COTTONWOOD — Chico High cross country runners and twin sisters Iresh and Della Molina have run side by side nearly their entire senior year. The seniors did not begin running competitively until their freshman year, and despite being extremely competitive, both acknowledged they often take having a set running partner for granted.
The two have learned that Iresh is a strong starter and maintaining her pace, but Della has a strong kick to finish her races strong.
“It’s amazing and we would not be near as fast without each other,” Iresh Molina said Wednesday. “I had to run a couple of track races without her and it was significantly more difficult because I was like ‘What do I do? I don’t know how fast to run or where to go?’”
Girls from across the Northern Section trekked through a 3-mile course filled with muddy hills Wednesday at West Valley High School in Cottonwood. The Panthers, who are ranked No. 8 in California, claimed the one Northern Section spot in the 2021 CIF State Cross Country Championships that will take place Nov. 27 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
The Molina twins began the fall season by running the 2.1 Chico High time trial race and finishing first and second, with Iresh Molina finishing first. In the Eastern Athletic League meet on Nov. 4, Della Molina defeated her sister by three seconds. Six days later Iresh Molina defeated Della by 1.43 seconds on Wednesday in the CIF Northern Section Finals race at West Valley High School. Iresh Molina finished in 18 minute and 44.97 seconds and Della Molina finished in 18:46.40.
The Molina twins led Chico High to a first-place team finish and will now head to the state championship to race once more together.
“It is really special because we keep going back and forth between Della first, then I’m first, and then for sections Della won so it was kind of cool that we both traded,” Iresh Molina said. “In this one I won league.”
There were nine schools who ran with complete teams, which are required to have six runners competing. Iresh Molina and Della Molina led the Panthers to a first place finish, followed by Pleasant Valley in second place, Las Plumas in third, University Prep in fourth place, Orland fifth, Sutter sixth, Fall River seventh, Red Bluff eighth and Colusa finished ninth.
Chico High finished with a team score of 30, leading the second place PV who finished with 105 points. After the Molina sisters, Chico High’s Una Griffith finished fifth, Dot Clemente finished 12th, Tori Mackay finished 15th, Eleace Kincaid finished 24th in the 97 person race.
The second-place team PV was led by a fourth place finish by Chloe Alchin who finished in 19:40.51, Henley Roy finished 41st, Nikalette Fashing 42nd, Ali Lugo in 49th, Grace Montgomery 51st and Sofia Perez 55th.
Della Molina discussed her thoughts on PV and Chico competing first and second in the Northern Section nearly all year long.
“I think it’s awesome because it’s like they’re our rivals, but when you think about it it’s like really a proud thing for the schools from our town be so good,” Della Molina said.
Orland’s Paris Esther, a freshman, began the season competing in junior varsity races but finished seventh in the varsity race Wednesday. Madalyn Robertson, the top finisher for Las Plumas, finished in 11th place. Orland’s Cameron Phillips finished 25th.
The full results can be found by visiting https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/Results/Meet.aspx?Meet=193209&show=all.