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4 chase glory at state

Pabla, Spooner, Silva and Waters will run at CIF finals on Saturday

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4 chase glory at state

Manteca senior Harleen Pabla heads for the chute in the Sac-Joaquin Section meet held at Willow Hills Reservoir in Folsom on Nov. 16. She qualified for a third straight berth to the CIF State Champ...

JOHN-JOEL GRIFFITHS/The Bulletin


POSTED November 29, 2013 1:02 a.m.

Four area runners are chasing history Saturday in the CIF State Cross Country Championships.

Three of them are making return trips to Fresno’s Woodward Park.

Manteca High senior Harleen Pabla is back for a third consecutive season, while Sierra’s Josh Spooner and sophomore Ellie Waters of Ripon are making their second appearances. Joining them is Sierra junior Haley Silva, who competes with Pabla in the Division III race.

It is the first time since 2003 that a Manteca Unified school has had at least one boy and one girl at the state meet. Jimmy Elam and Cherise McNair represented Sierra that year. And with Spooner returning, that makes it five straight years that Sierra has had a male runner there, following Ricky Morris (2010-11) and John Bowers (2009).

Spooner qualified for state with a fifth-place finish in Sac-Joaquin Section Division III. He is gunning for two-time state placer David Ulibarri’s school record of 15 minutes, 42 seconds on the 5,000-meter course at Woodward Park. Ulibarri set the mark in 1998 when he was the runner-up in Division III. He took sixth in Division IV in the year prior.

East Union alumnus Justin Willingham remains the city of Manteca’s lone state champion, achieving that in 1997. He topped the Division II field in 15:37.

Pabla and Silva hope to earn top-10 medals in Division III girls. The only local female to achieve that is McNair, a four-time qualifier who took 10th (18:38) in the 2004 Division II race.

Pabla’s personal record at Woodward Park is 19:15, which was good for 45th last season.  The Valley Oak League champion advanced to the state meet as a sophomore and was the first from her school to do so since Amy Birmingham did it in 1997.

Waters has already made school history at Ripon being the first female to qualify in multiple years. She was the Division IV runner-up in the section meet.

Jessica Bettancourt is the Ripon first girl to run in the state meet in 2010. She finished 112th in 20:51. Waters looks to eclipse that after clocking in at 21:58 for 144th place her freshman year.

Worth noting, Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley will attempt to be just the third girl to win four individual state championships. She set a new meet record (16:40) in winning the Division I title a year ago.

Also, the Saugus girls (Division II) seeks an eighth straight team crown, while the San Francisco University girls (Division V) are favored to win a state record 11th overall team title.

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