WHAT: CIF State Championships
WHERE: Woodward Park, Fresno
FIRST RACE: 8:30 a.m. (D-V boys)
LAST RACE: 1:20 p.m. (D-IV girls)
ADMISSION: $10 adults, $5 children
Four area runners will compete in four separate races in the 2012 California Interscholastic Federation State Cross Country Championships Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Second-year qualifier Harleen Pabla of Manteca High will be joined by Sierra’s Josh Spooner, and Ripon teammates Ryan Torres and Ellie Waters.
Torres is running the familiar 5,000-meter course for a third time after leading Ripon’s boys squad to a team berth the past two seasons. Spooner, a junior, and freshman Waters are making their first appearances at the state meet.
The local quartet qualified through individual berths in the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships, which took place Nov. 10 at Willow Hill in Folsom. Ripon had high hopes in advancing two full teams, but the girls placed third while the boys took fourth. Only the top two Division IV teams move on from the SJS. Manteca’s boys and girls contingents both ended up fifth in Division III, which advances three.
Pabla placed 13th overall and earned the final state bid in 20 minutes, 1 second, which was 14 seconds slower than her time in the 2011 section meet. She finished 84th out of 203 in 19:52 at state last year.
Torres looks to continue his improvement at the state meet. He capped a strong 2011 campaign with a 32nd-place finish in 16:32 after taking 99th in 17:17 as a sophomore. Torres appears to be over a bothersome hamstring injury, as he turned in his best time (16:48) for fifth place in the section finale.
Waters took seventh overall (20:25) in the SJS Division IV girls race, while Spooner was sixth (16:16) in Division III boys. This marks the fourth straight year that a Sierra male advanced to state, following Ricky Morris (2010, 11) and John Bowers (2009).
The top three teams and 10 individuals in each race receive awards.
Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley is chasing history as she hopes to become the sixth female runner to earn three or more individual state titles. The Saugus girls (D-II) are taking aim at a seventh straight state banner, and San Francisco University (D-V) seeks a state-record 10th overall team championship.
For boys, Palos Verdes looks to repeat as Division III team champion, while John Lawson of Sir Francis Drake will defend his D-IV individual title.