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Vista sweeps the field at Pacific Tiger Invite

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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It’s early in the season, but Vista del Lago’s cross country teams are looking great.

The Eagles are the defending Division III Sac-Joaquin Section champions on both the boys’ and the girls’ side, and if they continue to perform the way they are now more hardware could be on the way.

The Eagles ran in the Pacific Tiger Invitational last Saturday in Stockton, sending six teams to run in the small school varsity, junior varsity and freshman-sophomore races. The Eagles came home with a clean sweep, as their teams placed first in all six divisions.

“We’ve never won six divisions before,” Vista coach Robert Grove said. “We didn’t expect to, and we don’t try to concentrate on what the outcomes of these races will be, but this team has worked hard and put the work in. They’re also a close-knit group that pushes each other.”

The varsity girls’ team is looking particularly strong to Grove, who said it might be the strongest team he’s ever had and he’s had some good ones with section champions in 2010, 2011 and 2013-2015, not to mention last year’s group. On Saturday, Rachel Burgoyne placed first in the 5,000-meter race in 18 minutes, 19.4 seconds. Anna Vogtmann was third (18:33.9), while Natasha Evans ran sixth (18:40.7). Maya Barragan (16th, 19:23.1) and Sophie Pelletier (24th, 19:45.3) finished the scoring, as the Eagles dominated the field. Vista scored 48 points, finishing well in front of runner-up Menlo with 116 points in a field of about 27 schools.

The varsity boys weren’t as dominant but still won the meet with 128 points, finishing 15 points in front of Calaveras in a field of 36 schools.

Jonah Petersen placed 16th to lead the way in 16:38.5. Stephen Northouse and Ethan Karr ran 25th and 26th, respectively, in 16:51.1 and 16:53.0. James Junaidi placed 33rd in 17:00.2, while Joshua Cagney ended up 40th in 17:15.6.

At this point in the season, Grove is thrilled with how his teams are running.

“We’re definitely where we should be at this point,” Grove said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re healthy right now and that’s the big thing. We do a lot of preventative maintenance.”

Vista also won the lower levels as well, as the Eagles dominated at the two-mile distance as well. The JV girls finished 17 points in front of Sacred Heart Cathedral, as Courtney Aitken (12:51.4), Arabella Perez (13:21.9), Sabrina Terando (13:49.0) and Melia Blankenfeld (13:57.6) placed first through fourth, respectively. Payton Lagomarsino ran 21st in 15:24.8.

The freshman-sophomore team also finished in front of Sacred Heart Cathedral, but by 43 points. Cameron Bader was the team’s top finisher, as she took third in 12:44.4. Catie Timm (fifth, 13:18.4), Cali Reese (sixth, 13:20.4), and  Mikiah Parlier (10th, 13:49.5) posted top-10 finishes, while Angela Zhou ran 20th in 14:21.5.

On the boys’ side, Vista also outscored Sacred Heart Cathedral at the junior varsity level, finishing 32 points in front. Alcuin Mowrer (10:54.0), Tanner Mendoza (11:01.1) and Michael Pecha (11:08.7) were the first three finishers in the race. Joshua Hunt took sixth in 11:25.1, while Elliott Harrison placed seventh in 11:26.6.

At the freshman-sophomore level, Eagle runners placed second through sixth to score 20 points, finishing 41 in front of runner-up St. Mary’s. Andrew Zimny (10:39.9), Charlie Becker-Ellison (10:54.4), Preston Breeze (11:04.1), Silas Glynn (11:11.7) and Michael Dias (11:16.8) scored for the Eagles.

While the Eagles don’t have a league meet until Oct. 10 at Willow Hills, this Saturday the team competes in the Capital Cross Challenge at Haggin Oaks, which should offer them some tough competition.

“We’ll be competing in the seeded division, so it’s a big test for us,” Grove said.