By Keith Lair, SGVN
FRESNO – There could have been a big letdown.
The Bonita High School girls cross country team won its first CIF-Southern Section championship last week at Mt. SAC and had a big celebration.
But the Bearcats did anything but let down. They ran the seventh-fastest team time of the day to win the CIF State Division II championship going away on Saturday on Fresno’s Woodward Park 5,000-meter course. It was Bonita’s first state title as well.
“We got this far, so we said, `Why not see another championship?’ ” senior Marissa Scott said.
Experts called the Bearcats’ team time of 94 minutes, 10 seconds the biggest surprise of the meet. The Bearcats won the title by 60 points.
Bonita had 83 with Cathedral Catholic of San Diego at 143.
“The girls ran it perfectly,” coach Lonny Carr said. “They did everything perfectly; their mental preparation, their physical preparation. I have no complaints. We wanted this. We wanted CIF, then why not state? We got that.
“What an amazing year.”
Last year, Bonita finished 13th in this meet.
“We knew what we could be,” Carr said. “This group of girls was ready for this since last year in track. That’s when we turned the corner.”
Scott, competing in her fourth state meet, was the Bearcats’ top finisher but not the top Valley finisher in the race.
That honor went to Bishop Amat sophomore Emily Hubert, who was sixth in 18:20.
“It was a lot better than last year,” she said. “It feels real good.
I trained to do well and I’m proud that I came through. Last year I tried to forget.”
She was 89th last year.
Azusa sophomore Roxanne Valle finished 12th in 18:41. It was the first time an Aztecs girl had competed in the meet.
“It was a challenge,” she said.
Bonita’s Scott was 10th in 18:30.
“I was really nervous before the race,” she said. “I knew we trained all season for this and I knew we would pull it off because I had a lot of confidence in my teammates. They get their best effort.”
The Bearcats never lost to a Division 3 team this season.
“They were just outstanding,” Carr said “That big margin (of victory), that’s how good we are. I’m extremely proud of these young ladies. I’m overwhelmed right now.”
Carr will lose only Scott next year. The other six starters are returning.
“We used to try to come here every year,” Carr said. “Now we’re one of the best. We will do everything we can to live up to that.”
Marissa’s sister, sophomore Kailyn, was 17th in 18:49. Freshman Kelsey Creese was 21st in 18:52, junior Mackenize Landa was 23rd in 18:53 and Jordin Prado finished 34th in 19:06.
“We got better after (two miles),” Carr said “We trained for that. We moved up. After that hill, we maintained the pace and held it until the last turn and then let it go.”
The Bearcats’ first six runners were in before Cathedral’s fifth runner.
It arguably was the Valley’s biggest-ever day in the 36th edition of the meet. Arcadia won its second Division I title in three years and California finished second. The Apaches, led by a second-place finish from Estevan De La Rosa and third-place effort from Mitchell Pratt, won by 74 points and ran the second-fastest team time on the course. La Salle’s Daniel De La Torre won the Division IV race. The Flintridge Prep boys finished second in Division V, losing by one point, and Mayfield was third in Division IV.
Arroyo senior Samuel Garcia was ninth in Division II in 15:27. Los Altos Mark Huizar was 15th in 15:48 in Division III. He was the first Los Altos athlete to run in the meet.
“It’s a big honor,” he said. “It just feels great to have all of the faculty support me. I felt like dying out at the end. I left it all on the field.”
Arcadia won it by putting five runners within the top 30. The Apaches ran a team time of 77:00, second only to the 2010 Arcadia team’s 76:12. The Apaches were second last year.
La Salle’s De La Torre made an amazing comeback to win the Division IV race in 15:30.
He trailed John Lawson of Sir Francis Drake, who won the title last year, by 15 seconds with a mile to go., He passed Lawson with 50 yards to go for the win.