Top returning boys in the Central Section include (from left) Abesolom Teffra, Ryan Furness and Jacob Yagers. (Photos by DeAnna Turner)
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We move forward with our XC season preview series in the hopes that there is some form of a 2020-21 season and out of respect and appreciation for all the athletes and programs whose past results and future prospects warrant recognition.
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Clovis North rolled to the title over Buchanan and Clovis West with a senior-dominated lineup. While 11 of the top 25 returners from the CS Division 1 race in 2019, only junior Andrew Cape returns for the champions. Cape was the fifth scorer for the Huskies and placed 22nd in the section final. He was the team's No. 4 as it placed sixth at the State Meet.
Junior Benjamin Reyes (18th) was the No. 2 scorer for Clovis West at the section final with senior Tyler Lamborn running fourth and junior Gabe Perez fifth. Those runners swapped spots at State with Lamborn running No. 2, Reyes No. 4 (pictured above) and Perez No. 5 as the Golden Eagles had a 37-second 1-5 split and placed 17th. The Golden Eagles appear well stocked for the future with the addition of freshmen Samuel Dresick and Jacob Rodriguez.
Clovis East, a non-factor in the team competition in 2019, should be one to watch with the addition of middle school stars Carter Spradling and Nash Higby joining top returner Bernard Jackson, a senior who was 37th at the section final (16:52.80).
The top returner in the division is Jonathan Munoz, a senior at Arroyo Grande. Munoz was 46th at the State Meet.
Other top-25 returners from the 2019 CS Division 1 final
|9||Jason Scruggs||11||Paso Robles High (CS)||15:55.46||9|
|11||Nathaniel Avila||10||Clovis High School (CS)||16:00.72||11|
|12||Christopher Caudillo||9||Clovis High School (CS)||16:03.30||12|
|16||Lizarraga Sergio||10||Bakersfield High School (CS)||16:17.88||16|
|17||Ethan Epstein||10||Arroyo Grande High (CS)||16:19.32||17|
|21||Cristian Mendoza||11||Stockdale High School (CS)||16:25.86||21|
Jacob Yagers, a senior at Bakersfield Highland, is one of two champions from the 2019 Central Section Championships who are back. Yagers winning time of 15:48.91 was No. 7 in the merge from that meet and is No. 1 among all returners. He went on to place 11th at the State Meet, running 15:18.30 on the same Woodward Park 5K course as the CS Final.
Yagers is one of 14 boys back among the top 25 finishers at the 2019 section final. His Highland classmate Matthew Berry placed 18th at the CS Final.
Sanger, which placed third behind Ridgeview and San Luis Obispo, returns its five scorers, who all placed among the top 25: juniors Emanuel Salas (4th in 15:58.50), and David Deloera (7th in 16:11.99), and seniors Jayden Olea (17th in 16:30.92), Adrian Cuellar (24th, 16:51.67), and Benjamin Awad (25th in 16:53.41). (Deloera is pictured about to cross the line at the State Meet.)
Following back-to-back championships in Division 3, Ridgeview was bumped up to D-2 for the 2019 season. New division, no problem. The Bakersfield school held off a tightly packed quintet from San Luis Obispo by seven points to claim another CS divisional title. Gerardo Moreno, a senior who ran No. 3 at both sections and state, is the top returner for the Wolf Pack.
Santa Maria, which placed fifth, seven points behind Highland, returns seniors Yair Torres (5th in 16:08.10) and Luis Diaz (21st in 16:44.08). Torres placed 35th at state (15:42.70) as the section's No. 2 returner from that race.
Other top-25 returners from the 2019 CS Division 2 final
|10||Angel Delacruz||11||Bullard High School (CS)||16:15.10||10|
|16||Fernando Hernandez||11||Mt. Whitney High (CS)||16:28.28||16State DII|
Central, a dominant champion in 2019, returns its Nos. 2, 4 and 5 scorers from that team in seniors Abesolom Teffra (4th in 16:52.07) and Mordecai Garza (11th in 17:06.46) and junior Guillermo Lopez (12th in 17:08.65). The three returners ran much tighter than the team's 1-5 split of 1:27 which expanded to 1:39 (but with a 15-second faster team time) as the Grizzlies placed ninth at the State Meet.
Frontier, a distant runner-up in the team race, returns junior Elias Lopez (23rd, 17:36.67).
Other top-25 returners from the 2019 CS Division 3 final
|10||Diego Gonzalez||10||Sunnyside High (CS)||17:00.48||10|
|13||Nathan Herrera||10||Golden West High (CS)||17:15.60||13|
|14||Abraham Castro||11||Arvin High School (CS)||17:17.03||14|
|15||Anthony Gonzalez||11||Independence High Bakersfield (CS)||17:20.22||15|
|20||Ben Borchers||10||Edison High School (CS)||17:32.78||20|
Unlike the three large school divisions, the smaller school divisions were underclassman heavy in 2019 with 20 of the top 25 from the section final scheduled back for the 2020-21 season.
Section champion Porterville returns four of its five scorers in senior Joshua Meneses (12th in 17:24.02), juniors Joshua Jimenez (17th in 17:32.45) and Misael Lopez (21st in 17:35.34), and senior Ethan Rangel (25th in 17:41.20). (Rangel is pictured at right)
Runner-up Chowchilla, which had won the D-5 title each of the previous two years, was 17 points back and returns just junior Ryan Diaz (18th, 17:32.71) from among the top 25. Mission College Prep, 55 points back, returns junior Patrick Thomas (6th in 17:05.86) and sophomore Curran Vaccaro (19th in 17:33.72).
The top returner in the division is junior Nathanael Rodriguez of East Bakersfield. He placed third at the section final in 17:03.26, just ahead of returning Yosemite junior Turner Williams (4th, 17:05.08) and returning Tehachapi senior Mason Madden (fifth in 17:05.76).
|7||Patrick Espinoza||11||Robert F. Kennedy (CS)||17:08.15||7|
|8||Alfredo Rios Guerr||11||Robert F. Kennedy (CS)||17:11.83||8|
|11||Gabe Bell||11||Bishop Union High School (CS)||17:19.60||11|
|14||Jose Bravo||9||Mira Monte (CS)||17:29.06||14|
|15||Raul Landeros||11||Delano High School (CS)||17:30.52||15|
|16||Travis Lee Sturckgow||11||Tehachapi High School (CS)||17:32.00||16|
|20||Justin Smith||10||Hanford West High School (CS)||17:34.67||20|
|22||Michael Carbajal||9||Morro Bay High School (CS)||17:36.68||22|
|23||Diego Honda||10||Bishop Union High School (CS)||17:37.95||23|
|24||Jairo Guzman||11||Mira Monte (CS)||17:40.52||24|
With two-time champion Chowchilla moved in the Division 4 for the 2019 season, the D-5 race was open for a new champion. Mammoth, in dominant fashion, filled that void with a 29-point effort and a 30-point victory over runner-up Liberty Madera Ranchos.
Leading the way for Mammoth is returning division champion Ryan Furness. Now a senior, Furness ran the 5K Woodward Park course in 17:08.68 with teammate Iain Ferguson 13.06 seconds back in second place. Ferguson (bib 952 at right), a junior and the lone non-senior among the returners, was followed across the line by Aidan Le Francois (7th, 17:46.42), Kazuki Okamoto (11th, 18:15.16), Devan Tenedora (15th, 18:37.29) and Petr Zastoupil (19th, 18:47.41). Okamoto was the No. 5 scorer for a group that graduated just one among the top seven.
Mamoth placed ninth at State with Ferguson leading the way, placing 31st, 23rd among scorers. Furness was next in 26th (27th). Le Francois and Okamoto also scored at State.
Liberty Madera Ranchos returns four scorers from the section final in senior Ryan Avila (4th, 17:42.42), sophomores Dylan Devine (5th, 17:44.94) and Israel Rivera (14th, 18:32.58), and senior Quaid Copher (23rd, 19:04.49).
Other top-25 returners from the 2019 CS Division 5 final
|6||Dylan Morgan||11||Riverdale High (CS)||17:45.43||6|
|10||Josiah Leever||11||Central Valley Christian (CS)||18:09.86||10|
|12||Bryan Gonzalez||10||Riverdale High (CS)||18:20.94||12|
|16||Jose Zavala||11||Granite Hills High (CS)||18:38.28||16|
|18||Juan Fuentes||11||Strathmore High (CS)||18:46.69||18|
|20||Jorge Manzo||11||Washington Union High (CS)||18:51.41||20|
|21||Raul Acevado||9||Summit Charter Collegiate (CS)||18:53.54||21|
|22||Efrain Castro||10||Farmersville High School (CS)||19:03.76||22|
|25||Kai Alexander||10||Sierra Pacific High School (CS)||19:05.72||25|