Every year, the hope of Casa Grande High cross country coaches Carl Triola and Jamie Pugh is to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Fresno. Not to visit relatives, but rather to accompany Gaucho runners to the California State Cross Country Championships.
After months of training, Triola and Pugh get their wish for 2012 as eight Casa runners qualified for the meet that takes place.
Casa's girls qualified for state as a team by running through extremely muddy and slow course conditions against stiff competition at last Saturday's North Coast Section Championships. They earned a trip to Fresno and the NCS medal stand with their third-place team finish out of 15 teams competing.
Leading the charge was first place finisher (and now two-time NCS individual champion) Ashley Moffett, with a time of 19:11 on the three-mile course at Hayward High. Also finishing in the top 10 was freshman Saskia van Ommeren-Egbert who took ninth place out of over 100 runners in the race with a time of 19:57.
Also contributing to Casa's trip to the podium were Chloe Hall (20th in 20:33), Andrea Gonzalez (29th in 21:08), Hailey Falk (31st in 21:10), Ileana Moon (34th in 21:20) and Adria Barich (37th in 21:27).
For seniors Moffett and Hall, it is their third trip to the state meet. For the others, all freshmen and sophomores, their hope is that this is a preview of future treks to Fresno.
On the boys side, Matt Salazar put on a dazzling show with a second-place finish in the Division 2 boys race, earning him a trip to the state meet as an individual. Salazar's time of 16:06 made him the fastest freshman in any of the championship races and earned him third team All-NCS honors across all divisions. Moffett earned the same All-NCS distinction.
Taking the course with no senior runners, the Casa boys team took seventh out of 17 teams competing. Running in the NCS Championship race for the Gauchos were Nicholas Rauch (17:01), Harrison Wistock (17:04), Griffin Wigert (17:48), Stanley Goto (18:51), Zach Nussdorfer (19:05) and Andrew Langwell (19:25).