Monte Moore placed seventh at the Mt. Whitney Invitational on Friday to lead the Monache boys cross country team.
Monache had to face the likes of the Valley’s top program Buchanan without it’s top runner Ian Queenan. The smoke from the Windy Fire caused an illness to Queenan, who lives in Springville where the smoke from the fire is more prevalent.
Friday’s event also took place despite poor air quality. But the air quality at Mooney Grove where the event took place was better than in Porterville and the air quality improved throughout the meet. The air was monitored hourly.
In Qeenan’s absence Moote stepped up and ran with the leaders most of the race and finished in seventh in a personal record of 17:30 on the 5K course, just behind last year's East Yosemite League rinner-up, John Macareno of Tulare Union, who was sixth in 17:28.  
Salvador Martinez ran well through the first mile in the top 10 and eventually finished 23rd in 18:16. Anthony Estrada was the final medalist for Monache, placing 24th in 18:24.  Joseph Toledo was 31st in 18:37.  
Also for Monache freshman Jake Estrada was the final scorer in 18:58 and Kris Merzoian was 53rd in 20:20.  
Even without Qeenan Monache finished fourth with 117 points, narrowly defeating Roosevelt with 118 points.  Buchanan won with 19 points.  
Mount Whitney was second with 79 points and Redwood was third with 102 points, El Diamante was sixth with 134 points, Porterville was seventh with 169 points, Tulare Union was eighth 204 points, Golden West was nnth with 218 points and Lemoore was 10th with 268 points. 
“It was tough not having our number one,” Monache coach Seth Ishida said “Our preparation was a little off. 
“We have done better against Redwood and Whitney, so we need to get back on track.  Monte ran the best race of his career today and stayed in contention and ran like a number one runner. We stayed with it and did not give up, but we have to be sharper as a team."  
The Monache Girls team finished third with 100 points behind Buchanan with 16 points and Redwood with 58 points. Monache was locked in a battle with Golden West, with points shifting back and forth throughout the race. 
Golden West finished fourth with 102 points, Mission Oak was fifth with 137, Porterville was sixth with 144 points, Exeter was seventh with 164 points and Lemoore was eighth with 198 points.  
Jackie Castro finished 11th in 21:01, Samantha Martinez was 23rd in 23:18, Eilene Molina was 26th in 22:18, Nicole Torres was 36th in 24:40, Aurora Park was 46th with a  PR of 25:32, Evelyn Molina was 49th with a PR of 26:00 and Andrea Devora was 65th in 29:14.  "Jackie was a little under the weather and did not stay with the Buchanan girls like she usually does,” Ishida said. “She was very disappointed and expects a great deal out of herself, regardless of the circumstances.  Sophomore Nicole Torres ran an excellent race with a personal record.  
“The strong efforts from Torres and Aurora Parks made the difference in the race against Golden West. We needed runners to step up to varsity this year and these young ladies answered the call. They really are great kids and they want to improve."
Both the Monache and Porterville High football teams lost on Friday. Monache (3-2) lost 12-7 at Washington Union and PHS (2-3) lost 39-0 at Lemoore.

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