One race does not define a cross country career like that of Marcus Mota.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t soon forget what once again slipped through his fingers.
The Stockdale senior has won the Central Section Division I boys cross country individual title each of the last two seasons but has yet to walk away with state hardware.
Mota has been the top boys runner all season in the section and is the 2018 BVarsity All-Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
But there is more to his deep drive to get better every day.
“I believe I did the best that I could possibly do over the last four years,” Mota said. “But with a new chapter I have in college will be a opportunity to push myself every day with new guys.”
Mota had the third-best 3-mile time in the state this season in 14:05 in the Woodbridge Classic in September. That race solidified that he once again is one of the top runners in the state.
Mota finished third in the Sweepstakes race behind Nico Young of Newbury Park (won the CIF State D-II title) and Kevin Ramos Leyva from Riverside-Rubidoux, the runner-up in D-III at state.
“I loved this season. The beginning of the season was the best I ever had,” Mota said. “That was the best part of the season. When Woodbridge came around, it was amazing. I didn’t expect that. It was wonderful.”
Mota continued to stay near the top of the ranks in California throughout the season with a 6th-place finish at the Stanford Invitational and finished 9th at the 40th annual Asics Clovis Cross Country Invitational.
Then Mota put his stamp on section history with a second consecutive D-I title at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 15.
But still, Mota, a highly competitive athlete, said he was still was not satisfied without wanting to come off ungrateful about his accomplishments.
“Even though I do have two section titles, it doesn’t mean as much because I want to go above and beyond that,” Mota said. “I want to strive for more than that.”
It makes sense.
Mota has been one of the best cross country runners in the state the past two seasons, but came up short with an 18th-place finish in the CIF State Division I finals in 2017 and against missed the podium with a 12th-place finish this season at state.
But think about this: Mota was coached by four different cross country coaches over the last four seasons. It started with Bryson Gholston, who is now the boys basketball coach on campus. Then it was Clark Jue, who is now the swim coach, during Mota’s first BVarsity Runner of the Year season in 2016.
Last year, Mota was coached by Ryan Lucker, who is now the lead assistant for D-III state champion Ridgeview.
This year, Tyus Thompson took over as the cross country coach at Stockdale.
“I learned a lot from all of my coaches and made a lot of memories I’ll never forget,” Mota said. “I’ll never forget and love every single one of them and glad they were part of my experience.”
Mota now has two things on his mind before his high school career is over.
He is waiting to take official visits to UC Davis and Cal Poly before making his decision on where he will run in college.
Then, under the tutelage of longtime track and field coach Dave Lonsinger, Mota is already training for his final season in track where he has finished one spot from the podium in the state 3,200-meter finals with 7th-place finishes in 2017 and 2018.
“I am so eager. I already started training,” Mota said. “I can’t wait for the track season. I’ve been close so many times. I don’t want to make it close again. I just want to get it done.”
This is not it for Mota, who thinks of himself more as a long distance track and field runner than cross country because of how detailed he is with his training.
“Track is a little more precise and accurate,” Mota said. “I know what’s left. I know what I start with. Cross country is more of a sport that is spontaneous.”