SALINAS — Wastsonville cross country coach Alex Siqueiros was surprised.
Watsonville’s top finisher Fabiola Abonce was excited.
Regardless of the feeling, they knew that it had been a good day.
The Watsonville girl’s cross country team squeezed out a one-point team win over Gilroy in the first Monterey Bay League Pacific Center Meet of the year.
“It shows that we’ve improved and that we’re coming together as a team,” said Lizette Garcia, who finished 10th with a time of 23:26.
The Wildcatz girl’s team, who didn’t place first in a single meet last season, boasts its biggest team in years with a total of 18 runners on both varsity and junior varsity.
They had three girls place in the top 10 and another, Adriana Abonce, placed in the top 20 to put them in the top spot.
Garcia, a senior in her second year on the squad, was flanked by her two teammates Fabiola, a sophomore, and Beatriz Duarte, a junior.
Fabiola and Duarte finished seventh and ninth respectively. Fabiola clocked in at 22:27 and Duarte at 22:41.
“I think we did well,” said Siqueiros. “With our first mile we were a little slower than what we were looking at, but they stayed together well as a group and I think that was the plan.”
Fabiola, Duarte and Garcia kept in a pack and waited for the end of the race to make their move into the top 10.
Fabiola, who is in her first year on the team, then broke away from the three and sprinted towards the finish to end up in seventh. Her teammates weren’t far behind either.
“We have such a big team this year that it’s just benefiting them a lot,” said assistant coach Katie Moore. “It’s helping them become better runners.”
Duarte and Garcia agree and point to the closeness of the team and the practices compared to last season.
“We weren’t that close as a team,” said Garcia, “and the practices are different. It’s a lot of track workouts. Last year we did more tempo runs, and this year we’re doing a different workout everyday.”
Right in the mix with Watsonville was Monte Vista Christian’s top finisher Veronica Ward.
She split the Wildcatz’s group and ended up in eighth place with a time of 22:28. Just one second behind Fabiola.
To the delight of first-year head coach Jerry Reed ,the Mustangs had three more girls finish in the top 20. Samantha Watts (14th), Anna Moreno (16th) and Cinny Ma (17th).
“Deep inside, I’m really happy for them,” said Reed. “I was a little surprised, but then again I wasn’t. I knew that we have a good team and that we were going to do well, because we don’t miss practice.”
His boys couldn’t duplicate the same finish. They placed sixth.
Watsonville finished fourth and Pajaro Valley was fifth.
Pajaro Valley’s Zachary Davis finished with the top time of the three Watsonville teams at 18:55.
It was good enough for 10th place.
Anthony Ramirez of Watsonville was just behind him in 12th with a time of 19:13.
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