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Ripon runners finish in top 15
Ripon Highs Ryan Torres battles it out after the two-mile mark of the 5,000 meter event. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

FRESNO -- The Ripon High boys achieved a team goal at Saturday’s 2011 California Interscholastic Federation Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park.

“We wanted to finish in the top 15 (in Division V),” said Indians coach Paul Calkins.

Ripon did just that, placing 15th out of 24 teams in Division IV. Yreka took first, beating out Salestine by 58 seconds and Don Bosco by 1:01 in the fast-paced 5,000-meter course.

Individually, Ryan Torres, who is a junior, led Ripon with a personal-best time of 16 minutes, 32 seconds and good for 32nd place overall (out of a field of 197 runners). He was competing in his second straight state meet.

“I think that experience helped,” he said. “I had more confidence.”

Jordan Gibson finished 55th whilen also establishing a personal-best 17:03.

As for the pace of the race?

“The sections were fast but can’t compare to the state,” Gibson added.

A year ago, Alec Steinberg gave up his spot in the state meet for one of his teammates. This time, however, the Ripon senior not competed but took 80th (17:03).

“The race had a heck of a start. I thought I was going to die in mile two (also known as Killer Hill),” he recalled.

Other competitors for Ripon were Nick Ratto (17:54), Christian Plata (18:36), and Antonio Pelaez (19:11).

“The state meet was just an amazing experience,” Ratto said.

In Division III girls, Harleen Pabla, who is a relatively newcomer to cross country, took 84th (19:52), individually.

Carrie Verdon (17:19) of Campolindo nipped Oakmont’s Karlie Garcia (17:20) down home stretch.

Pabla, meanwhile, was thrilled just to be there.

“I ran my heart out,” she said. “I left everything ouit there.”

Prior to the race, Rick Cuevas, who is the Buffaloes coach, encouraged Pabla to do her best.

“He told me, ‘At least you made it this far,’” she said.

Pabla’s cross country teammates made the trip to Fresno to help root her on.

“They even made t-shirts for me,” said Pabla, who will working to get back to the state meet.

She hopes to be joined by her fellow Buffaloes.

Ricky Morris of Sierra competed in the boys’ Division III race -- the last event of the day -- taking 55th (16:24).

“It was perfect weather for running,” he said. “But it was a crowded field.”

Morris was thrown off a bit by the false start.

‘”I had to reset, mentally, for the race,” he said. “I had to find my pace.

“The experience of being here last year really helped.”