Mark Ogilvie knew this year's West High boys cross country team had a chance to be special, but he also knew the Vikings would have to perform the day of the Central Section championships in Fresno to cement that legacy.
"In cross country, you really have to peak at the end," said Ogilvie, the BVarsity Coach of the Year. "You can't do this hill and valley thing, or you'll never get your best race at the end of the year."
That's not to say West, despite an illness that affected No. 2 runner Tyler Moore for most of the year, didn't do fine in the regular season. The Vikings won the South Yosemite League out right, snapping Ridgeview's four-year streak of at least sharing the title, and they entered the Division III section final as a top challenger to favored Fresno-Roosevelt.
"I kind of gave them a pep talk the week before," Ogilvie said. "I told them it wasn't about the last race as much as it was the journey, the workouts and running in the heat together and all the friends and memories we made.
"Then they ran their butts off, and it happened for us."
West was led by Gustavo Delcastillo, who took second in the section race, but Ogilvie said it was a full team effort, with Moore making up 10 places in the final mile and No. 5 runner Chris Moreno edging Roosevelt's No. 5 at the finish line.
"It's real neat to bring it all together," Ogilvie said. "This is about the boys and how hard they worked."
Like Bakersfield's football team, the Vikings are raising money to buy championship rings. If you want to help, contact Ogilvie at firstname.lastname@example.org.