WASCO – Abraham Gonzalez was on the field at Sam Tobias Field 11 months ago when the Garces Memorial boys soccer team lost a heartbreaker to Corona-Santiago in the CIF State Southern California Regional Championships last March.
Flash forward to Thursday afternoon at Wasco High School, Gonzalez helped lead the Rams cross country team during an historic day as the dual meet against the Tigers became the first school athletic event since the Covid-19 pandemic began last spring.
“It’s one of the highlights of my senior year,” Gonzalez said. “Just to be out here representing Garces as a school, it feels pretty nice.”
Gonzalez led four Garces boys runners with a second-place finish in a time of 12 minutes, 27.72 seconds in the 2.1-mile course around Wasco High that allowed for social distancing and a spot off campus for parents and spectators to cheer on the runners from a safe distance.
Gonzalez edged out Wasco’s Jesus Salgado by .47 of a second in a mad dash to the finish line.
“A total senior moment for (Gonzalez),” Garces head coach Susan Walker said. “He stepped up. He’s a great leader for the team.”
Along with Wasco, Garces is one of just three schools in Kern County that are competing in cross country, the lone Season 1 sport allowed in the purple tier set by the California state health department. For Walker, having a meet like this with a local team and former league rival for the Rams, was a big moment in getting back some normalcy for the student-athletes.
“Wasco did a great job of hosting,” Walker said. “It was a super safe environment for the kids to be in and nobody felt like anyone was on top of each other. It also allowed our parents to cheer on the kids. It was a great experience.”
On the girls side, it was a pair of freshmen leading the way for Garces.
Davin Cheshire led the way for Garces with a sixth place finish in 16:43 and Lexi Verdin finished ninth in 16:43.
“It was exciting,” Gonzalez said. “To be able to compete against another school, it was just fun.”
2nd place: Abraham Gonzalez, 12:27; 7th: Michael Garcia, 13:41; 8th: Nixon Rebuck, 14:14; 9th: John Gutierrez, 14:16
6th: Davin Cheshire, 16:13; 9th: Lexi Verdin, 16:43; 13: Sophia Elturk, 16:58; 14: Allison Barker, 17:08; 16: Claudia Chipres, 17:37; 17: Lindsay Magar, 17:50