FOLSOM — In the back of her mind, Hughson High's Becky Hobby could hear Huskies cross country coach Joel Bernard telling her, as he always does, to pace herself.
Upon realizing that the leaders, herself included, in Saturday's CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 meet were headed in the wrong direction, the idea of pacing herself immediately went out the window.
"I guess there was supposed to be a stream of flags set up across the way to mark the course, but they weren't up, so the top five girls ended up going the wrong way," said Hobby. "We probably wasted about 15 seconds. One of the coaches yelled at us, 'hey, guys, come back, you're going the wrong way!' .
"There must have been 15 to 20 girls all going in the wrong direction. When you make a wrong turn, and you see all these people running by you, you're like like, 'um, Plan B.' "
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That plan called for Hobby to turn on the jets, which she did, just in time pull out a second-place finish at Willow Hill Reservoir that secured the sophomore a berth in the State Meet on Nov. 28 at Fresno's Woodward Park.
Stanislaus District runners who will be joining Hobby in Fresno in two weeks include:
Davis High's Maryssa McDuffy, who finished third in D1.
Davis' Roberto Rosas, who placed sixth in D1.
Alejandro Garcia of Ceres, who placed second in D3.
Nicholas Klein of Sonora, was third in D3.
Bret Harte's Matt Airola and Derek Avrit, who finished 1-2 in D4.
Escalon's Matt "Fuzzy" Barnum, who was third in D4.
Riverbank's Alex Reyes, the fourth-place finisher in D4.
Kristen Turner of Summerville, who was third in D4.
Susan Zech of Calaveras, who placed fourth in D4.
Escalon's Pearl Rivers, who was fifth in D4.
Bret Harte's boys and girls teams, which won D4 titles.
D5 winner Nathan Jackson of Big Valley Christian.
Hobby overtook Summerville's Turner in the final 30 meters.
"It was like, 'okay, it's now or never,' so I gave it my all and passed her," said Hobby. "My coach said I must have been freaking out because I caught up really fast. I didn't think about it mentally, I just went."
Freshman McDuffy, champion of the Modesto Metro Conference, was ecstatic over her performance.
"It feels great being the only freshman from Modesto going to state," said McDuffy, 14. "I was right behind the leaders. They picked up the pace, and I just couldn't keep up with them."
Davis coach Rich Antal said McDuffy "ran a pretty tough race. She stuck with the leaders almost the whole way, and it came down to that last kick."
Antal has learned not to be surprised by anything McDuffy accomplishes this season.
"I was expecting her to be pretty good, but not to be as competitive as she has been," Antal said. "She has tenacity, doesn't want to quit and stays with it. If she's close, she can beat just about anybody."
McDuffy says she won't be satisfied with simply getting to state.
"I want to be in the top 10, that's my goal," she said.
Rosas fought off a sore throat and cold to finish sixth. The senior, who finished second in the D1 race last year, was disappointed with his performance.
"No, I wasn't happy at all," said Rosas. "I was outkicked, outran and outraced. It was just a bad day. I still made it to state, and everybody's telling me to be happy, but I feel like I should have done better.
"I'll redeem myself at state, that's the plan. I had a horrible showing today, but I'm gonna make it up, starting right now. I've got two weeks to get better and peak out, and I'm positive I can do that."
Davis' girls team just missed out on a state berth, finishing six points behind third-place Lodi. "They ran their hearts out and I'm really proud of the girls today," said Antal.
The day couldn't have gone better for Bret Harte, which will be well-represented at the State Meet.
"We're so excited," said Bullfrogs sophomore Kaylee Sedler. "We finished first at sub-sections, too, so Coach (Keith) Maurer said we're expected to win sections. We were like, come on, just do our best, let's show them that we are section champions. And now we are."
Said Maurer: "It was a very good day for us, all across the board, in every division. The kids just ran fantastic. Not one of them had a bad race."