Greg Dabbs still doesn’t want to be pinched.
The second-year Ridgeview boys cross country coach remains in awe of exactly what his team did this season.
The Wolf Pack won a second consecutive Central Section Division III title and then 10 days later became the first program from Bakersfield to win a state title with a resounding victory in D-III.
For his efforts, Dabbs is the 2018 BVarsity All-Area Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year.
"It’s still pretty amazing. It’s starts with really good assistant coaches and a mentor,” Dabbs said. “The kids are so enjoyable to be around. They make it fun to go to work. You can’t ask for better kids.”
Dabbs knew this was a special team when he took it over last season from mentor Adam Setzer, who was the 2016 BVarsity Coach of the Year before Dabbs was selected for the honor last year, too.
With five of the top six returners coming back from the 2017 D-III section champions that finished sixth at state, Dabbs continued to lean on the guidance of Setzer and brought in former South and Stockdale coach Ryan Lucker to help out.
“When I took over last year, they were good and we knew we had some great returners. We knew we would be good,” Dabbs said. “They were up for the challenge and worked harder and harder as the season went on.”
Ridgeview was one of three teams with West Torrance and Moraga-Campolindo as favorites to win the state title.
As the state meet finished, the coaches began to tally up the times for their runners against the field. First it was Alex Cuevas, the section D-III champion, coming in 9th place. Then fellow junior Ased Adus finished in 18th place with sophomore Gerardo Moreno right behind in 20th. Senior Bryan Gaxiola was five spots behind in 25th. Then when senior Jonah Mlina came in 32nd, they knew the dream became a reality.
“You envision it before the race, of course. But once you see it on paper, it’s a wow moment,” Dabbs said. “All of that hard work really paid off. Just seeing the kids' faces that they won was disbelief, then the joy kicks in. That was awesome.”