FOLSOM – Not long after Harleen Pabla punched her third consecutive ticket to the CIF State Cross Country Championships Saturday afternoon, her Manteca High coach Rick Cuevas was on the phone with College of Idaho’s Pat McMurray.
“(McMurray) is very interested in Harleen,” said Manteca’s third-year cross country coach. “So we’ll see what happens. They’re a powerhouse in the NAIA.”
The Manteca senior will be joined by Josh Spooner (Sierra), Haley Silva (Sierra) and Ellie Waters (Ripon) at the state meet as individual qualifiers following their efforts at the Sac-Joaquin Section Cross Country Championships at Willow Hill Reservoir.
This will be Pabla’s third state appearance in as many tries. She finished in seventh place and was the fourth individual to qualify in Division III in 20 minutes, 7 seconds. Only the top five individuals not on qualifying teams advance.
“I want to try and get a better time,” said Pabla, who ran a 19:14 at state as a junior. “And yeah, I do want to come with a medal.”
At the CIF state meet at Fresno’s Woodward Park Nov. 30, the top-10 finishers are awarded hardware.
“I think she’s got a shot at the top 10, realistically.” Cuevas said. “That would be the best (finish) by any girl from Manteca city cchools. I’ve been coaching since 1985, and I don’t remember any.”
Sierra junior Haley Silva also qualified in Division III after taking eighth (20:14).
Silva was the fifth individual who qualified not on the top-two team finishers Vista Del Lago and Del Oro.
“This is my first year qualifying,” Silva said. “Last year I missed state by a couple of spots, literally only two. I was devastated, so this year actually making it, I’m happy.”
Silva’s teammate Josh Spooner also qualified on the Division III boys’ side.
The senior will be making his second state meet, and he wasn’t at his best while finishing fifth at sections in 16:43.
“I wasn’t 100 percent because of my sinus infection,” said a nasally Spooner. “I was hoping to win it at first, but with being sick I just focused on qualifying.
“Our school record (at state) is 15:42, so I’m hoping to break that.”
Ripon High will be represented in Fresno by sophomore Ellie Waters, who was impressive in the girls Division IV race with a second-place finish (19:46).
Waters will also be returning to state. She finished in back of Riverbank’s Mikayla Florez (19:26), also of the Trans-Valley League.
“This was my personal best at (Willow Hill),” Waters said. “This course is really tough, so I’m proud of my time. I’m hoping to get a new PR at state, and hopefully by my senior year I’ll be one of the top ones.”
Ripon junior Alex Norling just missed the cut after taking ninth for Division IV boys. Norling ran a 17:21 and was the seventh individual not on a qualifying team.
The heartbreak was even greater for Weston Ranch senior Brandon Curtwright, who finished two seconds ahead of Norling with a 17:19.
Curtwright’s time was good enough for eighth and was sixth individually, missing the cut by one, seven seconds behind Dixon’s Coy Chance.
Ripon junior Brent White finished top 25 in 17:58. On the girls’ side of Division IV, Weston Ranch freshman Iris Carillo missed the cut by just four positions.
Carillo took 15th in 21:22, while senior teammate Fattima Momini took 18th in 21:40.
Ripon’s senior girls, Ana Hermosillo and Cynthia Castillo, both finished in 21:49 and took 20th and 21st..
For Division V girls, Ripon Christian junior Courtney Bloemhoff missed the cut by two slots. Bloemhoff took 15th place overall in 24:49 and finished eighth individually overall.
Ripon Christian junior Kayla Gerdes was 18th in 25:06.
In the sophomore boys Division III race, Manteca took second overall as a team and Brett Kovacs took first place with an 11:38 overall. Trevor Crippen (12:19) took eighth and Hector Patron (21:21) finished right behind. Juan Gomez clocked a 12:47 good enough for 16th.
For freshman boys Division IV, Weston Ranch’s Nicholas Curtright took second overall with a 12:25. Ripon’s Christian Pelaez took seventh in 12:46 and Sabino Brooks 21st in 13:48.
For junior varsity girls Division III through V, Manteca junior Chelsea Gomez took 12th.