Cross country runners return at Exeter High

Exeter hosts Lindsay in their first athletic competition in nearly one year

EXETER – Runners raced through Rocky Hill Drive and around Exeter Union High School as athletic competitions finally returned to the school. Last Friday was the first competition since last March as Exeter cross country hosted Lindsay Cardinals.

The makeshift course began with two laps around the track at Monarch Stadium before heading out and around the softball field, throughout the high school’s campus, back to the track, and ended in the end zone on the field. The two teams staggered their starts and began with masks before ditching them around the 800-meter mark once runners began separating themselves.

The course was slightly more than two miles as Lindsay sophomore Nicolas Velasco earned his first career win at an in-person meet, finishing with a time of 11:41. His close friend and fellow sophomore Diego Vasquez was on his tail the entire time as he finished second with a time of 12:06.

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Lindsay sophomores Nicolas Velasco and Diego Vasquez have stepped up this year as the team’s lead runners. Velasco earned his first career win against the Monarchs.Photo by Jermaine Johnson II

This year, Velasco and Vasquez vaulted into leadership roles on varsity as the team dwindled in size. Normally Lindsay would be fielding over 40 runners but brought only 12 to Monarch stadium. If the season would have gone as scheduled, they were projected to field a varsity team of majority seniors, with Velasco and Vasquez barely seeing much time. This year there is one senior and junior on the girls’ squad with one junior on boys, the rest are freshmen and sophomores.

“[Velasco and Vasquez] saw it as an opportunity, COVID was not a loss for them,” Lindsay head coach Joe Dixon said. “They came in strong, they’re the future of the team and are going to be really good.”

He says the team’s times are a tad slower than usual, which is to be expected with the hectic offseason that transpired. There’s a number of mid-distance runners on the girls’ team that aren’t normally long-distance runners, so they’re still working to get in proper cross-country shape. It should benefit them greatly for the track season that will immediately follow the condensed cross-country season.

For Exeter, their girls led the way as senior Rosalind Dixon finished first with a time of 13:57. Sophomore Crystal Rocha finished second for the girls with a time of 14:39 in her first ever cross country meet. Alex Jacuinde led the Exeter boys as he finished fourth overall with a time of 13:04.

Head coach Darin Lasky considered the offseason to be “hit and miss.” They trained a bit beginning in October and were shut down mid-December, which caused the team to lose a lot of their gains. They didn’t start training together again until Jan. 19, for about four days a week. They’ve only done about 50% of their normal workout routines since they were unsure if they’d even have a season.

“Now the kids have something to look forward to,” Lasky said. “We have to do this right and do it the way it needs to be done because it will give every other sport hope that they can get out there too.”

Today the Cardinals will have their second ESL meet of the season. Tomorrow the Monarchs will travel to Dinuba to compete against Coalinga.

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