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Lady Indians poised to join boys in history books
Francis Scherry, from left, Patricia Angel and Kelly Paredes are back for Sierra Highs title defense in the Valley Oak League. - photo by File photo by DAVE CAMPBELL

Jessica Bettancourt became Ripon High’s first female cross country runner to qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships last year, joining the Indians’ boys squad.

Bettancourt may not be alone this year.

With four returners and a few key newcomers, Ripon is poised to bring two squads to the 2011 state meet in Fresno.

“The girls are motivated and have put in some hard miles,” said longtime Ripon coach Paul Calkins, who led the Ripon boys to its first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section title in Division IV last year.

Bettancourt was named the 2010 Female Runner of the Year by the Bulletin, but she has competition on her team in her bid to repeat.

Senior classmate Bekah Brown has been the Indians’ No. 1 runner so far, and sophomores Ana Hermesillo and Jessica Carmona have been keeping up and were contributors to their fifth-place finish in sections. Junior Alexis Keylon is also a regular in the top five.

Ripon garnered some momentum early in the season by winning the Laguna Valley Classic’s small-schools title, but in the Trans-Valley League defending champion Riverbank is the team to beat.

In the Valley Oak League, it appears to be a two-team race between crosstown rivals Sierra and East Union.

Sierra welcomes back its two best harriers in seniors Francis Scherry and Kelly Paredes. Sophomore twins Kyndall and Kyrstin Riley make up for the graduation losses of Katelyn Carbiener and Amber Parker.

Seniors Nicole England and Jessica Montiel and junior Patricia Angel gives the Timberwolves good depth. Behind Paredes and Scherry, coach Mike Rosendin said that anyone of his next four is capable of being the No. 3 runner.

“There is definitely going to be some movement between our No. 3 and No. 7 runners,” Rosendin said. “It’s what you want, is people being competitive with each other and pushing each other instead of not settling into what their place is. That only makes the team better.”

East Union fared well at the Sierra Invitational last weekend, finishing third behind the runner-up host.

The Lancers could be good for a while. Sophomores Rachel Sianez and Claudia Arevalo are the leaders, and Taylor Baum, Megan Jordan and Sarah Jackson are all juniors.

Manteca, guided by veteran coach Rick Cuevas, is rebuilding with its two best runners deciding not to come out, but sophomores Claudia Aguilar and Harleen Pabla could be in the mix for all-league recognition.

Lathrop’s fledgling program will build around promising sophomore Sierra Downum.