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Postponement of cross country finals a 'minor inconvenience' for local teams

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The postponement of the Sac-Joaquin Section cross country championships from last Saturday to this Saturday due to poor air quality because of the fires is an inconvenience, but likely nothing more, according to local coaches.

While all the runners would have rather had the event held when it was originally scheduled, there’s not much that can be done about it.

“It’s a minor inconvenience to us, but others lost their homes,” Folsom coach Steve Kinoshita said. “The kids are still motivated. Hopefully, it will help Mariam (Samara), as she now has another week to get healthy and feel better, as well as to train, as she missed a lot of training with her injury.”

Oak Ridge assistant coach Rob Fairley said the runners took it well.

“It was obviously anti-climatic, as everyone was excited for the race,” Fairley said. “We have a really good group of kids, and their attitude is ‘we just have to deal with it.’ Everyone is in the same boat. We will just have a few more practices, and hopefully everyone is healthy and ready to go on Saturday.”

Vista coach Robert Grove said the extra week will probably help his team, as some of his runners are coming off injuries.

“Obviously, they made the decision with the safety of the kids in mind in terms of the air quality,” Grove said. “I think it helps us, as we have a few more days to get healthy. It’s not ideal because we spent all week preparing to race, but we’ll be fine and be ready to race next Saturday.”

Grove is hoping the weather is better this week.

“I hope the Section has a plan B, because I don’t know how much better the air quality is going to be next week,” Grove said on Saturday.

Added Fairley, “There are no more Saturdays before the state championships, so we have to run it somewhere.”

The postponement affects Folsom’s team in another way. One varsity runner on the boys’ team will not be available to run on Saturday because of a previous commitment. Kinoshita brought up a sophomore to replace the athlete on the varsity team, but he feels the team should still do OK.

The other issue of the postponement is that now the state meet is the following week and the normal two-week break before the state championships is now gone.

“I’ve always felt it was good for our team to have a good workout the week before the state meet,” Grove said. “The kids get into a rhythm of racing once a week, so it will be interesting to see how we respond. I think we’ll be OK.”

Kinoshita added, “All we can do is continue to train and prepare, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Fairley said there are pluses and minuses to having a week in between the two races.

“The plus to not having a week off in between is that the athletes keep a competitive edge,” Fairley said. “If you’re in shape and healthy, recovering and being ready to run a week after a hard 5K is not difficult. Where it could hurt you are the teams that run on a more challenging section course like ours. Our course is hilly and takes a little bit longer to recover from running there then it does on some flatter courses. There is no holding back at the section meet; you have to go all out.

“Also, if you have a younger team like ours; it usually takes them a bit longer to recover than an older, more experienced team. Some of the younger runners aren’t used to the rigors of running a challenging 5K course in consecutive weeks.”

As of press time, the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships are scheduled to be run Saturday at the Willow Hills course in Folsom. The CIF State Championships are scheduled for Nov. 24 at Woodward Park in Fresno.