PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Miners look to keep season going with strong showing at Section Championships
They’re hard working, determined, a little goofy and very fast.
They are a tight-knit group of distance runners who make up the Nevada Union Miners cross country team and they have been charging up and down trails all season long.
After a stellar showing at the Sac-Joaquin Subsection Meet a week ago, the Miners are focused on the upcoming Sac-Joaquin Section Championships and earning a trip to CIF State Championships Nov. 24 in Fresno.
“We’re excited,” NU coach Angie Marino said. “We can’t wait. They’ve earned it. They’ve been running since June for (this meet). I’m excited to see what they can do.”
The Miners will have to wait another week to compete in the Section Championships, though, as the meet, which was originally scheduled for today, has been postponed until No. 17 due to poor air quality caused by the Camp Fire.
Leading the NU harriers all season has been Garrett Gough.
“He’s so determined every race,” said NU coach Sara Freitas. “He’s got a goal and he will come just short of killing himself to match that goal. He’s done it every single race this year.”
The senior has won all but one of the races he’s competed in this season, breaking several NU records along the way.
“He never gives up,” Marino said.
Gough is just one of several talented runners for the Miners boys team. NU varsity runners Jake Slade, Decker Krogh, Travis Selby, Wyatt Gough, Antonio Valenti and Cole Barton have all been instrumental to the Miners’ success this season.
“The key to our success has been us really coming together and really focusing,” Gough said. “I think we have a really great team that’s dedicated and there is a lot of competition between us, but it’s really friendly. We have great coaches and the beautiful terrain of Nevada County around us and I think that’s all contributed to our success.”
The boys team took second at the Foothill Valley League Championships and placed second in the Subsection D-III race. The team is looking for a top-three finish at the Section Championships, which would earn them a spot at the State Meet.
The girls team, led by a pair of sophomores, has also been quite successful this season. The Lady Miners ran down the FVL championship and placed third at the Subsection Meet.
“It’s a young team,” Freitas said. “We have two sophomores, three freshmen and a senior. The sophomores are leading the charge.”
Those sensational sophomores are Mackenzie Morgan and Sephora Wontor.
“Both are terribly committed work horses,” Freitas said. “They try so hard, they do everything we ask of them and more, and they give their all every time they race. They’re great leaders for the rest of the girls.”
Morgan and Wontor, along with freshman Hannah Montgomery, freshman Megan Schreck, freshman Caitlyn Sullivan, junior Hannah Tiffany and senior Izzy Smith, are looking to finish in the top-three at the Section Meet and earn a spot at the State Championships.
“My teammates really push me,” Wontor said. “I don’t think I could do this sport without the strength of having the people around me who enjoy doing the same thing I do. If we continue to stay motivated and dedicated like we have been ever since the start of the season, I think we can do really well. We strive to do the best we can and our teammates help us reach that goal. We reach it together.”
Morgan added, “We run in a pack and I feel like that motivates us a lot. That’s not only good for ourselves, but for points it helps a lot. The closeness of this team is amazing. It’s not like any other team I’ve been on. It’s really like a family.”
WORKING AS ONE
The Miners are a close bunch, each one encouraging and driving the next to greater achievements.
“We’re like one big family,” NU team captain Cayden Hennessey said. “There’s not any outliers on the team. We all work as one and it’s a really enjoyable environment.”
Freitas added the team can be a bit silly in addition to being talented and determined. And that combination has delivered strong results.
“They are pretty darn goofy,” she said. “They get a long pretty well. They have a really good energy and they work well together.”
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
The boys team will lose a handful of seniors after this season, but the girls only graduate one, and both Freitas and Marino are optimistic about the future of the program.
In addition to the boys and girls varsity teams competing at the section championships, NU’s junior varsity boys team as well as several individual runners in the freshmen and sophomore levels will be competing.
NU’s boys JV team is led by Hennessey, Ryan Morgan and Cole Retzler. NU’s Alma Ramirez is NU’s lone JV girls runner who will be competing at the Section Championships after she placed third at the Subsection meet.
The Miners who will compete in the boys freshmen race at the Section Championships will be T.J. Parnow and Harry Retzler, who placed first and third respectively at the Subsection meet. Competing the girls frosh/soph race will be Skyler Meinholz, who took ninth at the Subsection meet.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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