The latter leading to the California State Meet in cross country can be difficult to climb without a team willing to put in countless miles to become a little better every day. For the first time since 1991, both Rio Americano varsity teams have put in the effort to make it to the top.
After competing in several league meets, teams run in subsections which qualifies runners for sections. For varsity, placing top 10 puts the team in sections, where the team is required to place top three to move on to states.
After placing well in the league championships, Coach Gordon Hubble and the Running Raiders traveled to Calaveras County to run in subsections. After qualifying nearly every athlete on the team for sections, Nov. 14 quickly approached as tension rose among the teams.
Junior Brett Wilson had little doubt in his team as sections drew near. “The sections meet was extremely exciting because we made it that far, but at the same time it was nerve wracking because everyone was expecting us to run exceptionally,” said Wilson. “I knew we were going to qualify for state, so my goal was to run for a team first and to compete with Vista Del Lago.”
Varsity girls ran first, shocking everyone with a second place and qualifying for the state meet in Fresno on Nov. 28. Being the second year in a row going to state, Annie Ware, Megan Auernig, Taylor Gowan, Georgia Bracchi, Lauren Calcagnos, Molly Lewis and Nicole Heinz will represent Rio in the state meet at Woodward Park.
Senior Annie Ware, one of the team captains, voices her emotions after the intense race. “It’s such a blessing to spend my last cross country season going to state, once again, with my team.”
Boy’s varsity also sent the entire team to state, matching the girls with a second place. For this team, the qualifiers are Noah Wallace, Victor Njoroge, Jason Chally, Brett Wilson, Noble Boutin, Jacob Gerigk and Garrett Gardner.
Both teams haven’t made it to state simultaneously for the past 24 years. The running programs at Rio have been growing quickly and given the success of the freshman and sophomore teams the growth isn’t going to end soon.
The Freshman team received first place in sections, and while only the varsity teams are permitted to compete in state, the younger team will grow and succeed the graduating varsity members.
It is undeniable that the Running Raiders will continue to be a successful group long after this year, but for now, state is approaching and will prove to be a test of skill for both teams.