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Gauchos run 15th at state

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The Casa Grande High School boys cross country team was expected to win the Vine Valley Athletic League, compete well in the North Coast Section and have an outside chance at reaching the state meet. The Gauchos exceeded all expectations.

Not only did the Gauchos win, but they dominated the VVAL, placing all five counting runners among the top 10. Not only did they compete well at NCS, they finished third, earning a spot in the state meet. At state, not only did they run with the best in California, they finished 15th in the tough Division 3.

It was a seemingly different leader in each big race for Casa.

At state, the leader was Logan Moon, who finished 57th, running the 5K course at Woodward Park in Fresno in 16 minutes, 23 seconds.

As always, the Gauchos received exceptional efforts from all their runners. Nolan Hosbein was 82nd in 16:41; Luke Baird 107th in 16:51; Jake Dietlin 126th in 17:02; William Hite 162nd in 17:33; Aaron Beaube 177th in 17:45; and Andrew Gotshall 191st in 17:58.

“We were happy with 15th place,” said Casa Grande coach Carl Triola. “Our goal was to get into the top 10, but realistically we thought we could be in the top 15 and we finished right there.”

Casa Grande went into the run with Hite bothered by an ankle injury, but Moon stepped up big time to lead the way.

He was only the most recent of a strong team of runners who seemingly took turns leading the way.

In the North Coast Section meet, it was Baird who stepped up, finishing 24th as Casa edged Tamalpais by just one point for third place.

At other times, Hosbein, Hite and Dietlin all had their moments in the spotlight.

Triola pointed out that Baube and Gotshall, who ran sixth and seventh for Casa Grande, were also important contributors by taking points away from opposing teams.

“It is hard to pick out one guy as the leader,” Triola said. “Every week somebody different stepped up. They all had the drive. They set their goal to go to state and they reached it.”

Casa Grande ran all year with Owen Hite, William’s brother, and projected to be one of the team’s top runners, out with an injury.

“They (the runners) knew we wouldn’t have Owen and they all stepped up,” the coach said.

Almost the entire Casa Grande team will be back next season. Only Moon and Gotshall are seniors. Add a healthy Owen Hite, and the future could well be as shining as the recent past.

There is one thing Triola is still looking for the Gauchos to accomplish.

“I’m waiting for everyone to run a perfect race,” he said, explaining he means for everyone to have their best race in the same meet. It is scary to think how good the Gauchos will be when that happens.

Casa Grande’s finish was part of an overall good day for North Coast Section teams in the Division 3 run.

Campolindo held off Maria Carrillo, 47-64, to take the state championship. Tamalpais finished just ahead of Casa Grande in 14th place.

Casa Grande senior Emma Baswell just missed qualifying for the state girls meet, completing her outstanding Gaucho career by finishing 14th in the NCS meet and running a personal best 18:39.1 over the 3-mile course. She missed qualifying for state by two places.

The senior leader was one of only five healthy Casa runners by the end of the season.

“Having Alessandra Alvarenga, Lisa Wiedenhofer (foreign exchange student from Germany), Taylor Pieri, and frosh Kayla Jimenez step up for our last two meets was exceptional. They could have very easily given up and called it a season,” said Triola.

Casa Grande finished second in league with Wiedenhofer running on a bad knee after taking a fall in practice in the week prior to the race.

Pieri was scheduled to run in the junior varsity race in the league meet, but had to move up to the varsity when a teammate suffered an injury.

Jimenez had only junior high experience before the season, but continually improved and by the end of the season was running No. 2.

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