CIF FINALS IS SWEET BITTER
All year the boys from King have been full of potential but lacking in execution. They finished last season 13th at CIF Finals and returned all but one from that race in 2019.
That potential had the Wolves starting the season ranked in the top 5 of CIF SS Division 1 (A division with more that 85 schools in it) but their results throughout the season saw that ranking steadily edge downward to 14th by the end of the regular season. It wasn’t that the team couldn’t run faster, it was just that they couldn’t manage to put it all together in any one race. It really was a roller coaster for the team until last weekend in the Prelims where a good race seemed to indicate the potential was becoming the reality.
The day they were hoping to have since August finally arrived on Saturday at the CIF Final. File it under “saving the best for last” or perhaps, “desperation” as not only was redemption on the line but so too was a shot at the State meet. The boys put together the race of their season, packing well, racing fast and finishing high: That 14th-ranked team finished 8th in the Finals. It was sweet.
The bitter pill however was that despite a great race, the team finished one place short of the 7th and final team berth into the State Championship, to be held next weekend in Fresno. To make it harder to swallow, just six points separated them from that final spot which was taken by Vista Murrieta.
The boys were understandably upset, leaving the arena so close yet so far away from a season-long goal. The mid-race score had King hanging on to 7th place. Mitchell Machuca was screaming in the last mile and a half (passing 14 opponents) to keep it close, but the 7th position slipped from their grasp. Machuca led a parade of PRs for King. His 15:38 bettered his best from last year. Freshman John Gathuu nearly matched his PR and 9th grade school record set last week. He was also the fastest freshman in the field of 183 finishers. Francisco Zavaleta, Austin Fortenberry and Edgar Ortega all scored with season-best marks for the course. Brian Green and Gray Mavhera were 6th and 7th for the Wolves.
The girls have had a different story this season than the boys, as they have never been ranked and got into the Finals by the skin of their teeth; they were the 25th squad of 25 to make it.
So with nothing to lose, they went for it, aiming at a top 20 finish. They were close but finished 22nd. Joan Green, in her last XC race of high school, finished with a PR at 18:13, leading the team in 32nd place overall. Jocelynn Stevenson matched her best time on the course while Evenie Fuentes ran a 30 second course best to cross in 3rd for the Wolves. Victoria Gonzalez and Jenna Bernath wrapped up the scoring group for the team while Audrey Brunken and Andreya Goodson were 6th and 7th for the group.
Both teams ran good races, and on the final race for good measure. If they’re already looking to the future, to 2020, they should be encouraged. The girls lose just two seniors from this squad and while the boys will bid farewell to three, there is a stable of fast and very talented underclassmen waiting in the wings to complement the current varsity guys that will return next year.
Whatever bitterness they may taste right now will fade, but before it does, it should fuel the hunger for better things to come. By the looks of it today, there is much good to come. Which is a sweet thing.