RIPON — East Union’s boys cross country team began the Valley Oak League season the same way it left it last season.
Though still not at full strength, the defending champion Lancers were in dominant form Wednesday at Mistlin Sports Park, beating the rest of the league at the varsity, frosh-soph and junior varsity levels.
Kimball upset shorthanded Oakdale, which was minus its top returning runner, in the varsity girls competition. Sierra squeaked out the points to edge past the Lancers for third.
“Today, we just performed at about 60 percent,” East Union coach Rick Cuevas said, adding that two of his top six varsity boys runners took it easy while competing at the lower levels. The Lancers were also missing Marco Perez, a state qualifier last year.
“Once I put those guys in we’re going to be super strong,” Cuevas added. “My top four today were three sophomores and a freshman, so for what we had out there I am very pleased.”
Oakdale was the most competitive with EU’s varsity boys, who won 22-36 head-to-head. The Lancers also dispatched Brian Arevalo and Weston Ranch, 21-40.
Overall, Johnny Sandoval of East Union did just enough at the end of the 5,000-meter race to edge out Oakdale’s Simon Appel in this showdown between sophomores. Sandoval finished in 16 minutes, 30 seconds, while Appel was clocked at 16:30.2
Arevalo wound up in third (16:35), while East Union’s Cooper Freeman (16:41.5) and Maury Ortiz (16:50.1) went Nos. 4-5. Axel Rios paced Sierra (16:54) with his sixth-place finish, Weston Ranch’s Jorge Machuca (16:55.6) took seventh and Alex Cuevas ninth.
Kimball’s girls got the better of Oakdale 28-31 to get a head start in the race for the league title. Senior Kayden Legan did not run for the Mustangs, who still managed to go 1-2 with sophomores Haleigh Humble (18:48.0) and Hannah Beth Norman (19:59.4).
Manteca sophomore Emilee Craighead finished in 21:32.6 and as the top female competitor from the area, placing seventh. Aleah Melendez (22:16.4) also cracked the top 10, ending up in ninth. Sabrina Caldwell (22:34.3) spearheaded Sierra in 12th place.
The next two VOL meets are at Eagal Lakes in Tracy on Oct. 9 and Oakdale Reservoir on Oct. 30.
East Union’s frosh-soph boys were led by Evan Cooper (11:34.4), Devin Petersen and Antonio Zavala who finished 1-2-3.
Charlie Sanders (18:29.33) spearheaded a 1-2-3 finish in the junior varsity race. Ruben Martinez and Jesus Velazquez followed suit, while Manteca’s Edgar Huerta took fourth.
Weston Ranch’s Janiah Basco (13:09.7) won the frosh-soph girls race, while East Union’s Taylor Snaer and April Duarte placed third and fourth, respectively.