Sonora Wildcat sophomore Steven Grolle continued his early-season cross country success with a first-place finish in the Sierra Invitational at Legion-Tuolumne Regional Park in Modesto.
Grolle is now the top Wildcat runner ever at Legion Park. He ran 27 seconds faster than any other Wildcat.
Grolle beat a field of 228 varsity boy competitors with a time of 16:33, a 5:20 per mile pace.
The invitational is divided into large and small schools, with Sonora being a small school. Grolle not only was the small-school champion, but the overall winner.
“He won by a nice margin (10 seconds),” said Wildcat head coach Glenn Bass. “He even looked like he was loafing as he crossed the finish line. He had a great start and took the lead before the first mile. I only wish I could clone him — great personality, incredible work ethic and just plain fun to have on the team.”
Grolle took the lead by the first mile, but was passed at about the two-mile mark.
“It was kind of heartbreaking being passed at that point,” said Grolle. “But I was able to pass him back with around 800 meters left and I knew if I didn’t get him then, I wasn’t going to be able to get by.”
Bret Harte’s Joe Hollett finished in third place with a time of 17:14 and Wildcat Clancy McConnell finished fourth with a time of 17:16.
Also for the Bret Harte boys, Eli Cardiel finished 13th (18:28) and Jared Seider was 20th (19:05).
As a team, the Bullfrogs finished in second place behind Sierra, with Sonora claiming third.
“On the boys side, we just keep looking stronger, as we continue to improve,” said Bret Harte head coach Keith Maurer. “Joe had a great performance, Eli and Kevin (Maurer, 22nd) are consistent, but Jared, Garret (Brown, 23rd) and Kyle (Hovey, 25th) made great leaps forward.”
The Summerville Bear boys were led by Jake Kulik who finished with a time of 21:54 (60th). Also for the Bears, Chris Gaef recorded a time of 22:13 and Sheamus Vaughn-Ward finished with a time of 23:13.
For the girls, Summerville’s Kristen Turner raced to the small-school title and finished just seven seconds behind the overall winner. She finished with a time of 19:29, a blistering 6:16 per mile pace.
Finishing just behind Turner for the second consecutive race was Bret Harte’s Kaylee Sedler. Sedler finished with a time of 19:39 which helped lead the Bullfrogs to the small-school championship ahead of 21 other schools.
Sonora’s Samantha Smith finished in third place with a time of 20:18.
Also for Bret Harte, Rachel Spellenberg finished in fifth place with a time of 21:17, Hannah Cantrell was eighth in 21:37 and Katharine Aiton was 10th in 21:44.
“Kaylee had a great performance as usual and Rachel just keeps improving in only her third ever race,” said Maurer. “Our runners did quite well. Out of six scoring races (including frosh, soph boys and girls) we won four and placed second in another.”