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Eagle runners working toward postseason

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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For the last nine year, Vista del Lago’s girls’ cross country team has finished either first or second at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championships.

With a slew of runners returning from last year’s section championship team, including four of the five runners who placed in last year’s section finals, chances are good the Eagles could continue their streak. The seventh section championship is seemingly within reach.

Returning from last year’s section finals are seniors Rachel Burgoyne and Natasha Evans, juniors Maya Barragan and Sophie Pelletier and sophomore Anna Vogtmann. Adding to the depth of the team are seniors Kendall O’Daniel and Kathleen Breeze, juniors Abby Carter and Courtney Aitken and sophomores Cameron Bader and Catie Timm.

“Honestly, I have no idea who our top-seven is or will be,” Vista coach Robert Grove said. “They’re all doing great.”

On the varsity boys’ side, the Eagles will be out to defend the section title they won a year ago, their second after winning in 2015. In 2016, the Eagles placed second in the Division III meet.

Unlike the girls’ team, the boys don’t have as many top runners returning. While the top-three runners from last year graduated, back are seniors Stephen Northouse, Jake Solak and Brenden Jones, and juniors Jonah Peterson, Ethan Karr, and James Junaidi. Only Karr, Petersen, and Jones ran in the section meet a year ago with Karr and Petersen among Vista’s scoring runners. This group will be joined by a small group of freshman and sophomores.

“I believe our boys have worked extremely hard over the summer to keep things rolling in a very positive direction,” Grove said. “We also have a number of freshman and sophomores who are really looking good as well. I would say that as a whole, I don’t believe I have had a harder working group. We are excited to see where things take us.”

The Eagles started the season well. The varsity girls placed second at the Oakmont Invitational, while the varsity boys’ took third.

“As far as our team, I could not be happier with last Saturday (Oakmont Invite),” Grove said. “We really have not done any hard workouts to date.  We have long term goals and I’m keeping the team focused on November. On the girls side, we have a lot of girls working together to make the team stronger. They’re focusing on doing the right things every day. They are lifting each other up and keeping things fun along the way.”