TRACY — Jesse Hurtado finally got the better of Noe Reyes in the Valley Oak League Championships, but both had reasons to celebrate after the race Wednesday at Eagal Lakes.
Despite Hurtado’s first-place finish, it wasn’t enough for Sierra to hold off Reyes’ Lancers from East Union, which won the meet to force a title share in varsity boys.
For the girls, it was business as usual for repeat individual champion Megan Oblin, who led Sierra to a perfect finish and a fourth-straight league crown.
Reyes came into the league finale as the favorite after winning the first two cluster meets — and by a wide margin on this same course in the opener. Hurtado faded late in their first showdown and switched up his strategy for Wednesday.
Hurtado out-kicked Reyes (16:48.4) in the end, finishing in 16 minutes, 43.4 seconds.
“Down the stretch, that adrenaline kicks in and I knew I could get him as long as I could stick with him for that long,” he said. “The mistake I made last time on this course was that I went out too fast in the beginning and the hills got to me in the end.”
Sierra’s Isaias Ghezae placed third in 17:03.5. The top seven finishers made the All-VOL team, which includes Weston Ranch sophomore Brian Arevalo (seventh, 17:41.3).
Initially disappointed, Reyes knew there was more at stake as fellow Lancers sprinted past the finish line. Marco Perez, Epifanio Estrada and Charlie Sanders came through with eighth-, 10th- and 11-place finishes, respectively, all ahead of Sierra’s No. 3 runner.
East Union’s two losses from the first two league meets came against Sierra, but they’ll split the title after the Lancers outpointed their rival, 48-53 in the final. It’s the first VOL title for the East Union boys since 2003 and a three-peat for the Timberwolves.
“I had faith in the guys, even after I didn’t win it,” Reyes said.
Sierra’s girls had a comfortable lead going into Wednesday. Kimball, its biggest threat, lost to both Sierra and Oakdale in the second cluster meet to open up a three-point cushion in the standings. The top two teams tied Wednesday with 42 points apiece, but the tiebreaker went to Sierra with No. 6 runner Julia Runner finishing ahead of Kimball’s sixth.
All-leaguer Jasmin Correa took seventh in 21:15.7 to aid the Timberwolves’ cause. Oblin won decisively with a time of 20:15.8, roughly 31 seconds faster than runner-up Kayden Legan from Oakdale.
Lathrop’s Maria Soto (20:52.3) and East Union’s Julia Vezaldenos (21:08.9) placed third and fourth, respectively, to make all-league.
Oblin is gunning for a third straight appearance in the CIF State Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno, where she broke the program record last year.
“Coach gave me the option to start out fast, so I used the first loop as the fast mile,” Oblin said. “I’m trying to work toward state and get some good times in, so that was my motivation.
“I’m real grateful for this team this year,” she added. “We worked together a lot and it’s a good group of girls. It has been a fun year so far.”
Up next is the Sac-Joaquin Section Sub-Section Meet at Frogtown (Angels Camp) on Nov. 4.
Oscar Guitron (19:12.9), Cooper Sellers and Dominic Burrows were the top three placers for Sierra’s league champion junior varsity boys.
Sierra’s JV girls also won the meet, with Jenelle Rodriguez (24:07.8), Celeste Angulo and Monique Ochoa going 1-2-3.
East Union’s frosh-soph girls team completed its dominant league run with the title with Melanie Gonzales (15:34.8), Destiny Nino, Sierra Toliver, Aliyah Lagbao, Amanda Perry and Jasmin Ruiz taking the first six spots.
Sierra split the frosh-soph boys title with Oakdale. Sierra’s Axel Rios took fourth behind three Oakdale runners.