Los Banos High's cross country teams took a stride in the right direction Wednesday with both the Tiger boys and girls defeating Central Valley at LB's new home course on the canal from Gardens Park Five to Center Avenue.
The Tiger girls took the top six spots on the way to a 15-49 rout (a runner earns points equal to his or her place, with the lowest score winning). The trio of Sarah Gama and twin sisters Brittney and Nicole Berek stayed even with each other in a line abreast for most of the race before Gama broke away over the last mile of the 3.1-mile race to win at 21 minutes, 52 seconds.
"I don't know the time, but we have a spot on the canal where we always separate, about two bridges down," Gama said. "It's pretty quiet. I guess we have our own type of language when we're running."
Brittney Berek came across at 21:57 for second, followed 10 seconds later by Nicole Berek in third. Maria Aguilar was fourth (25:03), Richelle Delapaz fifth (25:13) and Alejandra Villegas sixth (26:08) to seal the win.
"This year I feel like the team is pretty strong. We have a lot of great runners," Gama said. "We have a lot of freshmen -- the JV is a pretty strong team. On varsity, for girls I think we have a strong team as well.
"I have a feeling we could make it past sectionals. That's our goal this year, and I think we can do that."
Los Banos stayed undefeated (3-0 in the WAC) with the win, and will travel to the other undefeated team, Livingston, on Oct. 10.
The boys race was a lot tighter, with LB winning 25-30 top improved to 2-1 in the WAC. Christian Beltran set the pace at 18:11, followed closely by Central Valley's Ben Saldara (18:19).
"Some things are going on, and I just needed to get out there and run," Beltran said. "The first thing that popped into my head was, you know the Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine? He has a quote, 'The best pace is a suicide pace, and today is a good day to die.'
"Well, at the invitational I did that and I was feeling good, so I thought I'd do it today, too."
The race offered a bit of redemption for Beltran, who blames himself for LB's only WAC loss so far.
"So far, we're stable. The last race we lost was on me. I went through something and I couldn't run, and we lost that race," Beltran said. "So from now on, I'm making it up to the team. I going to show up to practice and do the team good."
Beltran didn't do it alone, though. Steve Georgiou placed third (18:50), Michael Salaz fifth (19:14), and Noah Camacho made the difference by beating out Central Valley's Nick Gonzalez by five seconds (19:29 to 19:34) for sixth place.
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org