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Oak Ridge girls' cross country team aiming for state berth

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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A young Oak Ridge cross country team is beginning to see the fruits of their labor pay off.

The varsity girls’ team, whose top-five scoring runners from last Saturday’s subsection race featured three freshmen and a pair of sophomores, placed second behind Davis in the Division I race to advance to this Saturday’s Sac-Joaquin Section championships.

“Things went very well,” Oak Ridge assistant coach Rob Fairley said. “We’ve got some promising young kids and at this point they are starting to see that hard work pays off. It’s hard for kids fairly new to the sport to learn to be patient and hang in there, but if they do they will begin to see success.”

Sophomore Abby Fletcher led the varsity girls’ team, as she has all season, despite her youth. Fletcher placed seventh in the race, finishing in 20 minutes. 7.7 seconds. Freshman Ava Maier ran ninth in 20:08.7, while sophomore Tiana Oliver placed 10th in 20:14.7. A pair of freshmen, Kayla Rutz (21st, 20:39.9) and Dylan Wright (29th, 21:01.5) rounded out the scoring runners.

“The girls are a mellow group, but you can tell they were pretty excited with how things went Saturday and they should have been,” Fairley said. “The plan was to run with the girls from Davis and they were able to do that.”

The next step is qualifying for the CIF state championships. To do that, Oak Ridge must finish among the top-three teams in Saturday’s Division I section race. Davis is the favorite to win the race, while Oak Ridge figures to battle with Cosumnes Oaks and Gregori for the second and third spots.

Sohan Kancherla led the varsity boys’ team at subsections, as he placed 54th in 17:48.2 and qualified for the section championships. The rest of the scoring runners who did not qualify were Dylan Goebel (61st, 17:58.8), Nick Pleshakov (77th, 18:28.5), Aidan Campbell (79th, 18:32.0) and Colin Kong (107th, 19:04.6).

Oak Ridge’s sophomore boys’ and freshman boys’ teams also qualified for sections. The sophomore team placed fourth, led by Grant Geeting, who placed 11th in 11:56.0. Clark Fransham (18th, 12:01.1), James Gezi (27th, 12:12.0), Evan Kwong (34th, 12:17.8) and Timothy Studebaker (54th, 12:41.2) also scored for the team.

The freshman boys’ team, led by Brian Lew, placed third overall. Lew also finished third in the race individually, finishing in 11:35.6. Nathan Conover ran 18th in 11:57 followed by Will Bricca (22nd, 12:01.7), Drew Gladwell (24th, 12:02.7) and Ethan Lepore (52nd, 13:02.6).

Also qualifying for sections was Courtney Heller in the junior varsity girls’ race, as she placed 27th in 23:10.1.