Clarissa Morales was a three-sport athlete at Enochs High School in Modesto.
She starred on the soccer team and played basketball. But she was best at running middle distances, where she was a Sac-Joaquin Section finalist and placed second at the Modesto Metro Conference Championships in the 1,600-meter run as a senior.
After two steady seasons in cross country and track at Stanislaus State, Morales has raced her way to the front of the Warriors’ pack.
The junior liberal studies major posted back-to-back victories in the season’s first two meets, including Saturday night’s gritty performance at the Stan State Kim Duyst Cross Country Invitational.
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Under the lights at River Oaks Golf Course in Ceres, Morales clocked a career-best time 21 minutes, 12.6 seconds in the 6-kilometer race.
That time would have placed her fourth at the California Collegiate Athletic Association championships, held on the same course last October, alongside the elite runners from Chico State.
A week earlier at the NDNU Argonaut Invitational at the challenging Crystal Springs course south of San Mateo, Morales finished first in 22:26.9.
“Clarissa’s success is a product of months of hard work,” head coach Darren Holman said. “Distance running is a formula, distance over time.
“Clarissa, as well as the whole women’s team, has more miles on their legs than most, hence we are extremely fit (to start the season).”
Morales has impressed on a team full of depth in 2018. The Stan State women’s cross country team has won two events with stellar results.
In Belmont, the Warriors scored a perfect 15 with all seven runners scoring at the top of the standings. In Ceres, they scored 21 points.
Meanwhile, Turlock’s Isaac Gonzalez won the men’s race last Saturday night. The Modesto Junior College transfer finished the 8K in 25:24.7.
“We are extremely pleased with the early success, but this is what we expected,” Holman added.
Morales and the rest of the Warriors return to action Sept. 28, at the Capital Cross Challenge in Sacramento.
SOCCER OPENS CCAA SEASON — The men’s and women’s teams begin conference play this weekend after positive preseasons.
The Warriors will host doubleheaders against Cal State Dominguez Hills (Friday) and Cal State L.A. (Sunday) at Warrior Stadium. The men (3-1-0) are led by Weston Ranch High product Joseph Mayorca with two goals and an assist. The women (3-1-1) are guided by Manteca’s Ilena Rivera (East Union), who has three goals and Mayah Chambers (Modesto/Enochs HS), with two.
COACHES ADDED — Shannon Mauldin and Katelyn McDonald joined the coaching staffs of the women’s basketball and softball teams, respectively.
Mauldin replaces Rachel Finnegan, who is now the head coach at Modesto Junior College, as an assistant basketball coach. Mauldin was an all-West Coast Conference guard at St. Mary’s College and was an assistant at Diablo Valley College last season.
McDonald, a three-year standout on the Warriors’ softball team, was named the team’s assistant coach. The Arlington, Wash., native hit .290 with a .409 slugging percentage in three seasons and, last May, led Stan State to its first CCAA Championship tournament appearance since 2009.
Also, the men’s soccer coaching staff now includes assistants Damon Solomon and Tomas Zajfert and intern Rodriguo Marina.