Wheatland's Rodriguez runs away from field
Wins BVL race by 38 seconds
The future of girls cross country in the Butte View League looks bright, as three of the top four finishers at Thursday’s league championship are underclassmen.
The host Pirates have lots to cheer about as senior Martín Rodriguez and freshman Jessica Carpenter ran away with the BVL individual championships.
“It’s exciting,” Wheatland coach Denise Wright said.
While the Pirates celebrated their individual titles, Sutter reveled after claiming the varsity boys team championship. Las Plumas won the girls title.
All five of the scoring Huskies finished in the top 25, led by Tony Perez in second and Bentley Nunes in eighth. Las Plumas placed all five of their runners in the top 15, with three in the top eight.
Rodriguez destroyed the varsity boys field, clocking 16 minutes, 47 seconds for 3.19 miles. He beat Perez by 38 seconds. Wheatland’s Eric Faires placed third (17:28).
“I thought they were right behind me, so I just kept going faster and faster,” Rodriguez said.
In reality, Rodriguez finished more than 100 yards in front of Perez.
“I was really nervous at the start of the race,” Rodriguez conceded. “I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go out real strong and open a big lead or wait in the pack until the end. I decided I didn’t want to wait and have to sprint hard at the end, even though that’s what I ended up doing.”
This is only the second year Rodriguez has competed in cross country.
“When I started, I was just doing it to stay in shape for soccer,” he said. “But now, I’m doing so well I want to see if I can get to (the state meet).”
Perez staged a stirring rally over the final mile. He was in third place before passing Faires with 800 yards to go. Perez opened a 30-yard lead heading into the final sprint. As they closed on the finish line, Faires put on a burst of speed and cut the gap to less than 10 yards.
“That’s how I mostly run,” Perez said. “I save everything for the end.”
Faires, who has been the top BVL runner most of the year, said he did not run his strongest race.
“I wasn’t feeling very good in this race at all,” said Faires. “Too much Halloween and everything.”
Colusa’s Hector Garcia (18:02) made it four Mid-Valley runners finishing in front.
Only two of the top four finishers in the girls race were from the Mid-Valley, but they also happened to be underclassmen who moved up to the varsity level for the competition.
Carpenter clocked 19:21. Colusa’s Carli Marengo is a sophomore and she finished fourth (20:25) behind Las Plumas senior Shannon Robertson (20:07), and Durham freshman Morgan Schell (20:12).
Like Rodriguez, Carpenter won by nearly 100 yards.
“I just like to run,” Carpenter said, noting she started running cross country a year ago in eighth grade.
She started this season running at the junior varsity level.
Carpenter, like a lot of runners, was not enamored with the Wheatland course, which was basically flat. Carpenter listed the hilly West Valley High course in Cottonwood as one of her favorites. She finished fifth overall and first in her division at the West Valley invitational earlier this year.
West Valley is where the Northern Section meet will be held on Thursday. If she finishes high enough there, she will qualify for the state meet in Fresno later this month.
“I just want to finish strong and make it to state,” Carpenter said of her goal. “And if I make the state meet, I want to do well.”
Marengo was disappointed she didn’t finish third, where she has been placing in earlier BVL meets.
“I ran as hard as I could,” Marengo said, adding the warm weather took its toll on her.
Marengo ran varsity because last year as a freshman she won the section junior varsity championship.
“She had nothing else to prove,” Colusa coach Matt Giffin said.
Finishing behind Sutter in the team competition were Las Plumas, Durham, Wheatland and Gridley.
Durham, Sutter and Gridley finished second through fourth, respectively, in the girls race.