Cross Country Runners Hoping to Gain Momentum

Submitted by Denair High School

The Denair High School cross country team will look to rebound from a slow start in the coming weeks.

The Coyotes finished sixth Thursday in the first of two Southern League meets at Tuolumne River Regional Park in Modesto.

Denair’s team score of 128 (based on the cumulative total of where the five fastest runners finished in the race) left it well behind Waterford (30 points), Orestimba (48), Delhi (56) and Ripon Christian (94).

Senior Uriel Gonzalez (22 minutes, 58 seconds) and sophomore Pablo Flores (22:03) finished back-to-back in 21st and 22nd places, respectively. Juniors Brigg Wenstrand (26:13, 35th), Ramiro Diaz (26:16, 36th), Alex de la Torre (28:49, 38th) and Johnny Ibarra (28:50, 39th) also competed on the relatively flat 5K course.

Coach Matthew Groom takes responsibility for the results, but he has an understandable explanation – he just returned to school after taking time off around the birth of his son. As a result, practices, training, and participation were sporadic in the past month.

“We will work hard for the next league meet at the end of the month,” Groom promised. “I would like to get our points down to around 115 at our next meet and I hope we can break 100 points at the league finals (in late October).”

Groom credits Gonzalez, the team captain, for setting the right example during practice.

“He has shown great leadership,” the coach said. “He has worked hard every day in practice and will continue to improve on the year.”

Groom expects Flores to challenge Gonzalez as the team’s top runner this fall. That makes sense. As a freshman last year, Flores won the Sac-Joaquin Section title for his class. He will run varsity races during the regular season, but race against only sophomores in the postseason.

“I have high expectations for Pablo,” Groom said.

Wenstrand and Ibarra are veterans of last year’s team, while de la Torre and Diaz are new to cross country. Both are veterans of the soccer team in the winter; Diaz also competes in track in the spring.

“This was his first 5k and he beat some runners who have been doing this for a few years,” Groom said of Diaz. “He has a sprinting background and he is an excellent runner in the 100 and 200 for track.  I am excited about his potential, and looking forward to how good he will be when he gets more practice with running distance.”


Denair Freshman Wins Section Cross Country Title

Submitted by Denair High School

Denair’s Pablo Flores won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V cross country championship on Saturday and his teammate Julian Zavala finished third.

Flores covered the 2.1-mile course at Willow Hills Reservoir in 14 minutes, 3 seconds while Zavala was clocked in 14:50.

Denair sophomore Johnny Ibarra was 11th overall in his race, finishing the dirt and gravel course next to Folsom High School in 14:58.

Coyote head coach Matthew Groom said he was proud of all his runners.

“We had a great team this year,” he said. “Their attitudes were great and I am pleased with the effort they put out.  My next goal is to qualify a varsity runner for the Section meet. … I also want to thank (senior) Alex Flores for being the team captain over the past two years.  He showed tremendous leadership and everyone on the team looked up to him.”

Groom said Pablo Flores and Zavala have discussed possibly playing football next fall instead of running cross country. If they return, they and Ibarra likely will form the backbone of what could be a strong team in the Southern League.

He said Flores and Zavala could run varsity races in league and still be able to compete as sophomores in the invitational and Section meets, improving their chances of strong individual finishes.

The top varsity teams and individual qualifiers from the Section meet advance to the state championships in Fresno on Nov. 25.

Three Denair Runners to Compete at Section Meet

Submitted by Denair High School

Three underclassmen from the Denair High School cross country team qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Cross Country Championships this week in Folsom.

Leading the way Saturday at the Sub-Section Meet at the Frogtown Course at the Calaveras County Fairground was freshman Pablo Flores. He finished first in the Division V race on the 2.2-mile course over dirt and pavement with a time of 13 minutes, 31.4 seconds.

Finishing third in the freshman race was Julian Zavala in 15:18.4.

Flores and Zavala both will advance to Friday’s Section meet at Willow Hills Reservoir. They will be joined by sophomore Johnny Ibarra, who was clocked in 15:45 to grab the ninth individual Division V qualifying spot. Brigg Wenstrand finished 20th overall at 15:49, narrowly missing a qualifying spot.

In the varsity boys race, Denair’s Alex Flores completed the 3-mile course in 19:39. He was 66th overall and did not qualify for Folsom.

Alex Flores Runs Personal Best as Denair Finishes 4th at SL Meet

Submitted by Denair High School

The Denair High School cross country team finished fourth at the Southern League championship meet Thursday at Tuolumne River Regional Park in Modesto.

Senior Alex Flores ran his best time of the season – 20 minutes, 57 seconds over 5,000 meters – to lead the Coyotes. He finished 15th in the individual standings.

The other Denair runners in the race were freshman Pablo Flores (21:55), junior Uriel Gonzalez (22:24); sophomore Johnny Ibarra (22:28), freshman Julian Zavala (22:53) and sophomore Brigg Westrand (23:45). Ibarra and Zavala also recorded their fastest times of the season.

Delhi and Waterford tied for the team title with 31 points each (the total of the placement of each team’s top five runners). Delhi was awarded the championship based on the tiebreaker (finish of the sixth runner). Orestimba was next at 71 points, followed by Denair at 104.

Next up for the Coyotes is the Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section Meet on Nov. 4 on the Frogtown course at the Calaveras County Fairground in Angels Camp. Denair will compete in Division V against schools with similar enrollments (less than 600 students).

Coach Matthew Groom is proud of his team and said two things have stood out about the 2017 season.

“First is the willingness of our underclassmen to step up and run varsity during the league meets,” he said. “The second is the performance of our freshmen. They did really well this year. In addition, Pablo Flores became a leader of the team when our captain was not available.”

Volleyball, Cross Country Teams Search for Success

Submitted by Denair High School

The seasons have started for the athletes on the Denair high volleyball and cross country teams.

The girls playing volleyball jumped right into the Southern League schedule with two matches this week. Monday at Waterford, they lost a well-played match 25-22, 25-12 and 25-17. Wednesday at home, they fell in straight sets to Orestimba 25-9, 25-6 and 25-12.

Against Waterford, first-year Christy North felt that the “strength of our game was serving.” Cheyenne Souza and Courtney Prock each had three aces while and Alexandria Sanders and Bryanna Suarez had two each.

Against Orestimba, North was impressed by the Souza, one of the team’s outside hitters.

“In one amazing series, she hit the ball, they blocked it and we picked it up three times in the same play!” North said. “t was very exciting, especially near the beginning of the match, but then their block intimidated the rest of the girls.”

North said she is looking for improvement in passing and receiving. The Coyotes will have a chance to score their first victory with upcoming matches against Mariposa (Sept. 14) and Ripon Christian (Sept. 18).

Denair’s runners competed in the first Southern League meet Sept. 7 at Tuolumne River Regional Park in Modesto. It was a 5K course, mostly on grass with only a couple of small hills. Denair finished fourth behind Waterford, Orestimba and Delhi.

The top finisher for the Coyotes was senior Alex Flores in 21 minutes, 21 seconds. He was followed by Pablo Flores (21:40), Uriel Gonzalez (22:59), Brigg Wenstrand (23:38) and Johnny Ibarra (24:18).

“I am proud of all my team, they all ran hard,” said coach Matthew Groom. I am especially proud of my underclassmen for stepping up to varsity and giving us a chance to score as a team.”

Earlier, Denair competed against 31 other schools in the Lodi Flame Invitational at Lake Lodi. Gonzalez was the Coyotes’ top finisher in the varsity race in 24:37, while Pablo Flores had the top time (13:27) among all Division V runners in the JV race, followed by Ibarra (14:43) and Wenstrand.

Next up for Denair is the Frogtown Invitational Sept. 19 at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.