TRACY — All Megan Oblin wanted to do was keep pace with Iris Carrillo in the first of three Valley Oak League meets Wednesday at Eagal Lakes.
Sierra’s sophomore sensation knew it was a tall task considering Carrillo, the two-time defending champion and state qualifier, is the best female distance runner to ever come out of Weston Ranch.
Yet, in the final mile of the league opening race she discovered there was plenty left in the tank to put the pedal to the metal.
There was an audible gasp from onlookers as Oblin emerged alone from the forested portion of the trail, and she continued to surge to a first-place finish in 20 minutes, 21 seconds — well ahead of runner-up Carrillo (20:46) and third-place Oakdale freshman Karina Prado (21:03).
Oblin’s win helped key Sierra’s undefeated start to the season, as the Timberwolves edged out surprising Oakdale 26-29 and third-place East Union, 23-32.
Sierra boys also established themselves as the pace setters, as they held off reining individual champion and race winner Tomas Huerta and Weston Ranch 23-32 and third-place Oakdale, 21-36.
But the day belonged to Oblin, whose heroic effort in last year’s VOL Championships propelled Sierra to the team title.
“I wanted to stay right behind Iris,” Oblin said. “My goal was just to keep up with her. Toward the end I heard my coaches cheering me on, so I felt the energy to push through and pass her up.”
Seniors Diana Cruz (sixth, 22:08) and Savannah Verschuur (ninth, 22:18) also had top-10 overall finishes for Sierra. They were followed by Jasmin Correa (12th, 22:53) and Emily Cunial (24:13).
Kelley Higginson paced East Union with a fourth-place finish in 21:13. Lathrop teammates Crystal Baltazar (22:26) and Maria Soto (22:40) were 10th and 11th, respectively.
Huerta proved to still be the one to beat on the boys side. He clocked in at 17:11 ahead of Sierra’s Jesse Hurtado (17:28) and Arish Bala (17:29). East Union’s Noe Reyes was also in the mix while barreling down the chute, ending up fourth in 17:30.
“I just wanted to finish in first, but my team got second,” Huerta said. “We’ll get it done next time. Our No. 4 and 5 (runners) were right with their fifth.”
It was an otherwise dominant start for defending league champion Sierra, which had four top-10 placers including Lionel Orhiere (sixth, 17:57) and Trevor Ryan (10th, 18:24). Sabas Montes added a 15th-place finish in 18:45.
The second VOL cluster meet is on Oct. 5 at Tuolumne Regional Park in Modesto. League championships and all-league awards will then be on the line Oct. 26 with the finals back at Eagal Lakes.
Sierra had a 1-2-3 finish from Oscar Guitron, Isaias Ghezae and Erick Rubalcaba in the junior varsity boys competition. Sierra’s Taylor White and Elibeth Barrera took second and third, respectively in JV girls.
East Union’s Ana Romero took the top spot in sophomore girls, while Omar Estrada led area sophomore boys with a runner-up finish.