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Vista girls take first CAL cross country meet

By: Matt Long of the Telegraph
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A strong, deep Vista del Lago varsity girls’ cross country team sent a message to Rio Americano on Wednesday.

The Raiders, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions, wrestled away that title from the Eagles, who were champs from 2013-2015. At Wednesday’s Capital Athletic League meet at Willow Hills in Folsom, the Eagles made it loud and clear that they want that title back.

Placing their five scoring runners among the top-eight finishers, the Eagles easily won the meet with a score of 24. The Raiders, who only had one runner finish in the top-eight, finished well back with 56 points, just one point in front of El Camino.

“This could be the strongest, deepest team we’ve ever had here,” Vista cross country coach Robert Grove said. “We’ve won the small school division at two invitationals, took second to Campolindo, annually one of the top teams in the state, at another, and just won our first league meet. The girls have high goals this season and are doing everything to reach them.”

Sydnee Kizziar won the league meet Wednesday, finishing the 5,000-meter race in 19 minutes, 47 seconds. Freshman Anna Vogtmann placed fourth with junior Rachel Burgoyne and senior Annaka Barragan right behind her. Vogtmann finished the race in 20:06 with Burgoyne (20:17) and Barragan (20:39) following. Vista’s final scoring runner, Natasha Evans, placed eighth in 20:51.

As a show of strength, the Eagles next five runners placed in the top-15. Sophomores Sophie Pelletier (ninth, 20:52), Maya Barragan (10th, 20:53) and Arabella Perez (13th, 21:26) ran well, as did juniors Kendall O’Daniel (14th, 21:43) and Kathleen Breeze (15th, 21:52).

“All the girls have been improving and their focus is all on the team rather than themselves so that’s been nice,” Grove said. “My hardest job as a coach is figuring out which seven to put in the varsity lineup.”

The Vista boys placed second with 44 points, just two points behind Christian Brothers. Seniors Jack Hacker and Ben Kizziar both finished before the Falcons’ first runner. Hacker ran second to Mira Loma’s Ryan Ioanidis (16:52), finishing in 17:03, while Kizziar placed fourth in 17:12.

The Falcons, however, placed their five scoring runners all in front of the Eagles fourth and fifth-place runners. Vista juniors Brenden Jones and Brad Waterman ran 11th and 13th, Jones posting a time of 17:40, while Waterman finished in 17:45. Sophomore Jonah Petersen placed 14th in 17:57.

Ethan Karr (17th, 18:09), Stephen Northouse (21st, 18:16), Nathan Koning (24th, 18:41) and Daniel Howell (25th, 18:47) also placed in the top-25.

“The boys have done better than I expected so far this season,” Grove said. “Jack and Ben have done a great job with leadership and uniting the team. Jonah is normally our number-three runner, so once he comes back, I think the boys have the ability to win the league meet. I expect them to run better when they are healthier.”

The Vista freshman-sophomore boys narrowly defeated Rio Americano to win their 3,400-meter race. Vista scored 37 points to Rio’s 42.

Sophomores Michael Pecha and Elliott Harrison led the way for the Eagles, placing second and third in 12:45 and 12:54, respectively.

Also scoring for the team were Dennis Xiao (seventh, 13:09), Alcuin Mowrer (12th, 13:30) and Preston Breeze (13th, 13:30).

Vista only had four girls run in the freshman-sophomore race, but they all placed in the top-five spots. Abby Carter won the race in 15:11 and she was followed by Catie Timm (second, 15:24), Brieanna Anderson (third, 15:54) and Sabrina Terando (fifth, 15:57).