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Riverbank Runners Prep For State Meet Appearance Bruins Fresno Bound On Friday
School officials were forced to usher a group of Riverbank High athletes out of the cafeteria late Thursday, well after students and coaches were recognized during the Fall Sports Awards Night.

The kids weren't up to any trouble; they just enjoyed socializing among one of the only Sac-Joaquin Section fall sports programs still in competition.

The group, representing Riverbank's perennially dominant boys and girls cross country squads, is still active in another prestigious season among the state's best harriers.

"They had to kick our kids out of the cafeteria to get them to go home," Riverbank coach Monte Wood said. "They just like being around each other and are still having fun."

The varsity girls team and standout boys runner Ben Hodges will bring their season to a close on Saturday at the California Interscholastic Federation Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The team traveled to Fresno last week for a practice session on the state championship course. They leave Friday, Nov. 26 to check-in and get a last-minute practice run in before Saturday's season finale.

"All the kids are very upbeat and excited," coach Wood said. "They are still enjoying running, so that is a good thing."

Riverbank has now advanced runners to the state meet in five consecutive seasons, including full team qualifications in 2005 (boys and girls), 2006 (boys), 2007 (boys) and 2010 (girls). Riverbank boys and girls have placed top-seven at the SJS D-IV finals in each season since 2005, and saw current senior, Hodges, make his first state trip in 2008.

Coach Wood said the team will try for a personal record on the five kilometer course, with a goal to leave Bruin girls as the top-placing D-IV team from the SJS.

"The course is easier than the section course, but the race will be fast," Wood said. "We want to remain the top team from our section, and we hope to finish in the top half of D-IV."

Angela Duran rolled her ankle at the SJS finals, but ran well during practice sessions this past week and is ready for her final race of the season.