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Manteca boys, Sierra girls take aim at titles
Manteca Highs Philip Herrera, from left, Tim Baker and Isaiah Cruz toe the starting line in the second Valley Oak League meet at Woodward Reservoir Regional Park Wednesday. - photo by Ike Dodson

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).