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Young Aztecs still growing
Cross country squads learning on the job
BARSTOW • The Barstow cross country teams faced quite a challenge on Wednesday, hosting the strong harriers from Serrano in their final home meet of the season.
The Diamondbacks are a daunting team to go up against, and they lived up to their reputation, winning both the varsity and JV tilts. The varsity boys race was won, 15-46, and the girls race by a nearly identical score, 15-50. Serrano won the boys JV race, 17-64.
Aztecs head coach Mike Pitassi knew it would be a challenging meet. When Barstow took part in the High Desert Cross-League Clash last week, Serrano came in first among the eight teams competing. It wasn’t even close, as the Diamondbacks won the boys race by 32 points over the second-place finishers, and by 15 points in the girls race.
Considering he was going up against such a strong squad, and given how young his team is, Pitassi wasn’t expecting a win on Wednesday. There were other things he was looking to get out of the meet.
“They have a great program, we know that. We’re focusing on improving our individual times,” he said. “Today is not so much about beating them as it is us improving as a team. We’re young, and every meet is a learning experience.”
In the boys varsity race, the first five runners over the finish line were D-backs, led by Tyler Fabrizio, with a time of 19:45. First for Barstow was Geng-Wei Lee, who was sixth at 21:18, followed closely by Cristian Aguirre at 21:22. Alex Garcia was 10th at 22:25. Bryce Green was the only Aztec in the top 10 of the JV race, placing fourth with a time of 22:40.
For the varsity girls, Serrano had the top seven finishers, with Phillie Bacon first at 24:28. For Barstow, Maria Miranda’s time of 30:47 was good for first Lady Aztec and eighth place overall. She was followed by Tatyana Padilla (31:56) and Vanessa Miranda (35:13). There weren’t enough runners in the JV race for an official final score for the home team, but Breanna Lucero was sixth and Veronica Garnica seventh.
Given how young the Aztecs are - only one senior - and the fact that there are several athletes on the team running cross country for the first time, Pitassi had realistic expectations for this season. While he views it as a learning experience, he still knows a little winning can go a long way.
“I’m thinking long-term; when certain things happen, I envision next season. I’m still looking to win, but I’m also looking at the future,” said the coach. “Last week was a bit of a wake-up call, but morale is still good. The kids are still excited and pumped to get higher in the rankings.”
The coach wants those young, first-year runners to be back next year.
“I really want to get them to enjoy running,” Pitassi said of his team. “Some of them might like to run, but they’re here more as a social thing. That’s fine, but I also want them to get passionate about running.”
That won’t be difficult for some. Junior Cameron Bledsoe is in his first year with the squad, but has enjoyed running for a long time. He joined the track team as a freshman and did sprints, then last year ran long distance. This fall, it seemed only natural to join the Aztecs cross country team.
“I love it,” Bledsoe said after Wednesday’s meet. “This is a great team, we all get along. It’s like another family.”
The Aztecs have a bit of down time before their next meet, which is next Wednesday at Granite Hills.
“I just want to keep building from here,” said Pitassi. “It’s all about the little victories for us.”