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Spooners hard work helped him become one of sections best
Sierra Highs Josh Spooner was the lone male runner from the area to advance to the CIF State Championships. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO


• Brandon Curtwright, Weston Ranch senior: Repeat All-Area selection placed fourth in the VOL and 10th in sub-sections but came up one spot and 7 seconds short (8th place) of a state berth in the SJS finals.
• Brandon Galan, Manteca senior: Galan earned sport on the All-VOL team after placing seventh in the conference meet and helping the Buffaloes win a third straight championship.
• Brett Kovacs, Manteca sophomore: One of three Buffs to make all-league, Kovacs anchored the sophomore squad’s second-place finish in the SJS Division III finals and won the race individually.
• Alex Norling, Ripon junior: Placed ninth overall, one place behind Curtright, in SJS Division IV, and established himself as the top returning runner for 2014 in the competitive TVL.
• Mahir Pepic, Manteca junior: Emerged as Manteca’s top runner by the end of the season, finishing fourth in the VOL Championships and 27th in the SJS Division III race, one place ahead of Galan.
• Brent White, Ripon junior: Ripon may be the TVL favorite next year and could return to the state meet as a team with its top three runners — including White (24th at sections) — coming back.

— Jonamar Jacinto


The Bulletin

Josh Spooner was a workhorse for the Sierra High boys cross country squad this season.

The senior took home multiple medals and made a second consecutive trip to the CIF State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 30, where he finished 90th in the boys Division III race.

Spooner also finished in the top five at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III subsection and section meets. For his efforts, the third-year varsity runner was named the Bulletin’s 2013 All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“Josh had a great overall season and put a tremendous amount of work in,” Sierra’s boys cross country coach Mike Rosendin said. “It’s safe to say he probably put in more miles than any other runner we’ve had at Sierra. He had a few weeks where he was putting in 70 miles a week and running twice a day.

“If you look at where he started, he has to feel very good about where he’s put himself as far as being a distance runner.”

Spooner’s personal-best time this season was a 15:54 at ‘The Other Meet’ in Sacramento on Oct. 12. Sierra’s boys took third and Spooner took home the gold. His time was 2:06 faster than his first-ever recorded time for a 5K at the varsity level his sophomore year.

Spooner has made significant strides, and still has more goals he’s aiming toward.

“I want to run in college,” he said. “There are five colleges that I applied to, and right now my times are good enough to make three of those teams, and I’m close enough to the other two where I could potentially make their standards during track.”

The Manteca native said he applied at Western Washington, Humboldt State, St Mary’s (Moraga), Stanislaus State and Occidental College.

The results from his senior campaign are impressive, too.

He won three Valley Oak League meets, including a second-place finish at the 10th Annual Sierra Cross Country Invitational at Legion-Tuolumne Regional Park in Modesto Sept. 14.

On Oct. 9, Spooner won his second VOL meet at Tracy’s Eagle Lake Resort. He qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III race by taking second at the subsections. Spooner finished the three-mile course in 16:29 at Frogtown in Angels Camp on Nov. 9, and the boys squad took eighth overall.

Spooner went on to finish fifth at the section meet at Willow Hill Reservoir in Folsom all while suffering from a sinus infection.

“I thought it was a good season overall,” said Spooner, who went on to finish at the state meet at Woodward Park in Fresno in 16:53. “I did win a couple races and I did break 16 (minutes) in the 5K, which was a big mark for me. I ended up being disappointed in the end with being sick at sections. And then at state I wasn’t really focused, so that’s why I performed badly.

“I didn’t have a great race, but overall I’d still call it a good season.”

Spooner was chasing two-time state place David Ulibarri’s school-record of 15:42 at state, which was set in 1998 when he was the runner-up in D-III.

“I think he was very consistent with being a top-flight runner,” Rosendin concluded. “He definitely wants to run at the next level and he’s looking at a few different four-year schools. Right now, he’s very focused on what his goals are and sets the bar very high for himself.

“He was a good high school (distance) runner and he wants to go on to be a good college runner. I think Josh has a great ability to be focused and doesn’t let things get in his way.”