Ben Saldana had high hopes for the 2014 varsity boys cross country campaign.
The senior standout suffered a right leg injury during the preseason and just returned to Central Valley High School’s lineup.
“It was hurting for quite a while,” Saldana said. “This was basically my first big race. I haven’t run in so long.”
Ben placed second overall during the Hawks’ 19-39 loss to the crosstown-rival Bulldogs on Wednesday at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.
Saldana (19:10) was edged out by Ceres High’s Christian Linarez (19:10) on the three-mile course.
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Saldana said. “I just went out and run. I was on his hip the whole time. It was back and forth. I gave it my all. I performed my best. I’m not in terrible shape. I just need to get in better shape.”
Saldana was sidelined for a month and a half with a calf strain.
“It’s disappointing I got injured,” Saldana said. “I’ve been going to practices and some of the meets. I help motivate the team.”
Ben made his 2014 Western Athletic Conference regular-season dual-meet debut with the Hawks on Oct. 15.
Saldana placed third in Central Valley’s 22-40 loss at Los Banos.
Saldana was selected to the WAC First Team as a junior.
He placed sixth (18:08) at the conference finals. The 2013 league championships were staged in Ceres.
Ben took 53rd (18:14) at the Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section Division-III competition in Angels Camp.