CLOVIS, CA: The 39th annual Clovis Cross Country Invitational has grown in esteem and quality over it’s near-4 decade history and given that it runs on the same course that the California State Championship will be held after Thanksgiving, and that it draws many of the best teams in California and Nevada there to compete, well the meet serves as a “championship” of sorts even if it’s date precedes the actual “state championship” by nearly two months.
Yes, it’s that competitive. 200 schools, 4200 athletes, many of the top-ranked schools in the State and a few of the best squads and programs in the nation make it that way. Competing well on that stage is what King desired for its athletes, and so the program sought out the meet on purpose, hoping to gain from a mid-season “championship” preview.
Lauren Peurifoy is, actually, one of the best runners in the nation and her team is one of the best in CIF Southern Section and they took the line in the marquee “Championship Race” which pitted the best of the best. The girls did not disappoint. Lauren led for much of the race before settling in 5th, but ran a lifetime best of 17:20 over the 5K hilly course. KaryLee Taylor ran King’s 8th fastest all time on that course and gleefully medaled for her effort. Fellow junior Amanda Sosa ran a personal best by 35 seconds on the course and she was followed by Ashley Haring and Joan Green who collectively finished 12th of the 25 teams on the line and ran the second-fastest team time (cumulative times of the first five runners) that King has ever run. Mission accomplished.
Mitchell Machuca, Austin Fortenberry and Francisco Zavaleta are three underclassmen who are in the varsity group this season, so with that kind of firepower, they enhanced the Frosh Soph squad with the intended goal of a top 3 finish. That, they did with the scoring help of Brian Green and Malachi Cabanilla as they snagged the third-spot and went home with hardware to wear. Machuca came by the 2-mile in a pack of six other runners but moved away from them with a great final mile and won the race.
The boys varsity, minus the aforementioned threesome, still ran well, led by Chris Barba and Garrett Vasta who had quality performances, racing the 14th and 19th fastest times on the course respectively. Tears of joy fell from Matthew Castro’s face after the race when it sank in just how well he raced, a lifetime best time for the hard-working junior.
Carissa Avila was also “all-smiles” after her race in which she ran one of the best, if not the best, race of her four years of cross country. It was a great moment for the likable senior.
Deliberately choosing to enter a meet like Clovis creates a “championship” environment for any team. The atmosphere and quality of teams present, demands that student-athletes step up and perform on a stage that is unlike any they experience all season.
FRESHMAN SHINE AT HUNTINGTON BEACH INVITE
With half the team at Woodward Park for the Clovis Invite, the rest of the team headed to the Central Park Invitational in Huntington Beach. However, with reduced numbers only the JV boys and freshmen
girls managed to field teams. Undeterred, all the athletes ran their hearts out and represented King High well in humid and ever warming conditions as the day went on.
Leading off were the JV boys with a great race by Michael Munoz finishing with the top time of the day for the boys at 17:11 while taking 11 th overall. Roman Hernandez and Connor Sharp followed, with
Connor overcoming the pain of getting elbowed early in the race to gut it out to meet his personal goal for the race. Also representing well for the JV team was Daniel Wilbert who has overcome his injury during the summer by setting a PR for himself. The sophomore boys also raced well with Matt Somody, Angel Rawdon, and Daniel Park each setting new PRs despite being in the heat of the later races.
On the girls side, Sydney Grossi and Karissa Bardin both beat their personal goal for the race, as did Jalene Rodriguez for the sophomore girls.
But the big story of the day was the freshman boys and girls teams who, despite their youth, ran with abandon with most having their best race of the season to date. Three of the freshman boys ran almost a minute faster than their previous best times for a 3-mile race with Ryan Hernandez cutting a minute off his previous time at 17:50 (2nd fastest time for the boys on the day) and Brendon Provance and Gabriel Aborita each 50 seconds faster. Grace Lowry had the fastest time of the day for the King girls leading the freshman girls to a 6th place finish overall with Kalee Taylor, Emily Richmond, Justine Marshall, and Avalon Provance finishing off the scoring five for the freshman girls with the 3rd, 4 th , 5 th ,and 7th fastest times of the day for the girl’s team.