El Capitan cross country team runs to state championship meet

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The El Capitan High School cross country team recorded a rare double by qualifying both its boys and girls teams for this weekend’s state championship meet in Fresno.

The Vaqueros accomplished the magical feat at last Saturday’s San Diego Section championship meet at Morley Field when the boys team captured the Division III title and the girls team raced to a runner-up finish.

The top three teams in the division advanced to the state meet, which will take place Saturday at Woodward Park.

The El Capitan High School cross country team recorded a rare double by qualifying both its boys and girls teams for this weekend’s state championship meet in Fresno.

The Vaqueros accomplished the magical feat at last Saturday’s San Diego Section championship meet at Morley Field when the boys team captured the Division III title and the girls team raced to a runner-up finish.

The top three teams in the division advanced to the state meet, which will take place Saturday at Woodward Park.

This marks the third consecutive trip to the state meet for the boys team and the first since 2005 for the girls team.

“Going into the CIF finals, we weren’t favored, but to see them run their best race of the year was awesome,” Vaqueros boys coach Jeff Hines said.
“This has been amazing,” El Capitan girls coach Tyler Ludwig added.

The Vaqueros finished as the top boys and girls teams at the recent Grossmont Conference championship meet. Both squads strutted their stuff in fine fashion at last weekend’s divisional finals.
El Capitan, led by individual division champion Daniel Gomez, out-pointed runner-up Castle Park, 79-106, in the boys race.

Gomez, a senior, covered the 3.04-mile hill course in 16 minutes, nine seconds. He broke away in the last mile for a 22-second victory over Monte Vista senior Steven Lepe, the second place finisher.
Following Gomez’s lead were teammates Jorge Gomez (12th, 17:16), Reoh Darwell (17th, 17:18), Tyler Ruff (23rd, 17:33) and Binh-An Nguyen (26th, 17:38).

Darwell competes despite battling cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs.
He’s overcome severe physical hurdles to become one of the team’s top consistent scorers.
“He needs three hours of therapy each day just to run,” Hines said. “He gets frustrated at times but he never feels sorry for himself. He’s been an inspiration to everyone on the team.”

The El Capitan girls team finished 37 points behind girls team champion Cathedral Catholic.
Miranda Fisher (third, 16:39) and Kayden Carpenter (fourth, 16:41) led the Vaqs on the 2.75-mile course, followed by teammates Tori Lomax (27th, 18:04), Jenny Smith (28th, 18:05) and Addie Moore (32nd, 18:15).
“We had good leadership up front,” Ludwig said. “Miranda has been our leader for four years. We had a tight pack after that.”

Monte Vista senior Emily Lopez finished second in the Division III girls race in 16:20.
Besides the two Grossmont Conference team qualifiers, nine East County runners also advanced to this weekend’s state finals as individual qualifiers. (Those runners who placed among the top 14 finishers in their respective races but were not on one of the qualified teams.)

They include Monte Vista’s Lepe (second, Division III boys) and Lopez (second, Division III girls), Granite Hills senior Chris Corley (seventh, Division I boys), Valhalla junior Shea Ricketts (sixth, Division II girls), Valhalla senior Andrea Hughes (seventh, Division II girls), Monte Vista junior Celina Lepe (11th, Division III girls), Mountain Empire junior Mason Smith (fourth, Division V boys) and Mountain Empire freshmen Makiah Salzano (third, 18:13) and Kyley Inman (fourth, 18:25).

Corley won the Division V boys title as a freshman at Foothills Christian before transferring to Granite Hills.
Monte Vista finished fourth in the Division III girls team standings while Valhalla was fifth among Division II girls teams and Mountain Empire was fifth among Division V girls teams.

The state championship meet is Saturday. For race results, visit the websites at www.sdtrackmag.com and www.cifstate.org.

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