Cross Country

The Bay Valley Athleitc League's top cross country stars, seen above, vied for league titles last week.


Cross-country runners from around the Bay Valley Athletic League gathered on Wednesday, March 31, to participate in the BVAL Cross Country Championships for the “2020” season. When all was said and done, the two Brentwood schools — Liberty and Heritage — reigned supreme.

The Patriots were victorious in the boys competition, finishing with 37 points. That was five better than the 42 from the Lions. Things were flipped in the girls competition, where Liberty won, finishing with 23 points, and Heritage was second with 38.

“Considering the amount of injuries we had top to bottom this season, I felt that our teams performed admirably,” Liberty coach Eric Morford said. “Our girls put together a solid all-around performance to hold off a strong Heritage Girls squad.”

Depth was key for the Patriots in the boys race. Junior Dominic DiPiero [17:09.96] finished fourth and was the only Heritage boy in the top 5. But what the Patriots lacked in top-5 finishes, they more than made up for with the rest of the top 10. Senior Joesiah Kriston [17:19.94] placed sixth, while teammates sophomore Jordan Maldonado [17:36.09], junior James Woolery [17:44.43] and senior Vincent Ceja [17:45.83] finished eighth, ninth and tenth, respectively.

Liberty senior Keene Sample [16:13.76] crossed the finish line first, with sophomore Matias Rogers [16:49.01] in third. Deer Valley senior Hunter Phillips [16:31.27] finished between them.

“Even though our boys team came up just short of the Heritage Boys, I’m proud that they believed in their success and put themselves in a position to battle at the mile point of the race,” Morford said.

The Lions coach also credited Liberty sophomore, Dylan Baptista. Baptista [18:28.18] finished 15th. His performance wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, which, Morford noted, shows how much better he’s gotten.

“He’s had far better races than he showed at the championships, but I’m proud of the amazing season he had,” Morford said. “To think that the way Dylan performed was now what we consider a ‘bad day’ is crazy. He has improved more rapidly than any athlete I’ve ever coached because of his passion and dedication to his improvement.”

The girls race was similar to the boys race, in that a runner from the second place team finished first individually. Patriot senior Renny Buchanan was the top girl, finishing in 20:35.12. Behind her were a trio of Lions: senior Sidney Jenks [20.45.35], sophomore Rylee Guinn [20:57.93] and junior Kiran McWilliams [21:10.74]. Heritage junior Sabrina Rogers [21:26.04] rounded out the top 5.

In the boys race, Deer Valley [86], Freedom [100] and Antioch [107] rounded out to team scores. In addition to Phillips, Wolverine junior Daniel Gober also finished high, placing fifth [17:15.30]. Junior Wyatt Erickson [17:34.59] was the top-finishing Falcon, finishing in seventh, while Panther senior Sid Valdez [18:57.86] came in 16th and was the top-finishing Antioch runner. Pittsburg senior Abel Avalos [20:30.07] was 21st.

On the girls side, Deer Valley [71 points] was the only team other than Liberty and Heritage with enough runners to field a team. Senior Ashley Hernandez [22:08.40] led the Wolverines, finishing in tenth place.

Pirates sophomore Gabriella Hernandez [21:43.37] finished eighth, the best finisher not from one of the two Brentwood schools. Junior Annalysia Gomez [25:24.44] and senior Marisol Becerra [29:07.62] were the top finishers from Antioch and Freedom, finishing 18th and 25th, respectively.

“I’d like to thank the BVAL and LUHSD for putting in the time to the sport of cross country and giving us the opportunity to have a 2020 season,” Morford said. “I loved the way our league handled this season. We have the kindest coaches in our league who look for the best in both their own runners and the competition,” he added. “We especially all wanted to put forth our best to give the Class of 2021 some normalcy in their final year of high school.”