Jared Falcone — a junior at Clovis East High School — runs because he likes the pain.
“Knowing that I'm running fast in a workout tells me I can get faster,” he said. “The pain is actually what I thrive off of. Once I hit my goal time in a race, it just feels amazing.”
Falcone is a leader on a young Clovis East cross country team.
Freshmen and sophomores are well represented among the Top 5 runners for boys and girls. Upperclassmen round out the team, providing experience and leadership.
“The growth and development of our younger ones is huge, and our seniors and juniors have a lot to do with that,” said head coach Jim Farmer. “The future is bright if they keep working hard and compete like we know they can.”
Falcone emerged as a top runner in the Tri-River Athletic Conference last year and earned selection to the All-TRAC cross country team. He describes that honor as “amazing and wild.”
This season, Falcone has continued to show his strength. In October at the Asics Clovis Cross Country Invitational at Woodward Park, he knocked 45 seconds off his time from 2015. Falcone set a personal record at 15:57.7.
Running that 3.1-mile course in under 16 minutes is a major goal for boys, Farmer said.
Weeks of training starting in the summer — he did five to six miles a day — enabled him to make the big improvement.
Once school started, Falcone ran three mornings a week beginning at 5:15 a.m., rode his bike to school and ran again in team practices after classes.
“All of it helps,” he said.
Falcone would like to attend Cal Poly to study architecture or engineering and to compete as a runner.
With Falcone holding down No. 1 on the team, the rest of the Top 5 boys are junior Roberto Lopez (also an All-TRAC runner as a sophomore), freshman Enrique Gutierrez, sophomore Sebastian Medina and senior Eli Diaz.
Farmer said he can count on Diaz for important senior leadership.
“He not only leads by example but also verbally — getting us in order and on track. That's always a positive,” Farmer said.
On the girls team, seniors Katie Donovan and Courtney Gibson provide leadership.
“They know what we expect, and they know how to do it correctly. They get the others to fall in line,” Farmer said.
Freshman MacKenzie Madron has led Clovis East's girl runners this fall. At the Clovis Cross Country Invitational, she ran 19:06.2 — an excellent time, Farmer said — in her first race at Woodward Park.
“She's going to be very, very good one day,” Farmer said.
Rounding out the Top 5 girls are Chloe Schultz, Jadyn Pennington and Ashley Gardner — all freshmen — and junior Rebekah Clark.
As the Clovis East runners train and compete, they seek the excellence that Buchanan High School in the TRAC has achieved in cross country.
Buchanan's runners work “extremely hard” and are well coached, Farmer said. “They are the program you want to emulate,” he said. “We communicate a lot with them and ask their coaches a lot of questions.”
Farmer has been head coach since Clovis East opened in 1999. He ran cross country and track at Clovis West High School (Class of 1989) and competed in track at Fresno State.
Farmer, who teaches physical education at Clovis East, enjoys working with his runners. “The kids are great and work hard. They do everything we ask them to do,” he said.
He also enjoys coaching with his assistants — Dustin Marzolf, who teaches P.E. at Clovis East, and David Naranjo, a walk-on coach. Both Marzolf and Naranjo ran cross country and track at Fresno State.
Under Farmer's coaching, Clovis East has produced two past Central Section champions — Ashley Hoyt and Russell Pfaff.
Top runners from Clovis East will compete in the Central Section championships on Nov. 17 at Woodward Park.
Clovis East cross country roster
Jaylyn Areizaga, freshman
Rachelle Barrett, freshman
Kaylin Brown, sophomore
Jaime Choate, junior
Rebekah Clark, junior
Katie Donovan, senior
Ashley Gardner, freshman
Courtney Gibson, senior
Julie Her, sophomore
Nicolyn Lopez, sophomore
MacKenzie Madron, freshman
Zaiah Padilla, junior
Jadyn Pennington, freshman
Chloe Schultz, freshman
Alyssa Silvestri, junior
Rose Thor, freshman
Aaron Andrews, senior
Eli Diaz, senior
Eli Espinosa senior
Jared Falcone, junior
Rigo Gamez, junior
Enrique Gutierrez, freshman
Grant Hudiburgh, junior
Leonardo Kumschilie, senior
Vince Lam, junior
Roberto Lopez, junior
Chase Marquez, freshman
Javier Martinez, freshman
Sebastian Medina, sophomore
Pablo Perez, junior
Jorge Toscano, freshman
Cameron Van Zant, freshman
Rex Vang, senior
Joel Vogt, freshman