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CHAMPIONS! Riverbank Wins Section Title, Qualifies Eight To State
Jackie Herrera had the race of her life and seven other Riverbank High varsity cross country runners joined in on the fun at Willow Hill in Folsom on Saturday with Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV medals and advancements to next week's state championships in Fresno.

Herrera's 20 minute, 59 second time on the 3300-meter course was the first of five Lady Bruin finishes in the top-25 among a field of 76 qualifying competitors.

The fast times led Riverbank girls to just 66 team points, well ahead of second place Bret Harte (79) and third place Bear River (107), both who qualified for state as well.

Mikayla Florez was just behind Herrera at 11th overall, while Bruins Adriana Rosales (13th), Jocelyn Rosales (22nd) and Gina Retana (24th) scored high placements as well.

"The reality is we had a lot of bad things happen during the race," Riverbank coach Monte Wood said. "Yet they held on like pitbulls. They invested a lot of time and energy for this race."

Adriana Rosales faltered from her normal post at the front of the pack while Angela Duran (31st) rolled her ankle and Retana battled a knee injury. It created some interesting in-race drama, but only translated into another big win for a young program that returns all but one (Jocelyn Rosales) of their top six runners next year.

"While Adriana struggled a little, Jackie picked it up, and it has been like that for two years," coach Wood said. "When Jackie struggles, Adriana is there to make up for it. It is like that with our whole team.

"They just are a fantastic team."

Riverbank's varsity boys (fourth place) narrowly missed a state berth, but saw an impressive third place overall finish from two-time state qualifier Ben Hodges, who is also headed to Fresno. Hodges finished the race in 17:22, and saw teammates Adrian Salazar (18:44) and Luis Figuero (19:11) nab the second and third fastest times of any freshmen in the race.

"I am just as proud of the boys team," coach Wood said. "There were three freshmen who were in the top 30 of the varsity race and two of them were from Riverbank."

Riverbank's frosh-soph girls managed to land all seven participants in the top 29 of 49 runners, snaring runner-up honors in the event. Kaitlin Jimenez was 11th while Denisse Zamora finished 17th and Kim Munguia 19th.

The Bruins leave on Nov. 26 for a quick course preview and preparation for the Nov. 27 state meet at Woodward Park.

"I just hope they have something left in the tank for the state meet," Coach Wood said. "This group of kids is just special. They work hard, we have fun, and they are just a joy to coach and be around."