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Calexico High’s girls cross-country team gets started at the Southwest Invitational at Sunbeam Lake near Seeley on Saturday, Sept. 4. The Bulldogs took third as a team behind Imperial and Central Union. | CATHI PHILLIPS LARIOS PHOTO

CROSS COUNTRY: Jimenez, Gallegos Lead Bulldogs

Season Kicks Off with Southwest Invitational; Calexico Takes Team Third in Contested Junior/Senior Girls

SEELEY — The high school cross-country season kicked off on a muggy Saturday morning, Sept. 4, with the Southwest Invitational at Sunbeam Lake near Seeley.

The event featured four races over the 3.1-mile course with competition in the freshman/sophomore boys division, freshman/sophomore girls, junior/senior boys and junior/senior girls.

Calexico High sophomore Luis Jimenez delivered the best finish for the Bulldogs with a second place in the freshman/sophomore boys race. Jimenez finished with a time of 20 minutes, 09.97 seconds, nine seconds behind race winner Jiovani Martin of Central Union High, who posted a time of 20 minutes, 00.84 seconds.

Calexico High senior Briana Gallegos crosses the finish line in fourth place at the Southwest Invitational junior/senior girls race at Sunbeam Lake near Seeley on Saturday, Sept. 4. | CATHI PHILLIPS LARIOS PHOTO

The most-contested team race of the morning was in the junior/senior girls race, where all four teams fielded a full slate of runners. Imperial won the race with a score of 34, followed by Central Union (58), Calexico (59) and Southwest (64).

“This was the first meet of the season, just to kind of test the waters and see where we are at,” said Luis Rodriguez, Calexico’s girls cross-country coach. “I was happy with the results, and you can see some of the girls are starting to get the muscle memory back.”

Winning the junior/senior girls race was Southwest senior Sidney Garcia with a time of 21 minutes, 00.28 seconds. She was followed by Central senior Azucena Hernandez (21:28.01) in second, Imperial senior Natalie Lopez (21:52.43) in third and Calexico senior Briana Gallegos (21:58.48) in fourth place.

“I didn’t think I was going to do very well because I hadn’t been running a lot lately,” Gallegos said. “But I didn’t want to let the team down, so I went out and gave everything I could.”

The junior/senior boys race was won by Imperial junior Daniel Ortega with a time of 18 minutes, 05.00 seconds. He was followed by Southwest junior Steven Gomez (18:17.29), Brawley junior Archie Olvera (18:47.65), Central junior Daniel Zavala (19:22.51) and Central senior Hector Lopez (19:26.44).

Calexico’s runners will be heading to San Diego on Friday, Sept. 10, to run in the Ian Cumming/Tim Latham Invitational slated for 2 p.m. at Rohr Park.

Freshman/sophomore girls:

Jayden Cornejo, freshman, Brawley, 24:38.77

Arely Ortega, sophomore, Imperial, 24:57.53

Jocelyn Olague, sophomore, Central, 26:26.38

Emily Perez, freshman, Central, 27:23.65

Alyssa Flores, freshman, Imperial, 28:03.48

Freshman/sophomore boys:

Jiovani Martin, sophomore, Central, 20:00.84

Luis Jiminez, sophomore, Calexico, 20:09.97

Jaden Martin, sophomore, Central, 20:21.56

Israel Vargas, sophomore, Imperial, 21:27.86

Cade Alaniz, sophomore, Palo Verde, 21:39.46

Junior/senior girls

Sidney Garcia, senior, Southwest, 21:00.28

Azucena Hernandez, senior, Central, 21:28.01

Natalie Lopez, senior, Imperial, 21:52.43

Briana Gallegos, senior, Calexico, 21:58.48

Angelique Graham, junior, Imperial, 22:31.30

Junior/senior boys

Daniel Ortega, junior, Imperial, 18:05.00

Steven Gomez, junior, Southwest, 18:17.29

Archie Olvera, junior, Brawley, 18:47.65

Daniel Zavala, junior, Central, 19:22.51

Hector Lopez, senior, Central, 19:26.44

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