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Riverbank Sends Two Runners To State Meet
A grind that began over four months ago came to a heart-wrenching end for the majority of the Riverbank High cross country runners on Saturday, yet for two Bruin standouts, the journey has just begun.

Riverbank High brothers Jacob and Ben Hodges put together a quality showing at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV cross country varsity boys' race at Folsom, earning a berth in the 2008 State Meet at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Jacob paced a talented Bruin boys squad that finished just outside of the advancing top-3 team scores with a race of 17:50, good for a ninth place overall finish.

Younger brother Ben's race of 18:01 left him in the No. 11 overall spot and with one more race to go in his already impressive season.

Riverbank narrowly missed out on advancing as an entire squad, finishing the event just behind Colfax, Christian Brothers and familiar foe Bret Harte to bring their 2008 season to a close.

Alex Reyes (18:35, 18th overall) and Chris Nunez (18:46, 20th overall) completed the course in the division's top-20, while teammates Irvin Carillo, Aaron Ortiz and Seth Munoz rounded out the Bruins' top seven.

The Lady Bruins did not fare as well, closing out the season with a seventh place finish at the Section Meet. Riverbank was forced to deal with an ongoing bout of illness amongst the squad, dealing the Lady Bruins a tough hand that resulted in no individuals advancing on to the Fresno meet.

Tayler Anderson battled illness to finish as the only Lady Bruin in the meet's top-20, finishing off her senior season with a 22:32 run.

"Tayler ran a gutsy race," Riverbank head coach Monte Wood said. "Despite her having the flu and it being hot out, she still competed.

"She really did a great job."

Riverbank's Lizzie Uscanga (22:50) came in just behind Anderson, while teammates Natalia Herrera (23:10), Gemma McHugh, Paola Medina, and Aimee Felix rounded out the Lady Bruin top-6.

The Hodges brothers will continue to prepare for another trip to the CIF State Meet Nov. 29. The Riverbank pair will join the best distance runners in the entire state for an opportunity to leave their mark on an already impressive Bruin cross country tradition.

The Lady Bruins will obviously grow from their experience during the sections and come into camp next season with even bigger expectations than they took to the course this season.

"The good thing that we're holding on to is that five of our top seven girls are returning next season," Wood said. "And each of them showed tremendous improvements from last season."