It may not have had the drama of last year, when the Ridgeview boys team captured the Division III title, but Saturday’s CIF State Cross Country Championships was a solid end of the season.
Of the 36 Kern County runners competing at Fresno’s Woodward Park, only Burroughs’ Bryce Hill earned a medal after finishing ninth in 15 minutes, 36.6 seconds in the Division IV race.
But there were still plenty of strong performances.
Highland junior Jacob Yagers (15:18.3) placed 11th in the D-II race, one spot shy of a medal.
“I’m feeling pretty disappointed,” said Yagers, who won the D-II title at the Central Section meet last week. “I wanted to at least get a medal today and a (personal record), and I didn’t get either of those.
"We went out a lot faster than I was used to. I didn’t really have too much of a strategy. I just wanted to stay with the top pack and try to hold on. But I think going out so hard the first mile it just threw me off. I wasn’t really prepared to go out that fast.”
To help prepare him for next season, Yagers already has a plan.
“For the most part I had a pretty good season,” Yagers said. “I’m pretty proud of it. I’m definitely bummed about today, but overall I think I’m pretty proud of myself.
"It definitely motivates me for next year. I definitely want to be top five at least next year. I’m going to try to go to some more big, competitive meets so I can get used to going out with that faster pace the first mile.”
Yagers finished a few places ahead of Ridgeview’s Alex Cuevas (15:28.0), who came in 16th to help the Wolf Pack to a 12th-place team finish.
“It was a tough race due to the fact that I’ve been sick for a while,” Cuevas said. “I know my performance could have been a lot better, but it is what it is. And overall I’m satisfied that I was able to compete in the state meet and compete against some really good guys.
“Im grateful to be able to compete with Ridgeview. Starting from my freshman year this was a program that I know took second quite a lot in the Valley. My goal was to perform the best and represent Ridgeview the best that I can. And I think I represented Ridgeview very well and it’s obviously always (will) have a place in my heart with all my running career. It’s just been an incredible ride with all my teammates, and I’m grateful for it.”
Ridgeview coach Greg Dabbs agreed, saying “They ran better than they did last week, so as a team we did really well. To be the best you have to run with the best. It was good experience for the kids. Those kids stepped up and they did the best that they could. That’s all you can ask as a coach.
“The cross country kids gave us everything they had this year. They went undefeated in league, they repeated as section champions, in a different division; they gave us their best effort and as a coach that’s all you can ask for.”
Liberty’s Ethan Jones also had a solid performance, placing 13th in the Division I race in 15:20.4. Stockdale’s Adham Maher was 39th in 15:40.6.
In the girls action, McFarland junior Hilda Gonzalez had the fastest time (18:47.8), good enough for 54th in the Division I race.
Freshman Elena Baltazar from Independence finished 45th in the Division III race (19:26.8), with Highland teammates Haley Ulloa (54th in 19:32.0) and Neyda Martinez (81st in 19:56.0) not too far behind. Martinez’s time was a personal record.
“I was able to come out really strong,” Martinez said. “I wasn’t really tired, but I felt sore on the second mile and I just kept pushing through the whole entire time. By the last mile I was just chasing every girl in front of me. So the last 800 I just kicked it and gave it everything I had.”
CIF State Cross Country Championships
At Woodward Park, Fresno; 5K course
Kern County results
INDIVIDUAL: 13. Ethan Jones, Liberty, 15:20.4; 39. Adham Maher, Stockdale, 15:40.6; 147. Juanathan Reyes, Stockdale, 16:48.7.
TEAM: 12. Ridgeview, 326.
INDIVIDUAL: 11. Jacob Yagers, Highland, 15:18.3; 16. Alex Cuevas, Ridgeview, 15:28.0; 42. Ased Adus, Ridgeview, 15:50.2; 84. Gerardo Moreno, Ridgeview, 16:15.4; 124. Jorge Gallindo, Ridgeview, 16:37.7; 146. William Gonzalez, Ridgeview, 16:49. 7; 164. Payton Fox, Ridgeview, 17:02.2; 172: Ozni Boyar, Ridgeview, 17:17.6.
TEAM: 23. Frontier, 561; 25. Foothill, 662.
INDIVIDUAL: 48. Francis “Fex” Johnson, Foothill, 16:16.0; 110. Angel Pimentel, Frontier, 16:51.0; 131. Peyton Leone, Frontier, 17.06.0; 132. Elias Lopez, Frontier, 17:07.2; 156. Rucker Monaco, Frontier, 17:29.7; 189. Isai Valdez, Foothill, 17:54.4; 193. Edgar Garcia, Foothill, 18:05.8; 197. Luis Martinez, Foothill, 18:15.9; 199. Ryan Bidwell, Frontier, 18:16.3; 201. Francisco Felix, Frontier, 18:19.9; 206. Isaac Hernandez, Frontier, 18:43.7; 213. Adan Martinez, Foothill, 19:11.3; 215. Christopher Hernandez, Foothill, 19:41.5; 217. Alvaro Vargas, Foothill, 20.30.3.
INDIVIDUAL: 9. Bryce Hill, Burroughs, 15:36.6; 102. Nathanael Rodriguez, East, 16:57.4; 117. Mason Madden, Tehachapi, 17:05.2; 193. Patrick Espinoza, Kennedy, 18:49.2.
INDIVIDUAL: 54. Hilda Gonzalez, McFarland, 18:47.8.
INDIVIDUAL: 45. Elena Baltazar, Independence, 19:26.8; 54. Haley Ulloa, Highland, 19:32.0; 81. Neyda Martinez, Highland, 19:56.0.
INDIVIDUAL: 54. Kalley Kolesar, Tehachapi, 19:19.1; 63. Mikaela Ortega, Chavez, 19:38. 2.
INDIVIDUAL: 144. Jade Christensen, Desert, 22:21.3.