BVAL XC championship 10-31-2018

Keanna Shipley (519) finished second in the Bay Valley Athletic League Cross Country Championships girls' varsity 3- mile race held at Contra Loma Regional Park in Antioch, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. Freedom's Kylee Denver (305) claimed the girls' varsity 3-mile race while Heritage's Max Waechter (473) took the boys' varsity 3-mile race. Liberty earned the top-team award in both races. (Tony Kukulich/The Press)

Freedom’s Kylee Denver and Heritage’s Maxwell Waechter led the pack at the North Coast Section cross-country championships, but Liberty stole the show.

The Lions’ boys placed four runners in the top 5 and five in the top 10, and the girls landed five in the top 10, giving both squads team victories.

“This wasn’t one of our stronger years as a girls’ team, but they still stayed confident in themselves and worked hard to keep the tradition alive in terms of winning in our program,” said Liberty head coach Eric Morford. “ … And the boys have just been motivated for so long now in terms of always looking up at Heritage as the big brother. The boys were fully confident in themselves that they were prepared.” 

The boys placed Micah Delgado (32.31 seconds off Waechter at 17:34.32), Anthony Portillo, (17:43.69), Nic Lewis (17:49.51), Keene Sample (17:59.62) and Alex Bergqvist (18:06.51) in second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh to guide the Lions to the easy victory.

The girls’ squad was equally impressive, with Keanna Shipley (33.30 seconds off Denver at 20:47.52), Makena Bohannon (21:53.69), Lily Castro (22:01.82), Jasmine Chuey (22:54.07) and Skylar Mendes (23:07.81) finishing second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

Heritage (59 points or 38 points behind Liberty’s 21) finished second in the boys’ race, with Freedom (94 points) third, Antioch (101) fourth, Pittsburg (129) fifth and Deer Valley (134) sixth.

The Falcons (55 points or 29 points behind Liberty) finished second in the girls’ race, while Deer Valley (75 points) third; Heritage (104) fourth, Antioch (109) fifth and Pittsburg (132) sixth.

The Lions’ dominance largely overshadowed stellar individual performances by Freedom freshman Denver and Heritage senior Waechter, who won the challenging girls’ and boys’ races in 20:14.22 and 17:02.01. Both finished about half a minute faster than their top challengers on the hilly 3-mile course.

“Throughout the whole race I was feeling pretty strong,” said Denver. “Going up varsity hill, it got a lot tougher, but I was just keeping in my mind to stay strong and push myself.”

Waechter, who finished third in the event last year, held off Liberty’s Delgado, who appeared to suffer calf discomfort during the race after initially taking the lead.

“It would have been a really close race (had Delgado not suffered calf pain),” said Waechter.

Next up for all Bay Valley Athletic League squads is the North Coast Section championship Nov. 17 for a shot to advance to the state meet.

The North Coast Section meet is scheduled for Nov. 17 at Hayward High School.