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Garcia breaks RHS record; team places fifth at state
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Riverbank High School sophomore Maritza Garcia finished eighth in Division IV at the Cross Country State Finals in Fresno on Nov. 27, running 18:52 on muddy terrain.

Riverbank finished fifth as a team. Other times included Bianca Melchor, 31st in 19:51, and Georgina Arnold, 32nd in 19:56. There were 185 total runners.

Brettany Harrison was 44th overall in 20:16, and Angelica Duarte placed 68th (20:51). Asia Harrison finished 78th (21:05), and Tiffany Lackey was 89th (21:19).

"Despite wet and windy conditions, Garcia powered her way to the best showing in RHS history for a runner at the finals," said coach Jeep Oliveira. "Her time was faster by some 40 seconds. Nobody from Riverbank has ever broken 19:30 before."

Garcia ran a smart race, finishing the first mile in 5:50 and having a time of 12:10 at the two-mile mark.

"She just kept the pressure on the pace and wouldn't let up," Oliveira said. "She was about 15th place with a mile to go, but continued to close on the leaders."

The team overall was happy for Maritza but disappointed in their fifth place finish. San Lorenzo Valley placed first, and Bishop O'Dowd (a Catholic school from Oakland) placed team second with the first and third-place runners. Half Moon Bay was third, and Orange Lutheran from the Southern Section was fourth.

The Bruins beat out O'Dowd at the Clovis Invitational, and Orange Lutheran at Mount San Antonio.

"We just weren't 100 percent," Oliveira said. "At state, you have to be on. Everyone has to be under 20:00 to have a shot at the team title."

Riverbank, however, has won three section titles in a row, and with a team of six juniors and one sophomore, all will return next year.

Garcia and her teammates will also compete individually at the Foot Locker western regionals on Dec. 4 at Mt. San Antonio. The meet will include the best runners from the 11 western states and overseas U.S. military installations, such as Guam.