Aug 29

Cross country: Lodi’s Blake Fonda, Tokay’s Alec Hastings to clash in realigned Tri-City Athletic League

Lodi’s Fonda, Tokay’s Hastings to clash in realigned TCAL

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 12:00 am, By Mark Godi/News-Sentinel Staff Writer

Blake Fonda

Blake Fonda, left, of the Lodi Flames was sixth at last year’s San Joaquin Athletic Association cross country meet. Alec Hastings, right, of the Tokay Tigers was last year’s Tri-City Athletic League cross country champion. News-Sentinel file photograph (left); Mark Godi/News-Sentinel (right)

Blake Fonda and Alec Hastings are well aware of each other and will be even more so this fall. As the high school cross country season begins, both will be racing in the Lodi Flame Invitational at Lodi Lake at 5 p.m. Friday.  The girls go at 4:30 p.m. It will be the first time they meet this year, but not the last as league realignment has the rivals in the new Tri-City Athletic League.

Fonda, a senior, helped the Lodi Flames win a share of the San Joaquin Athletic Association last year behind standout Phillip Kruse. Kruse has graduated and now Fonda is the front runner for Lodi’s top boys spot. It’s natural then that he’s entered in a bit of a rivalry with Tokay’s Alec Hastings, the Tigers’ top boy. He led Tokay to an outright TCAL title while winning the individual championship.  Both have worked hard in the offseason and are eager to see who currently has the edge.  “We are friendly rivals and it’s like a chess match out there,” Fonda said. “He got me a few times last year and I got him a few times. He knows where I am out there and I know where he is.”

Friday’s race should be an exciting one between the two considering how last spring ended. Both did track and field then and had their last meeting in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet in Elk Grove. There, Fonda was 13th in the 1600 meter at 4 minutes, 28.67 seconds and Hastings 23rd at 4:40.03. Just a week earlier, it was Hastings who bested Fonda in the event at the Division I Section Championships. Hastings ran a 4.26.28, edging Fonda by just under a second.  Since then, both have had busy summers. Hastings went to a running camp at Stanford and ran between 60-65 miles per week. Fonda, meanwhile, says a shorter week was around 50 miles and a longer week closer to 70 in the summer.  Both would like to compete in college with Fonda eyeing Santa Barbara’s Westmont College, an NAIA program. Hastings has a bit more time to decide, but says Long Beach State is a place he really likes at the moment.  Both earn high praise from their cross country coaches, with Fonda a runner that Lodi’s Greg Wright says has grown up quite a bit.

“He’s really blossomed into a good work ethic and become a leader,” Wright said. “Two years ago and even a bit last year he could only see how the race affected himself. Now he sees the big picture and is thinking about how the others are coming along.”  Karen Harty is in her seventh year in charge at Tokay and describes Hastings as one that is fun to watch.  “You wouldn’t know it in practice but he’s a fireball when it comes to competition,” Harty said. “He just comes alive when he gets to that starting line.”  Neither runner will have it easy this year with the reigning SJAA champion returning to Lincoln.

Zach McKeever is a senior now and edged Kruse for the league crown last year. He’ll lead a formidable Trojan squad.  “It’s going to be harder to win (league) this year,” Hastings said. “The new leagues means faster schools.  “I’d say my biggest goal this year is to just make it to state and see how far I can go.”

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