By Andrea Camarena

The race to State came to a close last week as runners from every pocket of California found their way to Fresno for the CIF State cross country meet on Saturday, Nov. 26 at Woodward Park.

Both the Exeter girls and the Woodlake boys' teams competed at the massive event in the Division IV races.

In the Division IV boys race, Woodlake ran amongst nearly 200 runners finishing in 22nd place as a team with 490 points.

Leading the pack of Tigers, junior Joseph Spahn completed the 3.1-mile course in 17:16 to take 70th place. Gilbert Flores and Ramon Guzman sprinted the last leg of the race in a crowded pack of the best runners in the state. Flores, a junior runner, finished the race in 17:45 for 116th place while Guzman, a freshman, finished in 17:50 for 122nd place.

Woodlake junior, Eriberto Chavez, took 154th place with a time of 18:19. Teammate Edgar Quezala stayed on Chaves' heels to take 157th place with a time of 18:24.

Finishing in 181st place, Jacobo Villasenor completed the course in 19:03. Ulmaro Cuevas rounded out the team's score taking 189th place in 19:34.

The course was a familiar one for the boys who ran at Woodward Park for both the Division IV Valley race and the Grand Masters race over the past month. Still, Piedmont High School looked the most comfortable on course. Its senior-stacked team took first place in state with just 96 points. Big Bear took second place while Laguna Beach finished in third to prove themselves the top teams in the state.

Overall, sophomore German Fernandez of Riverbank was the first to cross the finish line with an amazing time of 15:14.

In the morning, the Exeter girls team also took the course in the cold and cloudy mid-50 degree weather. As a team, the Monarchs scored 537 points to take 21st place among 23 competing school teams.

Allison Gonzales was the first Monarch to cross the finish line. With a time of 20:46, she took 82nd place.

Senior Abbey Cochran ended her high school career in cross country at the State meet finishing with a speedy time of 21:21 to take 110th place among the top 200 runners in California.

Freshman Karah Hayes finished her debut season on a high note taking 147th place in 22:28.

Another Exeter Senior Rachel Mitchell, always running with a smile, finished the course in 23:06 for 161st place.

Gabby Garcia, Grecia Madriz and Jennifer Landers all completed the race in a pack. Garcia took 171st place in 23:53 while Madriz and Landers took 174th and 175th place in 23:55 and 23:59.

San Lorenzo Valley took first in the state scoring only 90 points with its seasoned team.

Lutheran High School and Half Moon Bay took second and third places as the top Division IV teams in the state. As an individual, Riverbanks' Maritza Garcia, a junior, jumped ahead of the crowd to take first place with a time of 18:14 for the State title.

At the State meet, the Monarchs finished another accomplished season with first place East Sequoia League title and high placing runners at several invitationals throughout the season. The girls also finished second in the section in Divison IV.

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