May 22, 2011

Cross country stars shine in off-road race

By Doug Hawley
Daily Citizen Correspondent

— Two highly decorated area high school runners earned the top awards in the second Grizzly Trail Run 5K on Saturday morning at Dalton’s Raisin Woods.

Isaac Pacheco, a 16-year-old sophomore at North Murray High, covered the challenging 3.1-mile trail in 18 minutes and 18.8 seconds to pace some 150 participants. Carina Nieto, a 17-year-old Dalton High senior who’s set to graduate on Friday, repeated as female champion with a time of 21:30.5. Both were members of The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Cross Country Team the past two seasons, with Nieto the Girls Runner of the Year in 2009.

Defending overall champion Manuel Ferrer, 39 and of Dalton, claimed the runner-up spot behind Pacheco in 18:42. Freddy Castillo, 19 and of Dalton, took third in 19:16.

“I took the lead for good (from Ferrer) about 1.2 miles into the race,” Pacheco said. “It’s a pretty tough course. There are lots of hills. Lately I’d been averaging in the 16:50s in road races, but this is more difficult to maintain your time.”

Nieto was well in front among the female participants Saturday. Second-place overall female honors went to Ashley Sweeney, a 12-year-old Rocky Face resident who finished in 26:18.

“It was a very solid run, though I didn’t think that I was pushing myself,” Nieto said. “I managed to lead all the way. I only ran 12 miles all week. I feel good to have won.”

Mike Sweeney, a 45-year-old Daltonian, captured male masters (40 and older) honors in 20:40.3.

“This is my favorite 5K course,” Sweeney gushed. “I just love it. Granted, I’m more of a longer distance runner.”

Lyn Douglas, 40 and of Dalton, captured the female masters title in 28:46.5.

“I’m shocked that I won,” she said. “Back in the fall, I used to run this course once a week. For the past month, I’ve been doing the same thing.”

Participants found a slightly longer course than last year’s inaugural race, which meant slower times for many people.

“It was between one-tenth and two-tenths of a mile longer,” race director Mike Ross said. “I measured the course four times in order to get as close as we could get to a 5K, which it is. We were pleased to have a few more people than last year. It went well, though I understand that one or two fell.

“(The funds raised by the race) went for a good cause.”

Proceeds aided Cross Plains Community Partners.

Carpet Capital Running Club coordinated the event, with Rick Little directing the finish line and Joe Gleaton in charge of results.

Complete results available at