Clovis East and Clovis West runners have raced the trails of Woodward Park countless times in training and competition over the years.
Without section or state championships coursing through the park’s hills this season, any chance the student-athletes get to run the famed course is a welcome one. They got that in Friday afternoon’s dual cross country meet between the Timberwolves and Golden Eagles.
“I really love running at Woodward Park,” said Clovis East freshman Jazlin Diehl, “especially with my teammates and especially having an actual race here.”
“It’s just getting the same thing done over and over [at Woodward],” said Clovis West sophomore Nate Nodal. “You practice over and over to get better and better.”
Nodal’s practice paid off Friday when he took 1st place in the boys’ race, running a time of 9:35. He put together a strong push in the final 25 meters and finished a few steps ahead of junior teammate Collin Galaviz. Nodal and Galaviz went 1-2, followed by Timberwolves’ freshman Carter Spradling taking 3rd place.
Clovis West swept 4th through 9th place to take control of its race and defeat the Timberwolves, 18 to 52. Clovis East freshman Nash Higby rounded out the boys’ top 10.
West head coach Rich Parris pointed to two freshman on the Golden Eagles, Sam Dresick and Jacob Rodriguez, as big reasons for his team’s near-sweep through the top 10. Dresick and Rodriguez finished 7th and 8th respectively.
“They are coming into high school the top two 8th graders at Kastner,” Parris said. “They continued to push the older guys in front of them. The older guys are always looking behind them for these two.”
The Clovis West boys ran with “a team mindset” according to Parris, and it was summed up well by Clovis West senior Ethan Pricolo, who finished 9th.
“We’re connected even though we are apart,” Pricolo said. “We push each other even when we’re not by each other.”
Clovis West won the girls’ race by a slim margin in team points, 28 to 29, despite Clovis East taking the top two spots.
Diehl took 1st place with a time of 11:42, followed three seconds later by junior Ariana Womack.
In the first race win of her high school career, Diehl was impressed with how far she’s come over the past year.
“Last year, it wasn’t that great for me. I had an iron deficiency, but this year, it’s been really good. I feel like I’ve improved a lot since last year,” Diehl said.
“The iron deficiency thing was just a speed bump for her… once they got it figured out, she bounced back really good and I think that she’s just a beast,” said Clovis East head coach Jim Farmer. “She came back stronger than ever and that’s a tribute to her hard work.”
Clovis West took six of the next seven finishes after the Clovis East duo at the top. Kalei Aoki-Chance and Molly Bizik placed 3rd and 4th, respectively, and Timberwolves’ sophomore Ayane Isleta finished 5th.
The next Clovis East runner to finish after Isleta was Izell Madrigal in 10th place.
Clovis West has won both of its dual meets this season, defeating Clovis High in the boys and girls’ race as well on Feb. 6.