Riverbank’s cross country boys finished their season as undefeated Trans-Valley League champions, taking the title at Wednesday’s TVL finals in Modesto.
“The race was close though,” said head coach Monte Wood. “We were behind going into the last half of the race, but Michael Rodriguez, Eric Wise, and Diego Ruiz passed several runners in the last 1000 meters to pull out the victory.”
Though Wood said it wasn’t the best meet the team has run this season, it got the job done.
“What these boys have accomplished so far is really impressive. At the end of the year last year, we thought there would be no way we would be in a position to win the TVL title for a third year in a row,” Wood added. “Eric Wise has just started running. Michael Rodriguez was struggling with health issues. Noah Glynn wasn’t even at Riverbank High School. Yet, they came together as a team and have performed very well this season.”
Wood said the team members have worked hard and have worked together, which is so vital to be successful as a team in cross country.
“This isn’t the most talented group we have had, but their team chemistry is awesome. We are ranked third in the section right now, but we have to improve from now until November 14,” noted the coach. “This week is subsection which is just a qualifying race. The big one is November 14th. The top two finishing teams in the section go on to the state meet. These boys have worked hard, and I know they have the ability to grab one of those two spots. But it won’t be easy.”
On the girls’ side, Riverbank’s Lady Bruins finished second. Wood said the girls ran better than they did at the second meet, but it just wasn’t good enough.
“Hughson has a very good team and ran really well. Overall, the TVL was really tough this year,” Wood said. “Eight girls ran under 20:25 in the race. In the past, only three or four would do that.”
The brightest spot for the girls was having the league champion. Kim Ruvalcaba was the TVL champion for the second year in a row.
“She ran 19:06 which is really impressive considering she ran by herself for the entire race,” Wood said. “We were hoping for her to run under 19 but not having anyone there to push her probably kept her from doing that.”
Sophomore Alondra Valdez might have been the story of the day, though.
“In only her second 5k, she ran 21:59. That was almost a 4-minute personal record for her,” Wood said of the tenth grader. “She may be the next great Riverbank distance runner if she continues to train. She has only been running since the start of September, and many kids can’t run that kind of time even after years of training.”
Right now the girls are ranked fourth in the section.
“If Alondra continues to improve and Lydia Hodges can get healthy, we will have a chance at one of the two state qualifying spots.”
The teams head to Angels Camp for the subsections on Saturday, Nov. 7.