The Union Democrat Sports Department

In the final Valley Oak League cross country meet for the Sonora Wildcats, senior Steven Grolle crossed the finish line before any other runner.

Grolle won the VOL championshipon Tuesdayat Legion Park in Modesto, demolishing his personal best at that course in the process.

In their farewell to the VOL before moving to the Mother Lode League next year, the Wildcats finished in third place with a 20-4 record, behind champion Manteca and Sierra.

"Good bye to the Valley Oak League, we have seen it for the final time and showed well for our last act," said Wildcat head coach Glenn Bass.

Grolle led the way with a personal best, blowing away his previous time by 39 seconds. He finished the 5,000m course in15:54, a5:08per mile pace. He is now 40 seconds faster than any Wildcat ever at Legion Park.

"Steven owned the varsity boys' race from the opening gun," Bass said. "He IS the Valley Oak League champion for 2013. No tree drama this year."

The VOL title was taken away from Grolle in 2012 after it was decided he went the wrong way around a tree that was "not legally marked," said Bass.

Had the title not been stripped, Grolle would have three straight titles after winning as a sophomore.

But it wasn't just Grolle, who recorded personal bests at Legion Park, it was all Wildcats. Sonora placed three in the top 14 of the 53 runner field.

Shaan French Jr. destroyed his personal best by1:03, finishing 12th in a time of17:43.

Thomas Kruetzfeldt took the biggest chunk out of previous time, finishing 13th in17:46which was3:28under his best.

Paul Mika finished 14th in17:57despite feeling a little under the weather.

"Frenchy had tired legs but still did well, knocking more than a minute from this course last year," Bass said. "Thomas ran a nice PR and looks stronger with every race. and Paul ran well despite feeling a little under the weather."

Also for Sonora, Patrick McConnell was 29th in6:07, a2:03improvement, Sean Brennan was 33rd in19:02and Sven Sederquist was 50th in21:44.

Over the past 10 years in the VOL, Sonora won seven league titles and finishes third three times, the last three years.

The Wildcats will next compete in the Sub Sections onSaturday, Nov. 9at Frogtown.