Sierra sophomores Jesse Hurtado and Megan Oblin will be joining repeat qualifier Tomas Huerta of Weston Ranch at the CIF State Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 26.
They punched their tickets to the state meet with impressive efforts at the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships held at the Willow Hill course in Folsom this past Saturday.
Hurtado spearheaded what was the best team finish among area schools. Sierra’s boys hoped to return to the state meet as a group after doing so in Division IV a year ago but faced greater competition in Division III. Only three Division III teams qualify, and the Timberwolves placed fourth with 90 points behind Placer (51), Vista del Lago (65) and Rio Americano (67).
“We were running against excellent competition, and in the long run that’s where our school is going to be,” Sierra coach Mike Rosendin said. “Realistically that’s the competition we have to be able to deal with.
“For our boys team I was real happy for finishing a respectable fourth. We know that we’re going to be in the mix in the next couple of years.”
A maximum of five individuals who place in the top 14 make it to state out of this division. Hurtado took fourth in 16 minutes, 39 seconds. Senior Arish Balasubramania trailed the fifth qualifier by 10 seconds, finishing 16th overall in 17:13.3. East Union’s Noe Reyes was also in the hunt, taking 17th in 17:14.5.
“Jesse really put together the race that we knew was going at some point,” Rosendin said. “We’re real glad to see is happen on Saturday. Moving forward that’s where we are going to set the bar for him.”
Oblin, the Valley Oak League’s individual champion, took third in 19:23.5. Sierra as a team wound up seventh (165) and was sandwiched by league rivals Kimball (163) and Oakdale (169). East Union, paced by Kelly Higginson’s 18th-place finish, took ninth with 200 points.
Rio Americano edged out Vista del Lago 52-57 for the section title.
“Megan is just a product of hard work,” Rosendin said. “She does all the little things to become the best runner she can. Moving up to Division III is a huge step and she met (the challenge). It would have been real easy for her to settle in at fifth place but she fought her way up to third place, which is really impressive.”
Huerta is the Division IV runner-up to Liberty Ranch’s Collin Ullrich. The two-time reigning VOL champion clocked in at 16:49.4 — 5 seconds off from his 2015 time at the section course. The Cougars took sixth with 140 points in the team competition. Lathrop’s Juan Diaz threatened for a state berth with his eighth-place finish in 17:23.8.
In Division IV girls, Weston Ranch senior Iris Carrillo just missed out on her bid to make state for a third straight year. She placed ninth in 20:42.2 with eighth-place Victoria French of Sonora capturing the final individual berth in 20:34.9. Only two teams and a maximum of five individuals in the top 12 advance.
Also placing in the top 20 were Lathrop sophomore Maria Soto (17th, 21:19.7) and Ripon freshman Sandra Castillo (18th, 21:20.3). Ripon placed ninth with 192 points.
Ripon Christian’s Alysia Templeman competed in the Division V race and placed 16th in 23:52.9.
Four area harriers earned individual medals in lower-level competition.
Sierra’s Frankie Leyva placed fourth (12:18.8) in the Division III sophomore boys race.
In Division IV frosh-soph girls, Lathrop’s Jayna Rodriguez took 12th in 16:12.2. Ripon finished sixth as a team.
Omar Estrada of Lathrop (10th, 13:18.6) and Ripon’s Brock Sadler (11th, 13.26.9) led area runners in the Division IV freshman boys race. Ripon took fifth as a team.