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Manteca in line to sweep Valley Oak League championships
Runners from the Manteca High and Sierra varsity boys cross country teams take off from the start line during a Valley Oak League meet held at Knights Ferry on Wednesday. - photo by Ike Dodson

Nothing is settled yet, but Manteca High’s cross country program is on its way to winning all six Valley Oak League cross country championships.

In Knights Ferry Wednesday, the Buffaloes’ varsity boys and girls teams outpointed their next closest competitors by mirroring 24-31 scores.

It’s the second of two cluster meets scored under a head-to-head dual format. The VOL Finals, which takes place Oct. 24 at Frogtown in Angels Camp, will be treated like an invitational. Teams earn a single point for every opponent beaten in the first two meets, and two points are awarded in the finale.

That puts Manteca in a good spot. The boys defeated Sierra, while the girls dispatched Kimball. If either Buffalo squad were to take second to the current runner-up, it would be guaranteed at least a share of the title.

Manteca’s varsity boys are closing in on its second straight championship run. All five of their scorers finished in the top 10 overall led by third-place Martin Herrera (18 minutes, 31 seconds). Following him were Martin Ponce (fourth, 18:51), Trevor Crippen (sixth, 18:58), Brandon Galan (ninth, 19:18) and Seayer Galan (10th, 19:23).

Sierra was paced by Josh Spooner, who finished second in 18:03. Sonora’s Steven Grolle was the top overall placer in 17:48. Nicolas Dotson (seventh, 19:15), Thomas Trzcinski (eighth, 19:17), Aaron Mackey (13th, 19:55) and Jonathan Velazquez (15th, 20:00) accounted for the rest of Sierra’s points.

Brendon Curtright (fifth, 18:57) and Mark Villasenor (11th, 19:30) are other notable performers from the area.

Samantha Smith of Sonora (21:31) and Kimball’s Francesca Loayza (21:34) went 1 and 2 in the varsity girls race. Harleen Pabla (third, 21:51), Esmeralda Cuenca (fifth, 22:54), Andrea Hernandez (sixth, 23:06), Doan Bien (ninth, 23:33) and Claudia Aguilar (20th, 25:30) were Manteca’s scorers.

Third-place Sierra, the defending champion, was led by Haley Silva’s 21:52 fourth-place finish. Patricia Angel took seventh overall in 23:16. East Union freshman Kayla Lecca was eighth in 23:31, and Fattima Momini paced Weston Ranch in 12th in 24:22.

Manteca won the top team in all lower-level races. Placing first for the Buffaloes were Blake Lamoreaux (frosh-soph girls), Diana Zambrano (JV girls), Luis Ayala (JV boys) and Jose Mejia (frosh-soph boys).