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Rocklin, Whitney warm up at Jamboree

Wildcats’ Hodgens takes top spot
By: Amanda Calzada Placer Herald Correspondent
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Rocklin and Whitney high school cross-country teams raced together at the Seventh Annual Hornet Jamboree, hosted by Sacramento State University, Granite Regional Park in Sacramento, Saturday. Rocklin competes in Division II, while Whitney is in Division III. The jamboree, outside of Sac-Joaquin Subsections, sections, and the CIF State Meet, is the only meet the Thunder and the Wildcats have in common. The course is considered a relatively fast course described as “20-40 feet below sea level on a flat dirt surface with one hill about thirty feet high in the first and last quarter mile,” by athletic.net. This course was the site of the Big Sky Cross Country Conference Championships in 2006 and World Masters Games Cross Country Championships in 2011. “I love racing the Jamboree because it’s a fast course and hosts many friends and rivals of mine from other schools,” said Rocklin senior Ryan Jones, who clocked a time of 16:04 minutes in the 5K and placed eighth. Filling out the Thunders’ team were Alex Macchietto (16:46), Connor Hensley (16:58), George Miao (16:58), and Zach Skalet (17:15). Hensley and Miao were listed with the same times. The boy’s team took fifth, Woodcreek place first. For the girls, Mikaela Yerkes crossed the finish line in 20:34, and Erin Greenwood was just six places behind completing the 5,000 meters in 20.56. Rounding out the team effort were Lauren Fessenden (21:46), Mckayla Burrows (22:00), and Brit Husmann (22:15). The girls placed 6th; the Timberwolves were also tops in their division. Jones competed at a national level this summer at the Junior Olympic Games. He, Miao, Ty Medd, and Skalet are considered the lead runners for the varsity boys. Returning seniors Heidi Greenwood and Yerkes are leading the girls. At the forefront for the Thunder frosh/soph girls is Erin Greenwood. As the top freshman runner, Greenwood has already earned a spot in the top seven, currently No. 5. The “top 7” in high school cross country is considered the varsity team. Over the course of league meets, the top seven individuals, per gender, race to secure a spot on the traveling team. “I already notice less excuses with this group; they are ready to put in the work,” said Rocklin head coach Daniel Pereira, who says Johnathan Montoya is the leading freshman for Rocklin. While the Thunder is currently looking for assistant coaching, the Wildcats have welcomed two new coaches onto the staff: coaches Jon Bryant and Charlie Brennemen. Leading Whitney in the varsity boys division for fourth place out of 12 teams was junior Ryan Hodgens. Hodgens was No. 1 in the 5,000 meters (Gold Division) in a time of 16:32. He was followed by Nate Wellington, a senior, who finished third overall with a time of 17:08. “Ryan ran all by himself for the most part of the last two miles and still ran a respectable time,” said Whitney head cross country coach Mark Snow. “(Wellington) ran great for his first cross-country meet.” Rounding out the Wildcats top five where Devin Valdez (19:08), Nicholas Pulido (19:34), and Sean Donovan (19:53). Their times were a personal best for the trio in the 5K distance. Whitney’s Jenica Hodge took sixth place overall in a time of 21:06 for the varsity girls. Megan Hall, who wasn’t feeling well, still managed to place 12th in a time of 23:29. Filling out the girls’ fourth-place finish were Taelor Hatch (23:32), and freshman Faith Gottenberg (23:46). Trailing them were Ali Oranen, and Nicole Kruetzberg. It was the first race of the year for Hatch, and Gottenberg’s first high school meet. Oranen and Kruetzberg are upperclassmen, but new to the Wildcats’ squad. Snow also had high praise for his junior varsity runners, Alec Bigelow, Skyler Riley, and Molly Miles. Also helping to set the pace for the JV are Carolina Morris, and Eric Leverenz. Last season, both of Whitney’s varsity teams placed second in league. Both junior varsity teams earned title of league champions. Snow said the goals are the same every year: win a league championship and qualify both varsity teams to section finals. Rocklin’s biggest competition this year will be Woodcreek and Del Oro. Whitney is facing Rio Americano and El Camino as their toughest opponents. Pereira said the team will miss alumni Parker Ahlf, Cody Fikes, and Jessica Skalet, all who raced at the state meet during their high school career. Snow said the team’s biggest loss is Anthony Pulido, who was one of the fastest five last season, and Kyrah Vaughn, an all-league runner last year. Both Rocklin and Whitney took trips earlier in the season to help facilitate team bonding. The Thunder took their annual excursion to Camp Winthers over Labor Day weekend, and the Wildcats created memories at Clementine Ranch. Bonding does occur during practice, too, as neither head coach allows runners to listen to their iPods during workouts. “We are working, not playing, or running just for fun,” said Snow. “This is serious business.” Running sans iPods allows athletes to concentrate on their technique and pacing through observing breathing patterns. Without headsets runners encourage each other more, and they are more aware of their surroundings when on the street. For more information regarding race times and schedules, visit athletic.net