Final thoughts on state cross country meet

Although very foggy for the first few races or so, it turned out to be a very nice day Saturday in Fresno for the CIF State Cross Country Championships, the 22nd edition.

Some final thoughts, race by race:

Boys Division I

Upland rarely ran its full lineup this season as coach Mike Wilson erred on the side of caution when runners were slightly ill or injured. It was clear Upland could usually do better, but we didn’t know exactly how much better until Saturday. A third place finish in the division, answered that question.

Overshadowed but certainly deserving of recognition was Rancho Cucamonga’s sixth-place finish.

Boys Division II

It used to be that the Ayala boys had to live in the shadow of the Ayala girls. But after the Ayala boys made it back-to-back years to state (without the girls), and an eighth-place finish, maybe now it’s the other way around.

Boys Division III

Barstow won as expected, but it could be the end to one of the greatest runs in state championship history, with four state titles and six in eight years. All seven Barstow runners Saturday are seniors.

“You have to get breaks to do this (win 4 state titles),” Barstow coach Jim Duarte said. “It’s hard work and luck.”

It would be a lot to expect Barstow to win again — with some good younger runners who have no experience at the state championships. But if the Aztecs don’t win next year, it won’t be long before they’re back in the title hunt again soon.

Boys Division IV

It used to be that Big Bear was the school known for producing Ryan and Chad Hall, coach Mickey Hall’s sons. But the Bears have now won 3 straight titles, two of which came after the Halls’ high school days were over.

Boys Division V

Despite being one of the few boarding schools in the Southern Section, Webb (6th this year) somehow regularly produces teams that advance to the state meet. And that’s usually without the luxury of one dominant runner.

Girls Division I

After getting to state, it was all gravy for Chino Hills, which took eighth after finishing seventh in the CIF-SS last week. Downey Warren and Redlands, who were eighth and ninth last week in the CIF-SS, surely would’ve done much better than most of the teams at state. They should look at allowing more than 7 teams to qualify. All 7 CIF-SS teams in this race placed in the top nine.

Rancho Cucamonga’s Melissa Telon was a respectable 21st, and she’s only a junior.

Girls Division II

The Sultana girls were overshadowed in the High Desert by other schools. Barstow’s boys winning state titles. Apple Valley’s Daniel Rosales and Hannah Valenzuela, finishing in the top 5 pretty much every week.

But Sultana (which finished third) had only one runner older than a sophomore among their seven on Saturday, senior Alaina Bird, who was their fourth runner. They deserve plenty of praise and should be good next year.

Girls Division III

Like Sultana, St. Lucy’s is young with only one senior on its squad. It’s tough enough to get out of the Sierra League, but the Regents should be even better next year.

Girls Division IV

No locals in this race

Girls Division V

No locals in this race, but San Luis Obispo Mission Prep’s Jordan Hasay will go down in history as one of the state’s all-time greats, with four individual championships, Sara Bei of Santa Rosa Montgomery (1997-2000) is the only other one (boys or girls) to accomplish that feat.

Barstow wins in a four-peat

Barstow High School’s boys, a group of seven seniors, won the school’s fourth straight Division III state cross country championships, Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Barstow’s 70 points edged out Moraga Campolindo, which had 101. Senior Isaac Chavez was second (15:15). It was  good race overall for San Bernardino County runners. Apple Valley junior Daniel Rosales was third in 15:16, and Rim of the World junior Dustin Fay was sixth in 15:27. Both were competing as individuals.

Upland takes third

Division I boys results are in at the state cross country championships, and Upland took third with a team score of 135, trailing Dana Hills and Fresno Buchanan. Guzman was fourth, and Rancho Cucamonga’s Joey Ruelas-Hidalgo was 12th. Rancho Cucamonga finished sixth as a team.

In D2 boys, the second race of the day, Ayala finished a respectable seventh. Tyler Reed led the way with a 13th-place finish.

First race is done …

My post last night that  the weather shouldn’t be a factor might not have been quite accurate. A heavy fog enveloped the Woodward Park course. It should burn off for the later races, but it is still foggy now, making for a surreal setting.

In the first race, boys Division I, Upland’s John Guzman was fourth. No word yet on team finishes, but it looks like Upland and Rancho Cucamonga did quite well.

On the eve of the state cross country meet

I’m here in Fresno now, for the CIF State Cross Country meet, which is Saturday morning and afternoon.

Weather is supposed to be nice — no rain, with high temperatures in the 60s. There are some teams who do better in the heat, some who do better in the cold, and some who do better in the rain.

It seems as if conditions at Woodward Park course will be a fair one, to determine state champions.

I’m looking forward to see if Big Bear and Barstow boys teams can repeat as state champions. I’m looking forward to seeing how Baseline League boys rivals from Upland and Rancho Cucamonga fare in Division I, and that’s the first race of the morning at 8:30 a.m.

I’ll be watching closely to see how several runners who qualified as individuals: Apple Valley’s Hannah Valenzuela and Daniel Rosales, Rim’s Dustin Fay, Rancho Cucamonga’s Melissa Telon and Ontario Christian’s Zach Oliver, among others, fare in their races.

Stay tuned — I plan on blogging Saturday from Woodward Park.

End of the Upland Christian run?

I remain as unbiased as possible when covering high school sports events, even when its a local team facing a non-local.

But at the end of a playoff run, it’s hard not to offer some condolences when the local team loses.

“You had a great run,” I said to Upland Christian girls volleyball coach Doug Porterfield Wednesday after the Eagles lost in the CIF-SS semifinals to Los Angeles Bishop Conaty-Loretto.

“There’s always next year,” was the cliche’ I said to Danielle Maxwell, knowing that she’s a junior and there’s only one senior on the whole team.

Yet, there may not be a next year. As the school transitions from Upland Christian to Western Christian, many of the students don’t know if they’ll be at the new school. Most, if not all, of their teachers, will likely be gone. The tradition they created will be wiped out.

There was certainly a motivation to win for Porterfield, who was fired last week before he was reinstated a day later. But there’s also a motivation to win for yourself, your teammates and your school. All members of the Upland Christian family will remember this run to the semifinals, no matter where they are next year.

It’s one head-to-head Sierra League battle to watch for two more years

While covering last week’s Glendora-Chino Hills football game thriller, I was struck by one head-to-head matchup in particular.

It was between Glendora receiver Wallace Gonzalez, who stands 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, and Chino Hills defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who is 5-foot-10, 180 pounds. It doesn’t sound like much of a matchup, but it is. Gonzalez caught six passes in the game for 81 yards and a touchdown, and leads the team with 44 receptions for 703 yards and five touchdowns this season. He has two games of over 150 receiving yards this season.

Ekpre-Olomu has rushed for 193 yards on offense, but has done more damage on defense, intercepting a team-leading eight passes (including two against Glendora) and recovering two fumbles. He also has 32 solo tackles and 12 tackle assists. Ekpre-Olomu was matched up with Gonzalez quite a bit in that game.

Maybe the most impressive thing about this duo is that they are both sophomores.

“I don’t want to see that guy (Gonzalez) for two more years,” Chino Hills coach Derek Bub said. “But we’ve got Ifo for two more years, too.”

I wouldn’t be surprised to see these two matched up on each other at the next level, either.