The Ripon Christian athletic department had been lacking a cross country program for about three decades.
That will change this fall 2013.
“We’re trying to extend our athletic program by not necessarily having more teams, but to provide something the whole year for every athlete,” Ripon Christian Athletic Director Joe Darretta said. “So if we have an athlete who only plays basketball, we want them to have a chance to compete in something during the other two seasons as well that can incorporate running.”
Ripon Christian normally competes against the Southern League, but since Waterford is the only other SL school that also has a cross country team, the Trans-Valley League has welcomed both to the fold.
Although Waterford and RC will be scored separately from TVL teams, they will still participate in TVL meets. The Knights’ first competition will be Sept. 4 at Modesto Legion Park against the likes of Ripon, Escalon and Riverbank, for example.
Darretta hired Becky Donoho to be the team’s head coach. Donoho is currently the treasurer of the RC Booster’s Club and is also an avid runner.
“(Darretta) just pretty much put out the word that he needed a coach, and I immediately volunteered for it,” Donoho said. “We have a very small team.”
Darretta said the cross country roster is down to about 10 runners after having just 12 sign up initially.
Two of those runners include Jake Goeringer and Nicola Mussi, two prospective standouts for this season.
“(Goeringer) is a freshman and he’s a marathon runner,” Donoho said. “He’s actually running in a marathon this weekend.
“In high school cross country you’re only running three miles, but he has the potential to be a standout athlete. (Mussi) is a sophomore, but he’s doing very well and has made it to every single practice.”
Ripon Christian’s cross-town rival, Ripon, has even extended a helping hand to its young neighbors starting up its inaugural season. The Indians, led by coaches Paul Caulkins and Jill McPhearson, have even invited the Knights to practice with them in preparation for the season.
“The Ripon coaches don’t know how much I appreciated their help,” Donoho said. “They showed me how to use the website and register for meets, and they even allowed our kids to practice with them this summer — and that has been really helpful.”
According to coach Donoho, RC hasn’t had across country program at the school since the 1980’s.
“It’s the first (cross country) program in the last 30 years,” she said. “It’s exciting to have a brand new program and have new kids participating that haven’t ever even done a sport before.”
RC will compete at invitationals, primarily on Saturdays, and have meets scheduled here in this area, Vacaville and two in the Sacramento-area.
Darretta said about 90 percent of the Knights’ student body takes part in athletics, which is why they are able to fill so many rosters at different levels of different sports with such a low numbers.
To contact John-Joel Griffiths, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.