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Sutter shocks RedHawks in BVL finals
Rain began to pour on the Colusa High bus as it pulled onto Highway 20, fitting the mood of its occupants.
After dominating the regular season in the Butte View League, injuries and off-days from several runners abruptly ended the RedHawks' run for the first varsity boys cross country league title in school history Wednesday at the league championship meet in Sutter.
Sutter High won its first meet of the season at the most opportune time, snatching the team crown with 40 points, beating out Colusa and Durham, which tied for second place with 44 points. The RedHawks won the first five BVL meets of the season before Durham won the final regular season meet.
The RedHawks varsity girls team took third place on the strength of top-5 finishes by senior Paige Townzen and freshman Nadine Ahola. Sutter won the varsity girls race with a team score of 45, Gridley secured second place with 55 points and Colusa was close behind with 59 points.
Five varsity runners claimed all-league honors; Christian Marzan, Luke Corriea and Max Valdez in the varsity boys race, and Townzen and Ahola in the varsity girls race.
"It's good to see success but not exactly the way we wanted it or envisioned it today," Colusa coach Matt Giffin said.
Colusa's varsity boys team was without two runners, Ryan Mead and Eric Barrera, and Ross Cervantes gutted out a foot injury but finished in 12th place, a far cry from the second place spot he locked down during the first five league races of the season.
"I'm not happy, but what are we going to do? It's an injury, there's nothing we can do about it," Giffin said about watching the championship slip away.
Marzan, a sophomore, ran a great race and finished in third place just three seconds behind Durham's Ryder Pisenti, and 35 seconds behind the Trojans' Damon Young, who set a course record of 16 minutes, 55 seconds on the 3.1 mile course at Sutter High.
Senior runner Luke Corriea pushed hard all race knowing how tightly contested the title hunt would be and dropped nearly two minutes off his course time, finishing in seventh place (17:57).
"(The disappointment) was pretty bad because all year, all we talked about was winning league. We knew we had the strongest team and then Sutter just piled on the guys towards the end, got more people than us, then Ross got hurt," Corriea said.
The Sutter course isn't particularly difficult physically, but it is a challenge mentally, Corriea said. The course starts on the track, loops through an orchard before shooting up a hillside to the water tower. The return trip down the hillside and the final stretch are the most difficult parts.
"It's just being able to see everyone in front of you and think, wow, they're so far ahead of me I probably won't be able to catch them," Corriea said.
Freshman Max Valdez fell to ninth place after a fast start, and Cervantes and Felipe Granados finished within a second of each other in 12th and 13th places. Ernesto Mendez crossed the finish line in 19th place.
The varsity girls team finished in third place but Townzen, a senior, was content with how the team did because they had the minimum five runners to qualify, including Ahola, a freshman who moved up to varsity in the middle of the season.
"I'm proud of the girls, we all got better and we all shaved minutes off of our original times when we first came here," Townzen said.
Townzen (4th) and Ahola (5th) led the RedHawks contingent of Mariana Martinez (12th), Aimee Maldonado (18th) and Alexia Vargas (20th).
Colusa's junior varsity boys team took second place behind Sutter, and Alan Iniguez covered the 2.1-mile course in 12:12, good for second place. Teddy Vaillancourt (6th), Sal Valencia (7th) and Cai Dunham (10th) all earned medals for the RedHawks. Tristen Mendenhall (13th) and Bryan Garibay (17th) ran quick times on the cool and windy course.
Andrea Thomas, Colusa's lone junior varsity girl runner, earned a medal for her fifth-place finish.
The RedHawks hope to be healthy enough on Thursday to challenge Mt. Shasta and University Prep at the Northern Section Finals at West Valley High in Cottonwood for a chance to go to the State Championships, which take place Nov. 24 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.