Back to business locally after a whirlwind trip to Hawaii, several Riverbank runners put together solid efforts at the recent Iolani Invitational on Oahu, including a medal for one runner.
“The trip was great for the kids. They were able to see and do a lot and competed very well against some of the best teams from California and Hawaii,” said cross country coach Monte Wood. “Dana Hills a DI top 3 school from last year was there, Palos Verdes the D3 girls’ state champions was there, J Serra a top 3 school in D4 was there, and Laguna Beach who placed fourth at last year’s state meet in D4 girls was there.
“I was speaking with one of the Hawaii coaches before the start of the girl’s race and he said, “All the California schools decided to show this year, didn’t they.” It was the deepest and toughest competition of the three times we have been there.”
Wood added that even some of the Hawaii schools were much better this time. The course was also significantly tougher.
“It was closer to 5k instead of three miles this year and there had been a lot of rain, so the course was muddy and the grass was tall,” explained Wood. “Since the course changed so much it was hard to compare our times from 2011 and 2013 to this year’s times. Kim Ruvalcaba was seventh overall in the girl’s race. The top 10 medaled in the race and for her to place seventh was a very impressive finish.”
She was sitting in 30th place in the first 800 but had made her way all the way up to 20th by the mile mark. She then was in 10th place at the 2-mile mark, Wood said, and finished in seventh.
“She said she felt great during the race and thought she could have gone out faster. The start of that race is so crucial because of the number of runners and the course narrows very quickly. Stephanie Bernal finished in 23rd which was also impressive.”
The girls were seventh overall.
“I was hoping for top five, and we were close, but our number four and five runners just needed to place higher. Sophomore Diana Herrera ran really well and is starting to put it all together. She started slow but finished strong and was tough on the hills.”
The boys finished in ninth place overall.
“Their times were really good, but we didn’t get to run Diego Ruiz because of Achilles pain,” noted Wood. “We just couldn’t risk running him and possibly losing him for the rest of the year. He was heartbroken to say the least. If we had him, we probably would have finished in sixth.”
Eric Wise, Michael Rodriguez, Noah Glynn, and Chris Martinez are really improving, Wood added.
“I was especially impressed with Eric Wise. The boys team has such great chemistry and they are working very hard together,” explained Wood. “Ruben Paredez was the top finisher for the boys team. He moved from 50th place at the start of the race all the way up to 30th place by the end of the race.”