XC IN REVIEW Northern Section


Chico senior Mario Giannini won a second consecutive Northern Section boys title while running an historic time on the longtime NS course at West Valley HS, and was a top-10 finisher at the State Meet. (Patrick Corsinita photo)

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Mario Giannini for the second time in as many seasons proved to be the section's top runner. The surprise came when Pleasant Valley stepped up to take the boys section title over Giannini and Chico. The girls, however, led by the Molina twins, Della and Iresh, it was all Chico. Iresh nosed out her sis for the individual title, while also leading the team to the championship.


Pleasant Valley, dropping five of the first 11 despite the section-wide race format, was enough to beat Chico by 12 points for the Division 3 (large school) title. Seniors Tryon Jardin and Renton McGregor crossed 2-3 behind Giannini followed by frosh Jackson Hein, soph Cavin Muff and senior Cristofer Velazquez-Patino for the win. 


Coach Kevin Girt's girls of Chico were 75-point winners over Pleasant Valley for the Division 3 (large school) title. The Molinas went 1-2, led by Iresh at 18:44.97, with Della just behind at 18:46.40. Senior Una Griffith was fifth overall followed by junior Dot Clemente in 12th and senior Tori Mackay in 15th to total 30 points. 


In defending his section title from 2019 as a sophomore, Giannini, dropped the second-fastest time ever on the course used since 1992. His 15:29.18 was 38.20 seconds in front of runner-up Jardin of Pleasant Valley, who in turn was 16.64 seconds in front of McGregor, also of Pleasant Valley, who placed third. 

Giannini went on to place eighth in the Division III race at the State Meet, running the 5K Woodward Park course in 15:24.90 and leading his team to 14th place in the 25-team race. McGregor was the next NS runner across, placing 29th (18th among scoring runners) in 15:57.30. Jardin was back in 64th (44th) in 16:25.50, as Pleasant Valley placed 18th. 

Other top finishers at the NS Finals included Yreka sophomore Henry Baun, who placed fourth overall and won the D-4 title, Mt. Shasta senior Drew Hering, who placed fifth and won the D-6 title, and University Prep freshman Noah Gaido, who was eighth and won the D-5 title. 

(The NS runs all divisions in one race and sorts out the division winners afterward. The section also runs a D-6 (smallest of the small schools) to recognize those athletes but pools Divisions 5 and 6 in determining State Meet qualifiers (CIF-State only offers Divisions I-V.)

Braun placed 56th (37th among scoring runners) in the D-IV race at the State Meet. Weed senior Ryan Mitchell was 29th overall in the D-V race at the State Meet with Hering 2.3 seconds back in 33rd. Mitchell placed seventh at the section meet.


Aside from the Molinas, other girls of note include Univesity Prep senior Becca Gaido, third at the section meet and the D-5 champion, Orland freshman Paris Esther, seventh at the section meet and the D-4 champion, and Etna junior Jenna Justice (bib 604 at right), 13th in the section meet as the D-6 champion. 

At State, Della Molina was the top section finisher, placing 16th (11th among scoring runners) in the Division III race, with Iresh Molina 8.60 seconds back in 23rd (16th) as Chico placed 11th in the 25-team field. 

Sutter junior Gabrielle Katz was the top Northern Section finisher in the Division IV race at State, placing 79th. Esther was next, placing 105th (85th). At the section final, Katz was eighth, 13.69 seconds back of Esther. 

Justice was the top NS girl in the D-V final at State, placing 45th. 

Photos by DeAnna Turner and Patrick Corsinita