Posted by KING HIGH CROSS COUNTRY on Nov 20 2022 at 09:49AM PST

WALNUT:  Thoughts of “November” fill the minds of every runner when training for the cross country season commences each June.  The reason is because November holds the Championships – league, yes, but more importantly, CIF and State.  Many months and miles later, just a fraction of the CIF Division’s 90-plus teams gets the chance to compete in the Final and fewer still punch their tickets to State.

The Wolves were one of those talented few squads who took the line yesterday at the CIF Finals, contested over the hilly 2.93 mile Mt.SAC course in Walnut.

King entered the race with an unofficial seeding of 9th-best of the 16 teams based off of the times from last week’s Preliminary race.  The top 7 placing teams on the day are awarded a trip to next weekend’s State Championships in Fresno.  Playing the underdog roll and biting off one of those tasty seven spots was certainly on the minds of King’s racers.

It wasn’t to be.  The team would ultimately finish in 11th, a spot better than the official 12th place ranking they entered the post season with three weeks ago. Their 274 points were well back of the race winner, San Clemente High who finished with 73 to take the CIF title and 70 behind league rival Santiago who took that final State berth for themselves with 204 points

Senior Christian DeLoye was the first from Martin Luther King across the line in 38th place, having passed 14 runners in the last mile. His time of 15:51 was a personal best and 9th best all time in King’s history.

Freshman Maximo Zavaleta also ran a personal best of 15:54 in 40th and moved to 12th on King’s all time Mt.SAC list.

A gap formed to King’s third, Bradley Quezada and fourth, Damien Zemanek who dropped a  second off of his previous fastest course time but the two were only a few places apart.

Seniors Jack Slavin, (87), John Gathuu (90) and Matt Gwynn (99) rounded out the team.

Head coach Alfonso Ibarra said later, “I’m very proud of the teams effort. They ran a faster time than last week and I couldn’t ask for more as the Mt. Sac course can be unforgiving on back to back weekends.”

This was the 4th-consecutive trip to CIF Finals for the boys, notwithstanding 2020 which was cancelled due to the pandemic. In 2021 the Wolves were 14th, so to move up three spots was an accomplishment of improvement.

June, in some sense, seems like just the other day.  But from the vantage point of November, it can also seem like a long time ago.  Either way, the 2022 campaign ended yesterday. It was a successful one at that. Coach Ibarra took the helm of the program last summer and guided the group with a steady hand into cooler temperatures and changing leaves.

All this bodes well for seasons – and Novembers — to come.