The Yosemite High cross country team participated in the 33-team Sanger Invitational at Avocado Lake Sept. 18. It was the first meet in two weeks for Badger cross country as air quality issues canceled all meets last week.
The Sanger Invitational is one of the largest early-season cross country meets in the Central Section, with more than 1,000 runners from top cross country programs participating.
With 64 runners, Yosemite is one of the few teams in the Valley that can compete at all levels in large invitational meets.
“Sanger is a great meet,” Coach Ellen Peterson said. “As a runner, this meet will tell you where you are compared to the rest of the section. Overall, we had a strong meet, despite not being able to train outdoors the week prior. We ran against top competition which always makes us better.”
Yosemite walked away with two titles: Small school sophomore girls and freshman boys. The Sanger Invite is divided into varsity, JV, sophomore, and freshman divisions with large and small school championships.
The Badgers sophomore girls captured the small school title with 45 points. Gabby Stegge turned in an outstanding 14.30 for 8th place overall. Rachel Mattos also medaled, coming in 13th with a personal best 14:58. Natalie Guynn and Olivia Mattos were 32nd and 33rd respectively with times of 17:07 and 17:20.
Yosemite captured second place in the freshman girls division with 35 points. Mendota edged YHS with 31. Badger freshman Randi Johnson took 16th with a time of 16:05. Runners who placed 1st-25th were medal winners. All events were run with large and small schools, so Johnson’s finish was even more outstanding.
In the varsity girls competition Badger junior Elyse Espe medaled with a time of 21:08, good for 16th. Espe is now ranked in the Central Section’s top 25 according to Peterson.
“Elyse had a fantastic time,” Peterson said. “She has worked so hard and is now among the top runners in the section.” The varsity girls and boys run a three-mile course, with freshman and sophomores running two miles.
The YHS freshman boys took home the small school title with 145 points. Ethan Conti led YHS with a time of 12:40 good for 25th place.
The Yosemite sophomore boys took second in the small school division with 116 points. Exeter edged YHS for the title with 108 points. Isaac Rumohr medaled by taking 12th overall with a time of 11:50.
For the varsity boys, junior Joseph Campbell was the best finisher for YHS with a time of 18:17 good for 66th. Seniors Matt Horton and Brendan Rhoan finished 88 and 89 with times of 18:52 and 18:53. Overall, there were 200 runners competing in the varsity boys division.
Runners of the week
Coach Peterson awarded runners of the week to Rachel Mattos, Matt Roberts, and Henry Hurley. Mattos was singled out for “her huge improvement by over one minute since her last competition at Sanger,” Peterson said. Roberts won for “his hard work and dedication to improve,” Peterson said.
In only his second year of varsity competition, Roberts is now the No. 5 runner for the YHS boys. Hurley took off two minutes versus his time at Dinuba two weeks earlier.
Next up for Yosemite is the Mt. Whitney Invitational in Visalia tomorrow, Sept. 25.