Preps

Saturday, Sep 21 2013 10:58 PM

West's Delcastillo, Highland's Berry win Wolf Pack Invitational with strong kick

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    The first three winners for the Wolf Pack Invitational X country pretty much ran together the whole race. First place was Savannah Berry of Highland followed by Caroline Diaz of McFarland and Mariah Ayala of Golden Valley.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Runners take off at the start of the Varsity Girls Wolf Pack Invitational X country meet at Riverwalk Park.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    Gustavo Delcastillo of West and Brandon Kan of Frontier are close during the second leg of the 3-mile race.

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    By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian

    The start of the men's Wolf Pack Invitational cross country meet held at the Riverwalk Park.

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BY STEPEN LYNCH Special to The Californian

It all came down to the final mile for cross country runners Savannah Berry of Highland and West High's Gustavo Delcastillo.

Berry made a strong late push to distance herself from two other competitors and win the girls race during Saturday's Wolf Pack Invitational at The Park at River Walk.

A short time later, Delcastillo pulled away from his only serious challenger right after the two-mile mark en route to claiming victory in the boys race.

"Last year, I came here and I got (eighth), Delcastillo said. "I really didn't do that good. This is my last year here, and I really wanted to give it all I've got. So I just did it. I gave it my all."

Despite both 5K varsity races being extremely close two-thirds of the way into them, neither ended up that way.

Berry's winning time of 19:13 was more than nine seconds faster than second-place Caroline Diaz of McFarland.

Delcastillo was 13.5 seconds quicker than boys runner-up Brandon Kan of Frontier.

"It was a difficult race," Berry said. "I just tried to keep my pace the whole time and work really hard."

Berry ran the entire way following a specific strategy she mapped out.

"I was trying not to go out too fast; just trying to keep the pace," Berry said. "And then as the race went on, just slowly work my way to the top and just finish strong."

After running neck-and-neck most of the race, Delcastillo pulled away from Kan on the course's steepest hill a final time.

"Going up the hill I actually pushed a little tougher than he did," Delcastillo said. "I just felt that I had more strength than him ... On the way down I did what my coach taught me and used the hill to power down it. Once I felt that momentum and I felt that I lost him, a huge adrenaline rush came through me and I just took off."

An exhausted Kan admitted that he simply ran out of energy.

"I think I just have to work out a bit more," Kan said. "On the hill I tried to surge past him, but he just had a bit more endurance than me. I just haven't run that many hills. I guess tactics wise I need to be a bit smarter and up my training a bit."

Delcastillo and Kan were two of six seniors to finish in the top seven. The others were Foothill's Chris Garcia, West's Tyler Moore, Ridgeview's Alvaro Gonzalez and Highland's Ethan MacHado.

Ramon Flores of Ridgeview finished fourth as the top-finishing underclassman.

The girls race also saw the class of 2014 claim most of the top spots, including Berry and third through sixth place finishers Mariah Ayala of Golden Valley, Veronica Garcia and Jennifer Ramirez of McFarland and East's Angel Valdez.

The only non-senior in the top six was Diaz, a sophomore.

"I'm pretty happy with second, but I think I could have got her (Berry) if I had another quarter mile," Diaz said.

Delcastillo's win plus Moore's fifth place finish helped the Vikings edge host Ridgeview 69-86 for boys top team honors.

"I'm happy for my guys," West coach Mark Ogilvie said. "They did good. I liked their times and they had good splits. But we can work harder. Monday's another workout. So we'll dial it down little bit faster and hope to stay together and stay healthy."

Ogilvie said his team is already looking ahead to the Division III section meet where it hopes to knock off top-contender Fresno-Roosevelt and always-tough Ridgeview. The Vikings and Wolf Pack boys will first battle it out for the South Yosemite League title.

On the girls side McFarland, which had five runners finish in the top 11, dominated the team competition, out-pointing second-place Liberty 30-102.

"We had a good showing and our girls are going to be there for valley," McFarland assistant coach Daniel Diaz said.

"I'm sure our coach will have our top seven ready to go when we get to the races that matter towards the end of the season."

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