WEST VALLEY - Mid-Valley League cross country competition got underway Thursday afternoon. And, based on the opening meet of the season, it appears that Brenden Scott and Mercedes Martinez are going to be the catalysts for this year's Sunnyside High School boys and girls squads.
Scott turned in a strong effort yesterday at the four-school conference opener, staged in West Valley. The Sunnyside senior claimed runner-up honors in the boys race, finishing second only to Prosser's Nectaly Barbosa. The Mustang long distance runner clipped Scott by just eight seconds. Scott finished a full 15 seconds ahead of the next finisher-Hanford's Peter Littlefield.
Martinez earned a "Top 10" finish against Prosser, Hanford and West Valley in the girls race. She placed sixth with a clocking of 24:04. To Martinez's credit, no runner from Prosser or Hanford finished ahead of her, as West Valley swept the first five placings. Three of the Rams posted winning times of 22:03.
Team-wise, the Lady Grizzly harriers were beaten by all three of their opponents. West Valley prevailed by a 15-44 score over Sunnyside, and Hanford and Prosser bested the Lady Grizzlies by scores of 20-42 and 23-35, respectively.
After Martinez crossed the finish line in sixth place, 12 competitors ended their runs before another Sunnyside racer hit the finish line. Placing 19th for the Sunnyside girls was Daniela Rivera, who set a time of 26:13. Following her in were teammates Christina Fuller, 31st in 31:31; Veronica Almeida, 32nd in 31:31; Angie Fernandez, 37th in 34:59; and Andrea Benitez, 38th in 35:20.
The Sunnyside boys squad managed one victory in the team standings yesterday. The Grizzly runners defeated Prosser, 26-30. Against West Valley and Hanford, the Sunnyside boys were beaten by identical 20-43 scores.
Barbosa and Scott were the class of the field Thursday. The Prosser runner clocked a 17:21, with Scott on his heels in a time of 17:29. Hanford's Littlefield and Will Crowley were a distant third and fourth in times of 17:44 and 17:54, respectively. West Valley's top finisher was Richie Williams, fifth with a clocking of 17:59.
Sunnyside's Cipriano Meraz was the second finisher for the Grizzly boys team. Meraz recorded a clocking of 19:34 to earn 18th place individual honors. Sterling Scott finished in 28th place in a time of 20:15. Also competing for the Grizzlies were Joel Gaspar, 35th in 20:39; Gregg Burbidge, 60th in 22:57; Mathew Santoy, 71st in 24:28; and Dane Schmick, 80th in 26:08.
In the boys JV race, Sunnyside's Hugo Garcia had the top finish for the Grizzlies. He clocked a 22:52 to place 33rd. Also competing for the Sunnyside JV boys was Lance Warner (32:36).