The CIF State Championships for cross country take place on Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno. Unlike previous years, I will not be there. Ace reporter J.P. Hoornstra will be there instead.
Here is a look at the county teams/individuals that will be competing:
Division 1 boys, 12:20 p.m.
The Cougars were ranked No. 1 in the state last week before finishing second at CIF-SS Finals. As well as Arcadia ran last week, it will take a vast improvement by Rancho Cucamonga and a drop off by Arcadia to win, but second place would still be impressive. This is the fourth straight year at state for the team, and for seniors Luis Gutierrez and Calvin Davis, who were on the varsity as freshmen.
Division 2 boys, 11:15 a.m.
For the longest time, Ayala’s girls had the better reputation, but this is the third time in the last five years the boys are going. The boys finished fourth last week and will have to run well to maintain that position.
Division 2 girls, 12:50 p.m.
The Colony girls have had Xochitl Navarrete and Valerie Mares go as individuals before, but never had their team go. The Titans are happy to be there after finishing seventh and grabbing the last qualifying spot, so just running a solid race is a good goal.
Melissa Fairchild, Serrano
The Sun’s runner of the year last year, she isn’t able to go with her team. Her team was expected to make it to state, but didn’t even make it to finals. She should be near the front of the pack.
Division 3 boys, 1:25 p.m.
Ismael Griego, Granite Hills
He was the No. 1 runner on the team that went to state last year. The team around him wasn’t as strong this year, so he’ll have to go it alone.
Division 3 girls, 11:45 a.m.
Last year, Granite Hills took both the boys and the girls. Only the girls as a team are back, and looking to improve on their ninth-place finish last year.
Division 4 boys, 9:40 a.m.
Big Bear was a Division 4 mainstay at state for years, even after Ryan and Chad Hall graduated. After winning back-to-back state titles in 2007-08, they finished fourth in 2009. They didn’t qualify last year, so taking fourth at CIF-SS Finals is a step back in the right direction. Big Bear, led by Bryan Hayes (second at CIF-SS Finals), has a history of coming up big at the state meet.