FRESNO - Austin Garcia dropped to his knees and raised both of his hands to the sky as he crossed the finish line.

The Ridgeview senior, who moved to Bakersfield this summer from Hesperia, won the Central Section Division III boys cross country individual championship on Thursday at Woodward Parkin Fresno.

More importantly to Garcia, his teammate Bryan Gaxiola was right behind him in second place. On top of that, four more Wolf Pack runners finished in the top-9 as Ridgeview won the program’s first boys team title in school history and put a big exclamation point on a banner day for Kern County.

“It’s really emotional,” Garcia said. “It’s the first thing I have won, ever. This is the most exciting moment. When I came in (across the finish line), I thanked God for this. I am so happy for us.”

It was a historical day locally. The individual winners — Garcia, along with Stockdale junior Marcus Mota winning the D-I title, and Highland senior Moises Medrano winning the D-II title — marked the first time runners from Kern County swept the boys top-three individual titles.

“I feel proud of everyone who did it,” said Medrano, who repeated as the D-II section champion after winning the title last season. “Even the Ridgeview guys, I give them so much credit.

“There is so much pride for all of them and for all three of us.”

Ridgeview’s times were second overall at the section championships behind D-I champs Clovis-Buchanan. The Bears top-five finishers clocked in at 1:20.58 while the top-five Ridgeview runners finished in 1:21.51.

“It just shows how much they are believing in what we are doing and that they believe in themselves,” Ridgeview coach Adam Setzer said. “I am just so proud of them. I can’t describe it.”

Mota was the eager sophomore seeking section glory before falling just short in second place last season.

This time around, Mota was the favorite and he knew it.

Staying at the front of the pack for the first half of the D-I finals, Mota began to pull away and finished 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the field, winning the title in 15:30.51.

“This one? Man, it felt great,” Mota said. “It was hard, but after that mile-and-a-half mark, I was like, ‘Man, this is where training comes in' and it really helped me and helped push me throughout the race.”

As he crossed the finish line, a smile came across Mota’s face as he cruised in for the title. He became the first boys runner from Kern County to win a D-I individual title since former Stockdale and Oregon standout Blake Haney pulled it off in 2013.

“I thought at that point that they are going to come up. Maybe it was a bad decision,” Mota said. “But I stuck with my plan that I’m up front and might as well not lose the lead. I’m already here.”

Mota is just the third runner from Kern County since 2003 to win a D-I boys title. Chris Schwartz of Foothill won in 2007 and Haney also won the title in 2011.

Medrano, who signed with Cal on Wednesday, stayed with the pack for the first mile before breaking away, winning in a time of 15:35. That was 19 seconds ahead of Ivan Mendez of Porterville-Monache.

“It feels awesome,” Medrano said. “This year it was more about proving it to myself rather than a competition. I was just defending my title. It was more mental. I felt good as the race started and kept going.”

Medrano is the third county boys runner to repeat for a section title with Schwartz and Haney.

McFarland freshman Hilda Gonzalez helped lead the Cougars to a historic day for the program and the county.

After years as a powerhouse program at lower levels, McFarland had been pushed into D-I through the section’s competitive equity model. And, for the first time in school history, a McFarland cross country team advanced to state in D-I, as the girls team finished third overall behind Clovis-Buchanan and Clovis High.

Despite injuring her ankle during a P.E. class on Tuesday, Gonzalez finished fifth overall at 18:30. She led three Cougars in the top-20, with Dede Salcido in 14th place (19:15) and sophomore Brianna Valles in 20th (19:48).

“I told them, ‘Let’s make history today.' And we made history,” McFarland coach Amador Ayon said. “Do we always want to run faster? Yes, we do. Are we satisfied with today and the effort? We will take it. We made it and will enjoy it and go celebrate.”

The Foothill girls repeated as D-III champions, edging out Ridgeview 93-99. Sofia Garcia paced the Trojans with an 11th-place finish.

The Wonderful Prep girls won the Central Section Division V cross country championship. Veronica Ruiz led Wonderful with a seventh place finish in 22:15.

Other top local finishers were: Wasco's Sayra Raya (19:48, third in D-III girls), Frontier’s Andrew Swanson (16:18, third in D-III boys), and Liberty’s Nickie Sanchez (19:37, third D-III girls) all had top-5 finishes.

Central Section Cross Country Championships

At Woodward Park, Fresno

5K

Boys

Division I

Team (top-3 advance to state): 1. Clovis-Buchanan 52. 2. Clovis North 70. 3. Clovis 109. 4. Madera South 130. 5. Clovis West 162. 6. Clovis East 172. 7. McFarland 184. 8. Centennial 204. 9. Stockdale 226. 10. Fresno-Bullard 282. 11. Bakersfield 295.

Individual: 1. Mota, Stockdale, 15:30. 2. Galindo, CN, 15:40. 3. Watkins, Clovis, 15:45. 4. Hansen, Buch, 15:50. 5. Falcone, CE, 15:57. 6. Garcia, MS, 16:00. 7. Toto, Buch, 16:11. 8. McKenney, Buch, 16:14. 9. Hauxhurst, CN, 16:15. 10. Brewer, Buch, 16:15.

Locals: 19. Gonzalez, McFarland, 16:36. 20. Jones, Centennial, 16:38.

D-II

Team (Top-3 advance): 1. Porterville-Monache 47. 2. Reedley 78. 3. Dinuba 101. 4. Liberty 105. 5. Sanger 115. 6. Highland 133. 7. Visalia-Mt. Whitney 186. 8. Shafter 193. 9. Madera 216. 10. Visalia-El Diamante 259.

Individual: 1. Medrano, Highland, 15:35. 2. Mendez, Mon, 15:54. 3. Wolfert, Mt. W, 16:04. 4. Uphoff, Mon, 16:10. 5. Padilla, Din, 16:11. 6. Perez, Din, 16:16. 7. Saleh, Sang, 16:19. 8. Garcia, Mon, 16:27. 9. Mikhail, Liberty, 16:28. 10. Sanchez, Reedley, 16:29.

Locals: 16. Hernandez, 16:45.

D-III

Team (Top-2 advance) 1. Ridgeview 23. 2. Corcoran 115. 3. Foothill 159. 4. Frontier 161. 5. Kerman 162. 6. Wasco 178. 7. Fresno-Edison 214. 8. Arvin 224. 9. South 233. 10. Tulare Western 308. Locals: 11. North 310. 13. Golden Valley 336. 15. Independence 427. 16. East 442.

Individual: 1. Garcia, Ridge, 16:09. 2. Gaxiola, Ridge, 16:13. 3. Swanson, Front, 16:18. 4. Mosqueda, Kerman, 16:22. 5. Adus, Ridge, 16:24. 6. Garcia, South, 16:26. 7. Cuevas, Ridge, 16:29. 8. Fox, Ridge, 16:35. 9. Moreno, Ridge, 16:41. 10. Banuelos, Edison, 16:41.

Locals: 13. Carreno, Foothill, 16:49. 14. Martin, Wasco, 16:53. 18. Hakala, North, 16:59. 19. Castro, Arvin, 17:02. 20. Sobarzo, North, 17:05.

D-IV

Team (Top-2 advance) 1. Avenal 67. 2. Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial 143. 3. Fresno 147. 4. Kennedy 163. 5. Coalinga 219. 6. Mira Monte 240. 7. Rosamond 254. 8. Chavez 290. 9. Bishop 298. 10. Lindsay 302. Locals: 12. West 355. 14. Bakersfield Christian 383. 15. Garces 389. 21. Tehachapi 497. 24. Wonderful Prep 565. 25. Delano 575.

Individual: 1. Ali, Avenal, 16:28. 2. Payan, McL, 16:47. 3. Briana, Coal, 16:54. 4. Cisneros, Lind, 16:57. 5. Menenzes, SJM, 17:00. 6. Arzate, Rosa, 17:01. 7. Orgill, Fresno, 17:05. 8. Salcedo, Avenal, 17:08. 9. Andrete, Hanford, 17:08. 10. Taksa, SJM, 17:11.

Locals: 12: Gutierrez, Kennedy, 17:14. 13. Chavez, West, 17:19. 18. Atwell, Rosa, 17:37.

D-V

Team (top-2 advance) 1. Chowchilla 85. 2. California City 93. 3. Liberty-Madera Ranchos 130. 4. Caruthers 131. 5. Porterville-Granite Hills 190. 6. Mendota 201. 7. Visalia-Central Valley Christian 217. 8. Fowler 228. 9. Frazier Mountain 232. 10. Orange Cove 248.

Individual: 1. Schaap, CVC, 16:44. 2. Jimenez, Porterville-Summit, 17:20. 3. Dystraka, CVC, 17:25. 4. Eggert, Chowchilla, 17:37. 5. Flores, GH, 17:41. 6. Robles, Chow, 17:42. 7. Cook, Desert, 17:44. 8. Escamilla, Cal City, 17:48. 9. Schaefer, Desert, 17:51. 10. Borba, Chow, 17:51.

Girls

D-I

Team: (Top-3 advance to state): 1. Buchanan 26. 2. Clovis 80. 3. McFarland 95. 4. Madera South 105. 5. Clovis East 144. 6. Clovis North 145. 7. Stockdale 172. 8. Clovis West 217. 9. Fresno-Bullard 222. 10. Centennial 270.

Individual: 1. Lowe, Buch, 17:18. 2. Smith, Buch, 17:27. 3. Herrera, Clovis, 18:20. 4. Dolan, Clovis North, 18:26. 5. Gonzalez, McFarland, 18:30. 6. Dolberg, Buch, 18:32. 7. Nili, Buch, 18:39. 8. Ortega, MS, 18:44. 9. Lewis, Clovis, 18:50. 10. Fox, Buch, 18:57.

Locals: 11. A. Cholometes, Stockdale, 19:01. 14. Salcedo, McFarland, 19:15. 17. Smith, Stock, 19:21. 20. B. Valles, McFar, 19:48.

D-II

Team (top-2 advance) 1. Porterville-Monache 60. 2. Visalia-Redwood 66. 3. Madera 75. 4. Sanger 100. 5. Liberty 100. 6. Tulare Western 155. 7. Visalia-Mt. Whitney 163. 8. Frontier 193. 9. Shafter 268. 10. North 287. Locals: 12. East 346.

Individual: 1. Suarez, Monache, 19:10. 2. Ruiz, Mon, 19:24. 3. Sanchez, Liberty, 19:37. 4. Zambrano, Madera, 19:48. 5. Martinez, Madera, 19:48. 6. Taylor, Mon, 19:51. 7. Haberman, Red, 19:59. 8. Palmgren, Lib, 20:03. 9. Quinones, Mon, 20:07. 10. Dismuke, Red, 20:11.

Locals: 12. Champness, Lib, 20:17.

D-III

Team (Top-2 advance) 1. Foothill 93. 2. Ridgeview 99. 3. Independence 105. 4. Dinuba 114. 5. Wasco 134. 6. Kerman 175. 7. Fresno-Central 230. 8. Garces 233. 9. Fresno-Edison 253. 10. Reedley 261. Locals: 12. South 284. 15. Delano 391.

Individual: 1. Valles, Fresno-Sunnyside, 19:29. 2. Raya, Wasco, 19:48. 3. Diaz, Dinb, 19:58. 4. Renberg, Ed, 20:01. 5. Dixon, Exeter, 20:03. 6. Arretche, Garces, 20:22. 7. Delgado, Din, 20:26. 8. Anderson, Tulare Union, 20:28. 9. Chavez, Roose, 20:32. 10. Castellano, Central, 20:33.

Locals: 11. Martinez, Indy, 20:41. 12. Garcia, Foot, 20:42. 13. Mullenmeister, Indy, 20:41. 14. Valdez, Wasco, 20:50. 15. Ahmad, Indy, 20:58. 16. Rojas, Ridge, 21:00. 17. Medina, Ridge, 21:05. 18. Ramos, Foot, 21:10. 20. Muralles, Indy, 21:15.

D-IV

Team (Top-3 advance) 1. Corcoran 48. 2. Hanford West 87. 3. Lindsay 134. 4. Highland 143. 5. Oakhurst-Yosemite 154. 6. Bishop 168. 7. Mira Monte 200. 8. Liberty-MR 210. 9. Fresno 210. 10. Rosamond 216. Locals: 11. Bakersfield Christian 276. 14. Golden Valley 398. 18. Arvin 437.

Individual: 1. Ceasar, Lindsay, 19:07. 2. Ulloa, Highland, 19:41. 3. Fitt, 19:45. 4. Jimenez, Fresno, 20:04. 5. Magana, Corcoran, 20:10. 6. Salas, Corc, 20:34. 7. Guerrero, Corc, 20:43. 8. Coburn, High, 20:53. 9. Guzman, Corc, 20:57. 10. Martinez, Hanf, 20:57.

Locals: 16. Finch, Rosamond, 21:26.

D-V

Team: 1. Wonderful Prep 78. 2. Kennedy 114. 3. Washington Union 127. 4. California City 128. 5. Caruthers 128. 6. Orosi 150. 7. Kern Valley 162. 8. Porterville-Summit 169. 9. Porterville-Granite Hills 201. 10. Riverdale 201.

Individual: 1. Avila, WU, 21:03. 2. Gleason, Fresno-SJM, 21:43. 3. Granados, Chowchilla, 21:49. 4. Tovar, Porterville-Granite Hills, 22:01. 5. Torres, Avenal, 22:06. 6. Ruiz, Wonderful, 22:15. 7. McIntosh, Strathmore, 22:16. 8. Christensen, Desert, 22:19. 9. Pina, Caruthers, 22:19. 10. Jimenez, Summit, 22:27.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.