High School Notes: Area's top runners gear up for Sierra Invitational

Riverbank High's German Fernandez, who was second at the CIF Cross Country Division IV Championships a year ago, is among the featured runners at Saturday's Sierra Invitational.

The meet is at Legion Park in south Modesto and begins with frosh-soph races at 9 a.m. and 9:30. The boys' varsity race is at 10 and the girls' varsity is 10:35.

There are 31 schools in the Sierra meet, the Stanislaus District's top regular-season event. Sophomores run two miles and varsity runners will go five kilometers (3.1 miles).

Fernandez, The Bee's Runner of the Year as a junior, won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title before finishing No. 2 in his state race behind Chad Hall of Big Bear Lake -- who had the top time, regardless of the division.

He'll be challenged by Modesto's Matt Maldonado, the section 1,600-meter champ last spring, and Bret Harte's Travis Airola, who finished fourth in the section Division IV race a year ago.

The girls' race features Beyer's Crystal Esparza, who was fifth in the section Division I race last year and began this season with a victory at the Delta King Invitational. She could be challenged by Modesto's Katie Drueen, who ran in the state meet as a junior, and Bret Harte's Sara Mikesell.

SONORA SOCCER TOURNEY -- Livingston, a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV finalist a year ago, and Valley Oak League rivals Oakdale and Sonora lead an eight-team field into this weekend's Yosemite Cup boys soccer tournament. Friday's openers are at Columbia College and Sonora High. The final rounds are Saturday, including the 4 p.m. final on Sonora's artificial turf.

Oakdale and Livingston could meet in a semifinal, while Sonora's big threat in its bracket is Mariposa, which returns 12 of its top 13 players from last year.

RC SOCCER TOURNEY -- It will be a busy day of soccer, with eight teams playing 12 games in seven hours. Ripon, a Trans-Valley League contender, is among the top teams in the Ripon Christian field.

The championship and fifth-place matches are at 3 p.m., following the third- and seventh-place matches that start at 1:45.

GV VOLLEYBALL THIRD -- Golden Valley's cross-country trip to Orlando, Fla., for the KSA Invitational resulted in a third-place finish and a week's worth of intense competition for the Cougars. GV went 4-0 in its bracket, but then lost in three games to Orange of Lutheran and lost a five-game match to Lake Brantley of Orlando.

The highlights included:

Gianna Bandoni collected 17 kills, six blocks, seven digs and three aces in a five-game victory over Brandon, Fla.

Courtney Vykhuizen had 34 assists against Lake Brantley, 11 vs. Orange Lutheran, 34 against Lake Brantley and a career-high 39 in a victory over Brandon.