Waterford Wildcats Boys Cross Country Team Makes History


Photo by Cari Blagg Staley

WATERFORD, CA - Back in October and November of 2018, something historic happened. For the first time in the 17 years since Waterford High School was established, the Waterford Boys Varsity Cross Country team became Southern Athletic League Champions. This was an incredible accomplishment for Waterford High School, showing the growth of the cross country program. At the beginning of the season, the Boys Varsity team made it a goal to bring home a league championship. This goal grew as the weeks went on and the team grew closer (and stronger) to making it to the State Championship meet as a team. Throughout the entire season the team worked hard, under the direction of third-year head coach Barry Wixom, to meet these goals. The determination of these goals came from upsetting defeats to Delhi over the past two years, and the boys knew they had to beat the Hawks this year. Last year was the hardest for the boys, as they were only one place away from winning the championship title. The points had come down to a tie for first within the top five runners from Waterford and Delhi, and when the sixth runner from each team were accounted for, Waterford ended up losing the tie. This left them with a great hunger for that first place spot, and this year that hunger was finally satisfied.When the day of the Southern Athletic League Championships arrived on October 26th, the Boys Varsity team knew they had the win in the bag. Having placed 1st in the past two league meets, all they had to do was place at least second out of four schools to win the Southern League Championship. By the end of the day, the Wildcats were able to score a total of 37 points, winning with the least amount of points against their closest opposition, Orestimba, who had a total of 39 points. Individually in the top five runners, junior Jonathan Staley took first with a time of 17:27 in the 5,000 meter race, senior Zachary Velazquez took third, freshman Evan Espinosa took fourth, freshman Angel Vargas took twelfth, and junior Alex Barajas took seventeenth. The rest of the boys, Ethan Valdez, Fernando Castillo, Jesus Franco, Fernando Perez, Arturo Figueroa, Emanuel Regalado, Estevan Bedoy, and Caiden Miranda, helped to wrap up the rest of the points and secure the win for the boys.Although pumped from having won their first Southern Athletic League Championship, the boys knew it wasn’t over yet, and continued training immediately for the Sub-Section meet. At the Sub-Section meet on November 3rd, the boys were able to place second in the team standings with a total score of 102, just behind Capital Christian, upon whom they’d had their eyes for the entire season. Individually, junior Jonathan Staley placed sixth overall, freshman Evan Espinoza took eleventh, and senior Zachary Velazquez took twelfth. The rest of the boys ran a great race, and the top seven, which included Staley, Espinoza, and Velazquez, along with junior Ethan Valdez, freshman Angel Vargas, senior Fernando Perez, and junior Emanuel Regalado, went on to the Section meet in Folsom on November 17th. Once again, the boys finished second as a team. From there, they went on to meet their goal of making it to the State Championship meet.Once again, they made history as a team, being the first Boys Cross Country full team (seven) to ever make it to the State Championships. There on November 24th, they finished 25th overall, and completed a season with wonderful results.Although this was a historic season, the boys have already set a new goal for next Cross Country season, which is to place higher at the state meet, and take home another league championship. Sadly, they will be saying goodbye to fourth-year veteran Zachary Valazquez, as he will be graduating and heading off to college. However, with the strong support from Waterford Junior High School, as well as the Teens Run Modesto branch of Waterford, next year’s goal may just yet be in their grasp.

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