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Running with the Buffaloes

Manteca collects boys, girls crowns

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Running with the Buffaloes

East Union’s Roberto Aguilar, center, tries to keep pace with a pack of Manteca High Buffaloes early on in the second Valley Oak League cross country meet held at Tracy’s Eagal Lakes Resort on Oct. 9.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED October 30, 2013 1:06 a.m.

Manteca High’s boys and girls cross country teams have shown glimpses of what they can do at full strength this season.
Even not at 100 percent Tuesday, both repeated as Valley Oak League champions at Legion Park in Modesto. The girls once again had one of their top runners out with an injury, but they were able to squeak out the outright crown by outpointing Sierra, 37-39. It also came down to the crosstown rivals for the boys, with Manteca winning by a wider margin, 31-52.
Last year, Sierra nipped the Buffaloes in the final VOL meet to force a two-way share of the title.
“The boys told me (Monday), ‘Coach, “we’re not going to come home as co-champions,” said Manteca coach Rick Cuevas. “We’re not going to disappoint you this time.’ They stepped it up.”
The three-time defending champions had a trio of all-league runners, awarded to those who finish in the top seven. Mahir Pepic led the way for Manteca in fourth place overall (17:01) behind Weston Ranch’s Brendon Curright (16:55), runner-up Josh Spooner (16:35) of Sierra and Sonora’s individual champion, Steven Grolle (15:54).
Pepic missed the VOL opener with an injury on Sept. 18 and placed ninth in the second cluster meet on Oct. 9. Sophomore Brett Kovacs (sixth, 17:09), Brandon Galan (seventh, 17:20), Brian Balcita (eighth, 17:24) and Marcus Avila (11th, 17:41) also scored for Manteca.
Sierra’s Garet Stone (ninth, 17:33) and Brandon Rogers (10th, 17:37) threatened for all-league spots.
“They ran as a pack,” Cuevas said of his team’s strategy. “With a mile to go they had the green light — every man for himself.”
Manteca’s girls were without sophomore Emma Holbrook, who placed no worse than sixth in the first two VOL meets and is nursing an ankle injury.
No matter.
Senior standout Harleen Pabla (19:14) beat out Kimball’s Francesca Loayza (19:25) and Sierra Haley Silva (19:46) — who each won the first two VOL races, respectively — to help make up for the absence. Manteca freshman Lejla Pepic placed fifth in 21:02 in her return after missing the second cluster meet with a foot ailment. Fattima Momini (sixth, 21:05) of third-place Weston Ranch (71 points) and Diana Cruz (seventh, 21:05) were other area harriers to earn all-league spots.
Weston Ranch’s Iris Carillo (eighth, 21:06), Sierra’s Candice Lao (ninth, 21:13) and Manteca’s Blake Mamoreaux (10th, 21:19) rounded out the top 10.
“I’m happy that we have depth with the girls,” Cuevas said. “Sierra has a great team, but our girls pulled through. (Sierra) could have got us. This race was very close.”
Up next is the Sac-Joaquin Subsection Meet on Nov. 9 at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.
Two local schools prevailed with lower-level titles on Tuesday.
Manteca’s junior varsity girls edged out Oakdale, 29-30. Abigail Mayen placed first for the Buffs. Carlos Campos, also of Sierra, earned the JV boys individual title.
Weston Ranch dominated for the frosh-soph boys championship behind first-place Nicholas Curtright (11:22). Sierra’s Trevor Ryan clocked in a second after the winner

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