An automobile accident just before the school year, that involved sophomore Alex Cuevas, nearly put a huge damper on the Ridgeview boys cross country team’s season before it ever began.
But instead, the incident and Cuevas' inspirational recovery gave the Wolf Pack, under the guidance of first-year head coach Greg Dabbs, motivation to have a season full of successes.
Dabbs, the 2017 BVarsity All-Area Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year, led Ridgeview to a trio of championships (South Yosemite League, Kern County, and Central Section Division III) and an impressive sixth place finish at the state meet.
In the 31-year history of the state championships being held in Fresno, it was the first time a school from Bakersfield had ever finished in the top 10.
“(Alex’s accident) really put into focus how precious life is and to take advantage of every opportunity that is given to them,” Dabbs said. “They did a great job with that this year.”
The Wolf Pack won nine of the 15 races it competed in this past season. Only twice did Ridgeview finish outside the top three in an event’s final team standings.
“The kids realized that you never know if you’re going to run another race,” Dabbs said. “They gave 100-percent every practice.”
The highlight of the season for Dabbs was winning the section title, Ridgeview’s first ever.
The Wolf Pack dominated the section meet, placing six runners, including Cuevas (seventh), in the top nine.
“It was like magic,” Dabbs said. “The kids were so excited. That’s the best part about being a coach, is getting to see their faces…It was amazing. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, getting to see those kids finish.”