The Valley Oak League championship is in sight for the Manteca High boys and Sierra girls cross country teams.
Each squad is now 14-0 after going undefeated the second conference cluster meet at Woodward Reservoir Regional Park in Oakdale Wednesday. The first two VOL meets are scored as dual meets, and the finale - set for Oct. 26 at Tuolumne River Regional Park in Modesto - will be run under the more traditional invitational format.
The Manteca boys beat defending champion Sonora 25-36 and outlasted second-place Sierra (12-2) more decisively, 20-41. Sierra did dispatch Sonora 23-38 to stay within range of a title share.
Leading the boys race was Sierra's Ricky Morris by a wide margin, as his 17-minute, 59-second time was 15 seconds better than runner-up Steven Groelle of Sonora. Manteca teammates Philip Herrera (18:34) and Isaiah Cruz (18:35) finished third and fourth, respectively, with Mario Perez of Kimball rounding out the top five.
Other Buffaloes of note are returning all-league honoree Tim Baker (18:53), Martin Ponce (19:05) and Matthew Quiroga (19:17).
East Union came away with wins over Lathrop (21-34) and Weston Ranch (forfeit).
Sierra's girls had commanding wins over their chief competitors: 15-47 over rival East Union, 25-34 over Kimball. East Union (11-3) is now in a second-place tie with Kimball, which outpointed the Lady Lancers 26-30. Manteca, paced by a strong effort from sophomore Harleen Pabla, took narrow losses to East Union (27-30) and Kimball (25-33).
East Union went 5-2 on the day, Manteca was 4-3, Lathrop 3-4 and Weston Ranch 1-6 with its lone win coming against Sonora (forfeit).
Kimball sophomore Francesca Loayza was the top girls finisher in 21:24 and was followed by Sierra's Francis Scherry (22:24) and Pabla (22:55).
Also turning in solid times for Sierra were Kelly Paredes (23:17), Patricia Angel (23:52), Kyndall Riley (24:10), Nicole England (24:19) and Kyrstin Riley (24:27).
Sophomore Claudia Aguilar clocked in at 23:55 for Manteca, and East Union was spearheaded by its own sophomore tandem of Rachel Sianez (24:32) and Claudia Arevalo (24:50).