A look of sheer disappointment was evident on the face Madera South lead cross country runner Miguel Villar after the Stallions finished fifth as a team in the California Interscholastic Federation State Cross Country Championships.
Villar expected more from the ninth-consecutive time Central Section champion, the Stallions boy’s team, who refer to each as “brothers” and “familly.” He finished at 14th place with a time of 15:33.4 on the 3.1-mile cross country course at Woodward Park last Saturday.
As a junior last season, he was No. 2 to leader Eduardo “Lalo” Herrera. Villa, among the four graduating on the squad, clearly desired a better finish.
“I’m very blessed to be in this position; a high-stakes race with a great group of guys,” said Villar, “but just disappointed. We could’ve done better as a team.”
Villar felt some pressure leading the squad with a huge amount of support coming from Madera. The Stallions were surrounded by family and friends in support of both the boy’s and girl’s teams.
“I wish I could’ve performed a little better,” added Villar, the Central Section Division I champion.
Among the supporters last Saturday was Herrera, who also expected a better team finish from the boy’s squad.
“They shouldn’t be hanging their heads down. They looked really fit; they looked strong. There was Valley (victory), and there’s track and field, so they shouldn’t hang their heads down.” said Herrera.
“There’s just a lot of things that happen in a race. We’re still proud of the outcome.”
“They’re passionate about this, they sacrificed their social life for this,” added head coach Eloy Quintana,”It’s going to sting a little bit, but knowing them, competitive-wise, they’ll come back and be ready for what’s next up for us.”
In season’s past, while the Stallions were making Central Section news accumulating Valley titles. Several athletes, coming from farmworking families, said they needed to explain to their parents exactly what cross country is and what collegiate opportunities the sport can provide.
Quintana believes a good percentage of parents between the Stallions boy’s and girl’s continue to work in the fields, but the generations have come to achieve college educations.
Herrera red-shirted his freshman season at Colorado State University, but will begin competitively on the men’s cross country team. Throughout his first year at Colorado, he trained with the men’s squad to ease his way to collegiate competition. Juan Macias, also a 2015 graduate, is on the men’s cross country team at Holy Names University. Jonnie Montano, a 2014 graduate, continues her cross country racing with the Sunbirds at Fresno Pacific University. On the Sunbirds’ men’s cross country is Madera South 2012 graduate Ismael Guzman.
Quintana is already receiving correspondence about this year’s squad from numerous collegiate cross country and track and field squads, including Northern Arizona State University, last year’s Division I national cross country champion.
“When we see the faces of the parents knowing they don’t have to pay for college, that’s the cherry on the top for us,” said Quintana, who also referenced the importance of Madera’s middle-school program.
“It feeds into our high school program. They’re doing an exceptional job in getting kids out and helping them to fall in love with running,” said Quintana.
Fresno High’s López fourth in Division III
The Central Section cross country champion in Division III, Fresno High’s Evert Silva López ended his high school career with a fourth place in the state final. The Fresno High senior crossed the finish line last Saturday at 15:09.6.
“I’m pleased, but I’m not satisfied. I just wished I had a little bit more for the last 300 meters, but my legs went a little lactic. Whenever you get lactic acid in your legs, that’s it for that race,” said López, who goes by Evert Silva.
Silva said he began to feel the lactic acid while crossing the paved roadway with about 300 meters remaining to the race.
“I was sprinting down the whole road, but it eventually got to me,” he said.
“I was hoping to win, but everything isn’t going to go how you planned. I’m definitely going to work harder. I’ll take this, and work toward the track season. There’s definitely going to be another story there.”
Silva plans on competing at the Foot Locker West Regional in early December in Walnut.
Silva, who won this course the Valley title just three weeks ago with a time of 15:30.4, is holding off making a decision on colleges to possibly study criminology.
Coalinga’s Iván Ayala gets seventh
Coalinga High senior Iván Ayala was the only area runner who joined the top-10 state finishers on stage in the awards ceremony after finishing seventh in Division IV on a time of 15:50.6 last Saturday.
Other top-10 finishers included winner Callum Bolger from San Luis, Jared Rodríguez of Foothill and Joseph García of Salesian, and Ayala, who proudly sported his Coalinga High athletic jacket in the ceremony.
“I was going for the top 10, and I got seventh,” said Ayala, 17, who qualified to the cross country state finals as a sophomore finishing in 51st place, but failed to qualify his junior season.
“My training wasn’t there (junior season), but I just came back with the mentality to be a champion. It took a lot of work to get here, a lot of work “
Ayala’s personal best this season was 15:46. He won the Valley champion on the same course last month att 15:56.
Ayala said he can run a 4:23 in the 1-mile event in track and field.
Highland’s Moises Medrano finishes 31st in D-2 race
While Highland High School junior Moises Medrano walks away from the CIF State Finals in 31st place, he’s confident of a return to the state finals.
Medrano – the Central Section Valley titleholder in Division II at 15:33, his personal best on the season – finished the Division II state final at 15:53.4.
“I’m exhausted. My legs just went dead that last mile, but I tried pushing it as hard I could those last 400 meters,” he said.
Medrano said a better finish could have been within reach, but perhaps there was too much preparation with the Valley meet may have taken a toll on his body.
“I was tired after Valley, I was just emotionally drained,” said Medrano.
Medrano led Highland to the league championship. The personal best finish for the section Valley D-2 title, he said, added to his accomplishments.
“I’m really looking forward to next year just to redeem myself for a better finish. I wanted to at least make my best time,” said Medrano.
Younger sibling Matthew Medrano, an eighth-grader, said Moises, will likely be in track and field and cross country next year.