Monache High School’s cross country teams got a chance to prove themselves against fellow Central Section Division I squads Saturday at the 27th Annual Kingsburg High Invitational.
Twenty-one teams attended including nationally ranked Buchanan, by far the best team in the Central Section. Div. I powerhouses Clovis High and Clovis East also ran.
The Kingsburg meet has a format with races at every grade level so teams are split up but the Marauders had runners in every race and they lifted their performances to meet the challenge.
“It is the first time that we have really run well against Div. I athletes,” MHS head coach Seth Ishida said. “We put thinking aside and ran neck and neck with the best runners in the Valley. To put it in perspective, the city of Porterville has five high schools drawing athletes from a population of 60,000 and Clovis has five high schools drawing from 600,000. Any time we can perform well against those numbers, it’s a good day.”
Ishida said there were too many excellent performances to mention everyone but there were a few outstanding moments to point out.
For the boys’ teams, Ian Queenan ran a flawless Sophomores’ race and stayed with the front pack of two Buchanan runners and the Clovis leader. He worked his way into third place, finishing the 2-mile race with an impressive time of 10 minutes, 12 seconds.
Adrian Martinez and Buchanan’s Bo Olson led the Juniors’ race wire-to-wire, with an all out sprint down to the last meter determining the winner. Olson won with a 9:53.2 to Martinez’ 9:54.5. Monache fielded a strong team of juniors that had four medalists in the top 20 and narrowly lost to Buchanan 24 to 35. Isaiah Mendez was seventh with a 10:23, Isaac Ceballos was ninth with 10:29 and Arthur Castillo was 13th with a 10:54.
“They battled for every place,” Ishida said. “You could see their joy and confidence running at the front with Clovis schools. The Clovis coach commented on how well Monache ran in all the races. It was a great compliment from one of the most respected coaches in the Valley.”
Isaiah Sotelo was fifth in the Seniors race with a time of 10:03 and Bryan Perez was 12th with a time of 10:24.
“They wore their throw-back jerseys from the 1980s and it was a little difficult to recognize them in the small packs, especially in their unexpected positions up front with the Clovis teams,” Ishida said.
On the girls’ side Elizabeth Hernandez medaled in the Freshmen race, placing 16th with time of 13:45. Her sister, Edith Hernandez, placed eighth in the Sophomores’ race with a time of 12:49 for eighth place. Sophomore Sophia Mendoza was 13th with a time of 13:07.
The senior girls team won the race with 18 points, being one of the few teams with 5 runners and four runners in the top eleven. Marina Barrigan ran an 11:51 for fifth, Aryanna Guzman ran a 12:01 for seventh, Alexa Queenan ran a 12:31 for 9th and Salma Ramos ran a 12:44 for 11th. “The senior girls have been leading the way in practice and it is paying off.”
The most impressive win of the day for Monache was junior Aislin Taylor’s 31-second win over Buchanan’s Morgan Hutchinson. Taylor pushed the pace from the beginning and never let up. They were neck-and-neck until the midpoint where Taylor began to open up the lead. As the runners entered Kingsburg’s envy-inducing stadium for the final 200 meters, the crowd cheered at the novelty of seeing someone other than a Clovis runner in front.
“It was a moment to be proud of, especially to see other teams recognize the feat,” Ishida said. Taylor finished first with a time of 11:16, making her the 26th fastest 2-miler in the nation according to athletic.net.
Teammate Chanel Bradley battled her own Buchanan foe, but was edged out by 1/100th of a second for sixth place with a time of 12:09. Jennifer Franco finished with a time of 13:25 for a medal in 15th place, despite only joining the team in the last three weeks.
“We have never really believed we could compete in Div. I with Clovis Schools until today,” Ishida said. “We proved it to ourselves.”
MHS alums doing well
Former Monache grad and current University of California Davis runner, Ivan Mendez, competed in the inaugural Stump Invitational Friday in Davis. He was the second runner to come in for the Aggies in the 8,000-meter run, placing 16th overall with a time of 25:50.3.
Mendez’s finish helped Davis to a second-place finish, beating out third-place University of California, Berkely but behind California State University, Chico.
Another former Marauder, Jaden Uphoff, is now in his second year on the Fresno State cross country team. He’s the team’s No. 4 runner.