By Andrea Camarena

Exeter track coach Darin Lasky has full confidence in his Monarch squad and their continuance of victory. On the girls side, the Monarchs are working on their fifth straight league championship and the guys are hoping for their fourth East Sequoia League Title in five years.

Now, if only it weren't for all this rain.

The Monarchs have not competed as a full team for more than two weeks and will not race again until the league meet on April 18 at Coalinga. Two weeks in a row, scheduled meets in Reedley and Corcoran were rained out with consecutive storms.

&#8220It's killing us,” Lasky said. &#8220We want to run.”

While the sprinters and field event athletes have been out of luck with the rain, Exeter's mid-distance runners have made their best effort to keep their legs warm. Practicing in the rain and racing in the drizzle, a handful of Monarchs traveled to meets in Clovis and Lemoore over the past two weeks aiming to improve their individual times and places.

Making the biggest waves, junior Dustin McAlpine is showing great improvement in his top event, the mile. He improved his personal best twice over the last two weeks.

McAlpine dropped his 1600-meter time to 4:43.1 on March 31 at Buchanan's West Coast Relays only to drop it again to 4:34.9 on Friday, April 7 in Lemoore.

&#8220Being a year older, Dustin has improved a lot from last season,” Exeter's distance coach, Isaac Gonzales said. &#8220The kid's got a lot of speed and is in the top 15 in the valley for the mile. He has the potential to be in the top five or top three in the 800.”

The Lemoore meet hosted more than 15 schools from Centennial to Madera and five Monarch runners competed in the 800-meter and 1600-meter runs.

For the girls, sophomore Allison Gonzales ran a 5:50 mile with strep throat, 25 seconds over her best time. Senior Rachel Mitchell ran a 2:33 in the 800 despite illness as well.

For the boys, outside of McAlpine's third place finish in the mile, senior Jordan Cavanagh ran a 2:19 in the 800 while suffering from severe shin splints. He was 17 seconds off his best time. His personal best is a 2:02 from the 2005 season.

Jonathan Hook raced in the frosh-soph two-mile run taking ninth place with a time of 12:14.

Rain, illness, injury and even surgery aren't keeping these runners off the track.

&#8220I don't know why these kids ran,” Gonzales said in disbelief after the Lemoore meet. &#8220They want the experience and they want to do it. They're really dedicated.”

The mid-distance squad earned big points for both the girls in 2005 squad but are down to just seven runners in 2006. With four girls and three boys running in the half-mile, mile and two-mile events; the Monarchs are hoping to make up for the lost numbers in the other areas.

&#8220We are looking very strong in the girls,” Lasky said. &#8220We're smaller in distance events but our sprint crew is deeper and our jumpers are really coming along.”

The Monarchs are aiming to keep ahead of Corcoran at next week's league meet to seal the top spot for both boys and girls track.

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