Local runners compete in state cross-country championships
Defending state girls crosscountry champion Corie Smith wasn’t feeling right at 4 a.m. Saturday.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t nerves just hours before the state meet at Woodward Park. The Buchanan High junior woke up with flu-like symptoms.
Buchanan coach Brian Weaver told her it was best not risking her health, and Smith sat out the race.
Her running partner, Buchanan senior Meagen Lowe, went on without her and finished second for the second straight year on the 3.1-mile course. Tori Gaitan of juggernaut Great Oak-Temecula won the girls D-I race in 17 minutes 19.4 seconds ahead of Lowe’s 17:26.6.
“I wanted to come in and run smart,” Lowe said. “Run my race and I think I did pretty well, but it was a little weird (not having Smith in the race) just because I’m so used to her being in that pack, but we both just try to focus on running our own races. I feel my race strategy wasn’t any different.”
Smith said she was “bummed” she couldn’t race. She said she felt fine Friday and wondered whether she had a case of food poisoning.
“I was looking forward to coming out here and defending my state title. I knew it was going to be a great race. To wake up this morning and not being able to run was just devastating.
“I had to come out here and put a smile on for my teammates, and I know they did
amazing. I know they tried their hardest.”
Without Smith, the Bears slipped from last year’s runner-up team finish to sixth with 211 points. Great Oak won its record seventh straight D-I title with 79 points.
Lowe showed steady improvement her whole career, from 26th and 18:23.9 her freshman season at state, then sixth and 17:36.7 as a sophomore and last year’s 17:19.8 on a faster track.
“My goal throughout my high school career is don’t move backwards at all,” she said. “I can’t complain.”
Said Smith: “It’s weird watching because I hate watching. It’s still fun. I enjoyed watching (Lowe) go out there and try her hardest. It looked like a great race. It’s fun until I saw the finish. We should be finishing together, but what can you do about it?” Division I boys — Clovis North junior Isaiah Galindo’s goal was to finish in the top 10 in the D-I boys race.
Never mind he was dealing with a pinched nerve in his foot. Galindo finished seventh in 15:12.6.
“Finishing seventh was pretty amazing,” he said. “I went out there thinking I’m shooting for the top 10 and to pull away with seventh, that was pretty good.”
Great Oak secured its record fifth straight boys title with a dominating 65 points as all five scorers finished in the top 20 (and its two non-scorers were 23rd and 31st). Clovis North came in 10th.
Matt Strangio of Jesuit took the race in 15:04.5. Other Valley highlights — Clovis senior Olivia Herrera was 27th and Clovis West finished 15th in girls D-I.
Buchanan junior Kelly Brewer was 35th in boys D-I.
Edison senior Bryan Banuelos was 19th and Central junior Abel-Rudisha Teffra was 22nd in boys D-III.
Lindsay senior MaKaylie Caesar was 10th, leading the Cardinals to 13th as a team in girls D-IV.
The Chowchilla boys finished 20th in D-V.
Buchanan's Meagen Lowe, left, stays on the heels of the lead runners in the girls Division I race in the State cross-country championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday.
The Clovis North cross-country team, including leading runner Isaiah Galindo, right center, start their race Saturday.
Merced runner Cole McKain, left, sprints to the finish in the boys Division III race iat Woodward Park on Saturday.