Great Oak's Boys Answer Challenge At Clovis, Beat No. 1 Team

Great Oak's boys left no reason for anyone to doubt them on Saturday at the Clovis Invitational. 

The Wolfpack, ranked second nationally, dispatched No. 1 Newbury Park by eight points, 57-65, and saw five runners under 15:30 behind a remarkable 15-second spread. 

Once again, senior Chris Verdugo stepped up, leading Great Oak with an eighth-place performance -- it was his second straight week as the team's No. 1 -- at Woodward Park, finishing in 15:13.60, while the rest of the scoring five all finished in the top 20. 

All five members of the Wolfpack scored over 181 speed ratings on the 5K course, and once again the team raised its overall average, this time registering a 183.6. A week ago, the team went 182.2 at Great American and on Sept. 21 the team put down a 180.2 at Woodbridge. 

"We felt great,' senior Gabriel Abbes said. "We did catch a little bit of jet lag from the flight back. We did miss a couple days training. We knew we coming into this meet with the lower hand based on peak times, so to speak, so we were coming in with a humble mindset and we wanted to give it our all and it turned out to be a benefit for us." 

And in defeating Newbury Park -- which scored an individual win with senior Nico Young and a fourth-place finish by Jace Aschbrenner -- the Wolfpack did something else rarely done in recent memory. 

In back-to-back weeks, the team defeated the No. 3 (Loudoun Valley) and No. 1 (Newbury Park) teams in the country. 

"We're exactly where we want to be," Chris Verdugo said. "We feel like we're No. 1 and we're ready to prove it at NXN." 

Not to be outdone, the No. 5 Great Oak girls also took home the team title, outscoring No. 7 Buchanan by 35 points, 81-116, and out shined rising programs like St. Francis Sacramento (third) and Newbury Park (fourth). 

The Wolfpack secured its scoring five through 33 places, and its sixth and seventh through 34th and 41st place, respectively. 

Senior Tori Gaitan led the squad in 12th place, finishing in 17:50.50. 

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