Oak Ridge looks to improve after first SFL meet

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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The first Sierra Foothill League cross country meet Sept. 19 wasn’t the best of meets for Oak Ridge, but the Trojans have plenty of time for improvement.

Battling high temperatures, not to mention a tough Willow Hills course, the varsity girls’ team turned in a solid performance with a fourth-place finish behind Whitney, Del Oro and Granite Bay, who finished in front of the Trojans on a tiebreaker.

Abby Fletcher led the way by placing fourth in 20 minutes, 39.1 seconds, 11 seconds behind Whitney’s Brooke Giorgi. The Wildcats look to be a formidable foe in the SFL in their first year in the league.

Ava Maier also had a good race, as she finished sixth in 20:45.4. Tiana Oliver, who completed the 5,000-meter race in 21:18.2, placed 11th. Oak Ridge’s final two scorers were Hannah Conover (22nd, 22:36.3) and Courtney Heller (41st, 24:58.6).

“Abby led the team with a solid following of first-time runners on the 5,000-meter course,” Oak Ridge coach Bob Wright said. “The girls are looking to improve their standing as we head into the fall.”

Sohan Kancherla led the varsity boys’ team, placing 32nd in 19:05.6. Dyan Goebel ran 38th in 19:21.4 to place 38th, while Aiden Campbell and Nick Pleshakov finished together in 40th and 41st, respectively; Campbell running a 19:24.7 and Pleshakov a 19:26.3. Connor Gill was Oak Ridge’s fifth runner in 50th place in 20:22.0.

“We had a nice, tight grouping of runners two through seven,” Wright said. “No doubt continuing the hard work the team has been doing will be the key to their success, as they look to improve their standing as we head into October.”

The freshman-sophomore boys placed second behind Whitney and were led by Brian Lew, who finished the 3,400-meter course in ninth place in 12:25.49. The team’s scorers placed among the top-15 runners, as Lew was followed by Nathan Conover (11th, 12:37.5), Clark Fransham (12th, 12:39.3), James Gezi (14th, 12:40.4) and Grant Geeting (15th, 12:44.3).

“The boys are looking to challenge Whitney for the league title in October,” Wright said.

Kayla Rutz placed third in the freshman-sophomore girls’ race with a time of 15:00.8. Dylan Wright (fifth, 15:32.8) and Aylin Askin (seventh, 15:49.2) were close behind, while Annabelle Brown placed 26th in 17:42.2.

“Special recognition to Aylin, who fell during the race and got scrapped up significantly, but got up to finish the race well,” Wright said. “It’s a reflection of the toughness in her and definitely represents what our runners are all about.”

Oak Ridge will compete at the Capital Cross Challenge at Haggin Oaks Golf Course on Saturday.