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Amador Ayon, McFarland girls cross country coach

Five years ago, when Amador Ayon took over as the McFarland girls cross country coach, he had only six girls on the team.

This year he started out with 43 girls and finished with 31.

The Cougars have steadily increased in not only quantity but also in quality under Ayon's guidance over the past half-decade.

"Every year we seem to get a little bit better," Ayon said. "That's always a goal."

This season Amador, the BVarsity Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year, led McFarland to a fifth straight Central Section championship and a 16th-place finish in Division III at the state meet.

"I walked away happy that day because that was the best that we've ever ran at a state meet," Ayon said. "Obviously we weren't in the division that we needed to be. ...I had goals for us to be in the top 10, and we weren't. But we were 16th, and we were competitive until two and a quarter miles and then we ran out of gas a little bit."

Earlier in the year at the Clovis Invitational, the Cougars set a record for the fastest girls team-time ever (98:25) by a Kern County school on the state course at Woodward Park.

"It was good working with girls that really wanted to better and put in the time to be successful," Ayon said. "We push, obviously, the athletic aspect of it but moreso the academic part. And this year our group ended up with a cumulative GPA of 3.75 for my seven girls on the varsity. I was really happy about that."