NCS cross country: Piner’s Luna, Casa’s Moffett lead the way


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A pair of winners — Luis Luna from Piner and Ashley Moffett of Casa Grande — led a string of strong performances by Empire runners at the North Coast Section cross country championships in Hayward on Saturday.

The Petaluma and Piner boys were the only teams to move on to next week’s California high school championships, but a handful of squads narrowly missed qualifying.

“Our area was well represented,” said Casa Grande coach Carl Triola. “A lot of our teams are fairly young so we should be even better next year. It’s a good experience.”\

With rain on and off throughout the meet, times were slower. But the Empire’s top runners fared well.

Luna won the Division III race just ahead of Forrest Shaffer, from Petaluma. Luna led wire to wire, and good starts are something he’s been working on, Luna said going into the meet.

“I’ve been working on my start more to get out sooner. It is paying off now,” Luna said.

Luna’s time was the best of the five races on the day. In a very competitive division, Petaluma placed four boys in the top 12, claiming the Trojans’ fourth NCS title in five years.

“They pulled it off. That was real exciting,” said Petaluma coach Jim Lynch.

Moffett’s title in Division II was impressive as she only started running cross country this season.

“I’ve been doing a lot better than I thought I would,” she said.

The win came despite Moffett taking a wrong turn and having to retake the lead from eventual second-place finisher Elizabeth Hebel of San Ramon Valley.

“I had to work a lot harder,” she said. “Once I saw that I could catch her, I just went for it.”

The top girls’ time by an Empire runner Saturday was turned in by Lauren Kraus. The Maria Carrillo runner placed third in Division III.

Among other top area runners, Nicole Lane of El Molino was second in Division IV, and Paul Holden, from Ukiah, took second in Division II.