ANGELS CAMP -- For most high school cross country runners, the Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section Meet is little more than a seeding race for the following week's section championships.
They get a good workout in. They size up their competition. And they get to run at a pretty hilly course at Frogtown, the Calaveras County Fairgrounds.
But when Davis junior Roberto Rosas saw the finish line, he had to win.
Rosas outkicked Napa junior Kurt Ruegg to the line, crossing first in 15 minutes, 49 seconds to win the Division I boys race Saturday afternoon at Frogtown. Ruegg was one second behind Rosas.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Merced Sun-Star
Rosas led a host of locals to advance to next week's section championships in Folsom. Three other Stanislaus District runners -- all boys -- also won divisional races.
Sonora senior John Glick rolled to victory in the Division III race in 16:28, helping push the Wildcats to a second-place team finish.
Bret Harte junior Matt Airola was dominant in the Division IV race, winning in 16:56. He was well ahead of the runner-up, teammate Derek Avrit (17:11).
Big Valley Christian sophomore Nathan Jackson cruised to victory in the Division V race in 17:12.
Rosas was out for a nice Saturday run.
"You want to keep your pace, just keep running," he said. "This race is always slower than sections because everybody's out here doing the same thing."
But as he and Ruegg finished their race, both took off in a sprint for the finish line.
"I started thinking, 'It's right there, I might as well take it,' " he said. "It's nice, but I'm concentrating on next week."
So is everybody else.
"People are going to be running a lot faster next week," Rosas said.
Glick was a surprise champ in the Division III race.
"I came in thinking I'd probably finish 15th or so," he said. "But I like this course. I like the hills."
And with about 200 yards left, Glick was still in the lead. He finished strong in a career-best time.
"I kept expecting something to happen, but it never did," Glick said. "All of a sudden, I realized I had a shot (at winning)."
Just as surprised was Sonora junior Lizzie Grolle, who finished second in the girls race.
"I'm pretty comfortable with this course," she said. "But I still surprised myself with my finish."
Her time of 19:45 was a career-best by a large margin.
Big Valley Christian's Jackson was running for the first time in nearly three weeks. He suffered an inflamed tendon in his knee and had to take some time off. He ran Saturday with a knee brace, but it didn't seem to affect his time.
"I felt pretty strong on the hills," he said. "I was able to attack them and make some passes."
The Division V race was run at the same time as the Division IV race, so while Jackson dominated the Division V field, he was third in the overall race.
Jackson was hoping to qualify for the section race, but he also wanted to show the Division IV field what he's got.
"It's kind of in-between," Jackson said. "I guess I was here for both reasons."
Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.