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No Trojan magic at section meet this year

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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A season of hope ended in disappointment Saturday for Oak Ridge High’s cross country teams.

At the Sac-Joaquin Section championships at Willow Hills, both varsity squads had hopes of running well and qualifying for the state meet to be held Nov. 24 at Woodward Park in Fresno. The teams, however, both placed fourth and fell short of their goal. For the first time in a long time, Oak Ridge will not have a representative competing at the state meet.

“Saturday was very disappointing for the varsity teams,” Oak Ridge coach Rob Fairley said. “It was very competitive and it meets like those you really need five or six people to all run well. We had a few people have good days, but it wasn’t enough. It just didn’t happen for us.”

The girls had to place in the top-three spots to qualify and finished fourth behind Woodcreek by nine points. Briana Dulgar led the Lady Trojans, placing 17th in 19 minutes, 33 seconds. Rachel Peterson finished nine second behind Dulgar in 20th place, while Ellie Velez placed 24th in19:55.

Whitney Wilhelmy posted a time of 20:05 and placed 28th, while the final scoring runner, Samantha Kilcollins, finished in 41st place in 20:30.

“Briana and Whitney ran outstanding races, but it wasn’t enough,” Fairley said. “We knew it was going to come down between us and Woodcreek. The good thing is we’ve got everyone coming back next year and that’s encouraging to know.”

The boys scored 115 points and needed a top-two finish to advance. As it turned out, they finished well back of Davis (49) and Woodcreek (79). Lincoln of Stockton placed third with 109 points.

All five scoring runners finished within 38 seconds of each other, but it wasn’t enough. Dusty Armstrong posted a time of 16:43 and placed 17th with Jake Zeltner and Marcos Conde right behind in 19th in 16:45 and 22nd in 16:48, respectively. Jordan Hordesky ran 26th in 17:00, while Zach Thornton placed 32nd in 17:21.

“I know the boys were very disappointed,” Fairley said. “The seniors really wanted to make it back to the state meet. Jake, Marcos and Zach are ran personal-best times by a few seconds and Jordan had his personal best by 35 seconds, but it wasn’t enough.”

While the varsity teams struggled, Oak Ridge’s younger runners did well. The sophomore boys had seven of their eight runners post their best times and won the race, while five of the seven freshman-sophomore girls did the same for a third-place finish.

Alex Merry placed third to lead the way, finishing in 11:27. Chad Vardas (10th, 12:02), Brett Ford (11th, 12:03) and Patrick Irwin (13th, 12:05) finished within three seconds of each other, while Kyle Kauffman placed 16th in 12:10.

Mikhayla Polivka led the girls by placing 15th in 13:54. Other scorers for the Lady Trojans included Lauren Martinez (23rd, 14:26), Peyton Wright (24th, 14:29), Karina Kauffman (27th, 14:34) and Arial Hendrickson (30th, 14:39).