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Potter cross country debut includes eighth-grade girls wins

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Today Potter Junior High School will host the Big Ten Middle School League cross country meet. The Braves won the eighth-grade girls team portion of both of the season’s first two meets with Kora Mochel being the top eighth-grade girls race finisher Sept. 21.

The Sept. 14 meet hosted by Martin Luther King Middle School in Oceanside and the Sept. 21 meet hosted by Lincoln Middle School in Oceanside began the first year of the Potter cross country program. “This has never happened before in the history of Potter Junior High School,” said Potter Coach Vickie Knox.

Two public schools – Potter and Vallecitos Elementary School (which is a K-8 school) – feed into Fallbrook High School. “The cross country at the high school tends to struggle quite a bit because they do not have a feeder program,” Knox said.

Fallbrook High School has a significant reliance on former Sullivan Middle School runners who attend Fallbrook instead of Bonsall High School.

Knox ran cross country only and not track when she was a student at Fallbrook High School prior to her 1986 graduation.

Knox was an assistant coach at Fallbrook High in 2018 and became the head coach in 2019 after Hamlin retired. She coached the Warriors for two seasons.

Knox turned 55 in June and is now a grandmother, but she continues to run marathons and other distance races. Frank Talvarez, who has experience with the Boys and Girls Club of North County, is now Potter’s athletic director. Knox and Talvarez discussed the possibility of a Potter cross country team.

The team is under the auspices of the Boys and Girls Club of North County. The Fallbrook Union Elementary School District does not provide funding for the Potter cross country program.

“We were not sure how many people we were going to end up with,” Knox said. “We ended up with 19.”

The Big Ten Middle School League allows sixth graders from feeder schools if a middle school or junior high school begins in seventh grade, which is the case with Potter. “We will be contacting the elementary schools,” Knox said.

Cross country team scores add the positions of a school’s first five finishers (the sixth and seventh runners are not scored but can add points to other teams’ totals). A school does not receive a team score or a position if fewer than five runners finish.

The Big Ten Middle School League actually consists of 11 schools. Six of those are in Oceanside and four are in Vista. Valley Middle School in Carlsbad is not in the league but participated in the Sept 14 meet.

Improvement over the season can’t be measured solely by finishing time, since the distance of the courses will increase as the season progresses. The Potter course will be 1.75 miles. The Martin Luther King course Sept. 14 was 1.5 miles, and the Lincoln course Sept. 21 was 1.6 miles.

Martin Luther King won three of the Sept, 14 team races with Potter’s first place showing in the eighth-grade girls race being the exception. Potter had 19 team points in that race and Martin Luther King had 38 points for second place.

Knox noted that other schools have more experienced runners. “My kids are brand new,” she said.

Josie Hoy of Valley Middle School completed the Sept. 14 eighth-grade girls race in 8:59.14 for the individual victory. Mochel finished second and had a time of 9:56.81. The third-place time of Martin Luther King’s Lillyann Delarosa-Vargas was 10:00.39. Maya Hernandez of Lincoln was fourth at 10:07.47. Lincoln’s Aubrie Johnson had the fifth-place time of 10:15.77.

Potter took the sixth through ninth finishing positions with times of 10:50.28 for Olivia Bonafanti, 10:55.52 for Belinda Juan, 11:14.02 for Maria Pablo Manuel, and 11:20.47 for Lilia Suarez. Six eighth-grade girls ran for Potter; Madyson Rodarte became the 17th finisher 12:32.59 after the race began.

“It’s just very exciting and cool to see,” Knox said of the team victory.

Martin Luther King had a team score of 25 points in the eighth-grade boys race. Potter accumulated 48 points. Vista Magnet and Lincoln each had 83 points to share third place.

Potter had six boys in the race with Jacob Canfield posting the third-place time of 8:25.43, Kai Iacuaniello taking sixth with an 8:48.70 performance, Eric Vu completing the course in 9:07.54 for 14th place, Olin Ramsay taking 18th place and finishing in 9:32.02, Joseph Mills having a time of 10:32.04 which was worth 24th place, and Noah Conseco earning 33rd place with a time of 10:59.31.

Potter’s seventh-grade boys totaled 118 points Sept. 14 for fifth place with Vista Magnet having the fourth-place score of 108 points. Diego Castaneda had the 16th-place time of 10:25.82; Jayden Delgadillo Mercado finished 28th and had a time of 11:43.46; Elmo Francisco Gaspar had the 44th-best time of 12:37.20; Nathan Garcia Delgadillo placed 50th with a time of 13:00.41, and Jayden Herandez had a time of 13:22.86 for 54th place.

The sixth grade and seventh grade girls race Sept. 14 had 61 finishers and both Potter girls were in the top half. A time of 12:16.53 gave Shai Cortez 17th place and Abigail Espinoza finished in 12:44.89 for 23rd place.

Potter’s eighth-grade girls had a team score of 21 points Sept. 21 with Lincoln having the second-place score of 39 points and Martin Luther King obtaining 64 points for third. Mochel had a winning time of 11:25.04 with Maya Hernandez taking second at 11:50.58.

“She dominated,” Knox said of Mochel’s win.

Hernandez finished just in front of Bonafanti, whose third-place time was 11:50.85. Juan crossed the finish line 12:35.27 after the start of the race to earn fourth place. Johnson was Lincoln’s second finisher and the fifth overall finisher after completing the race in 12:41.73. Fallbrook took sixth and seventh with Pablo Manuel posting a time of 13:05.47 and Suarez finishing in 13:10.60. Rodarte finished 14th and had a time of 14:25.30.

Martin Luther King also won the other three divisions Sept. 21. The Lions had 27 points for the eighth-grade boys race. Potter took second once again, this time with 50 points. Vista Magnet had the third-place total of 79 points.

Canfield had a time of 9:50.64 for third place among individuals; Iacuaniello placed fourth with a time of 9:56.32; Vu had the 15th-place time of 10:50.59; Ramsay posted a time of 10:53.26 for 16th place; Mills finished 34th and had a time of 12:34.63, and Conseco crossed the finish line in 35th place 12:40.61 after the start of the race.

Castaneda finished 10th in the sixth grade and seventh-grade boys race with a time of 11:55.98. Francisco Gaspar took 30th place and had a time of 13:59.99. Garcia Delgadillo had a 15:29.93 performance which was worth 48th place. Jayden Hernandez finished the race in 15:41.10 for 50th place.

Cortez obtained her second consecutive 17th-place finish Sept. 21 with a time of 14:07.70. Espinoza was 29th among sixth grade and seventh grade girls with a time of 15:08.09.

“This has been very exciting for me,” Knox said. “These kids have been doing fabulous.”


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