Bearcats kick off Cross Country season

Boys take second, girls third at Talley Farms

ARROYO GRANDE — The Paso Robles Bearcats cross country team opened the season this weekend at the 2018 Greg DeNike Big Ditch Invitational. Both Bearcat teams ran well and placed inside the top three at the competition. The boy’s, led by seniors Pablo Cortez and Stephen Scruggs, and junior Damien Gavilan, finished in second place overall while the girls, led by junior Jasmine Rangel and a pair of sophomores in Madeline Loff and Grace Chamberlain, finished third overall with 88 points.

“It was very good overall, especially for the girls,” head cross country coach Ivan Huff said. “I thought we had some depth and it showed that we do have some depth, you know, it’s not just four or five girls we have a pack that goes to nine or 10 which has been the MO for the boys in the past.”

The meet was divided into four different races, boys juniors and seniors, girls juniors and seniors and then freshmen and sophomores of each gender. All three of the boys leaders are either juniors and seniors and ran together while the girls have a much younger and deeper team that was separated.

Cortez, Gavilan and Scruggs all finished in the top six on the boys side they posted times just 10 seconds apart.

“The boys are really, really good up front, those first three guys,” Huff said.  “We are good through five, but we are not very deep this year with the boys so it is kind of a switch from years past. It has always been a lot of boys, a lot of numbers, good depth, girls not as deep.”

Cortez finished in third with a time of 13 minutes, 5.36 seconds, Gavilan finished fourth with a time of 13:06.24, and Scruggs finished with a time of 13:15.17.

“Honestly I kind of liked the experience,” Gavilan said. “It was a little bit different than I expected, I expected more runners to be up ahead of us because the Central Section has some really good runners, but I think we did a really good getting in the top.”

The Bearcats also placed four runners in the top 20 and five runners in the top 25 with Michael Hernandez finishing 16th with a time of 14:14.80 and Devin Dobroth finishing 14:39.92.

Ventura was the lone team to beat Paso Robles and did so by placing six boys inside the top 20.

“It is nice [to place so high] because we lost a good runner and we lost a few more over the offseason,” Cortez said. “So it definitely gives us more confidence now especially because it is the beginning so we know that we are going to get better towards the end so that is a confidence boost.”

The top finisher for the girls was junior Rangel who finished ninth overall with a time of 16:35.33. Each of Paso’s next four fastest times came on the legs of underclassmen. Sophomore Loff ran a 16:39.11, sophomore Chamberlin a 16:58.49, freshman Charlotte Castelli a 17:04.86 and sophomore Amelia Schell finished with a 17:13.08.

“It is pretty big for us because we are hoping to do better this year than last,” Loff said. “And we have a pretty solid pack so it’s exciting because, starting so early in the season, it is nice to see how good we are now and how good we can be later.”

Paso Robles seems to have another top-notch cross country team under their San Luis Obispo County legend of a head coach.

“We are looking really good but got to stay healthy on the boys side,” Huff said. “On the girls side, when you have depth you can deal with the injuries, you know, someone can rest up and get better.”

The Bearcats continue their season this weekend as they head to Morro Bay Cross Country Invitational on Saturday.


© 2019-Paso Robles Press

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