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King Cross Country:Team History

King Cross Country

Friday, December 21
2018 - LEGACY

The 2018 season was the 20th year of competition for King High Cross Country.  We celebrated two decades of success by adding another season to that growing legacy.

The boys were young in 2017 but began to grow into maturity as athletes in 2018 and it showed. High finishes at the Cool Breeze Invitational, Mt. Carmel, Nike Twilight and winning the Riverside Invitational all demonstrated that.  While there was a near upset of Roosevelt in the league competition, King would settle for second place, after giving the Mustangs everything they could handle in the league final.

In CIF the boys ran respectably, finishing in 13th place at Finals, the highest finish in a number of years. 

A highlight of the season was a wonderful trip to Seattle, Washington to compete in the Nike Twilight Invitational.  A fun flight, three nights and two full days of seeing the sights of Seattle - in absolutely beautiful weather thrown in for no extra charge! - was another highlight in the history of King XC's practice of traveling to cool destinations.   (Photos of the trip)

The girls' had all kinds of adversity aflict them, from injuries to key scorers and an infusion of untested varsity athletes.  Despite the challenges, the girls found a way to rise in the midst of a lot of uncertainty that seemed to present itself each week.  A rotating lineup made each week an excercise in  faith that the group on the line would, in fact, be the top seven runners on the day.  But in the end, they prevailed. They prevailed because of good attitudes, a willingness to work with each other, to be coached and keep trying. 

The girls finished second in the Big 8 and ultimately ran their best race of the year at CIF Prelims to qualify for CIF Finals.  It was a remarkable achievement, getting to the final race of the season.  Garrett Vasta and Joanie Green were selected as the team MVP's. 

Monday, January 29

As the 19th season of King XC commenced a challenge was put forth: Think Different!  So much of the achievement earned in sports is found at the doorstep of the mind.  Are you willing to risk? Are you willing to think bigger than you ever have before? Are willing to think differently about the ways you've always gone after athletic accomplishment?

These were the questions we asked ourselves in 2017, as the theme for the season weekly asked athletes to "thinc diphrunt" about every aspect of the sport.

The results, we think, were good, though at the end of the day they are somewhat immeasurable as they operate in the realm of the mind.  Still, good things came.

For the girls, in light of the absence of several top seniors to graduation, they had to think differently about the possibility of winning League and repeating at the State Meet with a different squad. Though they'd fall short of the League title (though they won the league finals race by over 20 points) they did something no other team at King had done before, and that was they repeated at the State meet.  In fact, they not only repeated the participation, but they also finished sixth overall for the second year in a row.  Lauren Peurifoy finished All State for a second year in a row and advanced to the Nike Cross Nationals meet for the second time as well.

The boys were untested and for the most part, inexperienced.  Most of the boys who competed at the varsity level had never done that before.  Though they would finish in 3rd at league (despite a 4th-place finish at the league finals) the team competed very admirably at the CIF Prelims for D1 where they would bow out of the campaign. On the line that day, and racing with great poise were 3 freshmen and 2 sophomores -- a sign of good things in the future should these boys determine to train well together and focus on the plan. 

Thinking differently proved to be a very valuable thing to focus on this season.  To what degree each athlete did or did not do that, we'll never know.  But if the results say anything, they say that more than a few thought, it doesn't matter if we've never done "that thing" before, we can do it this year.  It doesn't matter if I'm a freshman, I can run varsity.  It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks ... I want this ... we want this.  2017 seemed to indicate thinking differently about what was possible was not just a theme but the story of the season. 

Team MVP's: Lauren Peurifoy, Garrett Vasta, Mitchell Machuca 

Monday, May 8

In a sport that requires a great amount of self discipline and has more than its fair share of adversity inherent in it, "faithFULL" was the theme for the season, as we attempted to talk about, think about and practice the art of faithfulness.  We wanted our athletes to think about how stepping out in faith in training, or in being faithful to their health, their teammates, their coaches they would find "FULLNESS" of reward.

By the look of the competitive results of the season, it would seem that the teams got close to that goal.

The girls were the story of the season, as they went from "prelims and out" in 2015 to the State Championships in 2016.  They remained faithful to each other and to the process to train well in the summer and patient during the season.  With dramatic improvement from a couple, the return from injury by another and the arrival of a talented newcomer, the team made an immediate splash at the first meet, launching the unheralded preseason team into the top ten rankings of D1 from that point to the finish, where they placed sixth in the State meet, after winning league, the Lowell Invitational and the Lancer Classic. 

At the State Meet, where the team set a 5K team time school record and solidified themselves as the most accomplished team in school history, the team's lead runner, Lauren Peurifoy placed second overall, a match of the finish she earned one week earlier at CIF Finals.  That placement earned her an invitation to the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon, the next weekend, where she finished 25th in the national championship. In December, she was chosen the Press Enterprise Athlete of the Year for Cross Country.

The boys' team was full of "varsity rookies".  It wasn't that they were freshmen, but that they had effectively never run varsity before.  They experienced the expected "growing pains" of such a leap - from JV or Frosh Soph to varsity in one year - but they ultimately handled the bump up as well as could be expected. They finished tied for second in the league, placed well in every invitational they entered and then did something few teams in their situation have ever done: They qualified for CIF Finals!

Yes, this team that was had no varsity experience one year earlier, had made the leap and landed on their feet, right there in the midst of the best D1 teams in the Southern Section of CIF.  The "move up" was as impressive as the girls' was.

FaithFULLness is hard to measure or quanitify.  Its usually hidden, found in the pre-dawn darkness, or in a cooldown after a race, or in the way one talks to a teammate.  It's a quiet virtue, uncomfortable in staging itself for all to see.  But it does ultimately show itself.  The big reveal comes loudly in the rewards that result from practicing it.  People will see accomplishment and rarely recognize the faithfulness the athlete praciced in order to achieve it.  But regardless of acclaim, or lack of it, faithfulness is still the oil in life's engine, and without it, life - and the sport of cross country - fall far short of what it could be.

Team MVP's:  Mario Machuca and Lauren Peurifoy 

Wednesday, May 11

The 2015 teams sought to pursue both grace and racing.  Or racing gracefully.  Whatever order you put it in, that was the goal and the hope of the season. That by the time the last race was run, the King kids would learn to practice great racing and do so with grace.  Grace, a different word for the more commonly understood "team chemistry" even had an acronym attached to it.  "Great Relationships and Cool Experiences".  We believed, and still do, that when a team is building and nurting great interpersonal relationships, then great performances on race day.

That goal was accomplished this season.  On the boys side, the varsity team was heavy with seniors -- all of whom had run for four years.  The expectations were tremendous and early on, before some injuries nagged at the team's health, they did not disappoint.  The teams contested for the first time in school history, the prestigious and large Woodbridge Invitational.  Home to thousands of athletes and hundreds of schools, the Woodbridge Invitational annually runs at night under the lights and brings out many great programs.  King's boys startled many who thought the Wolves would be "good" but not "great".  The boys ran just behind eventual National Champion Great Oak, finishing second.  Tyler Janes finished runner up and debuted his season in grand fashion.  

The boys team had a fine season, ultimately.  From the fireworks of Woodbridge, they were able to weather the storms of the Big 8 League; winning the league despite not winning the last of the two meets.  The team placed very high at the Clovis Invitational and made it to CIF Finals.  There, their season came to an end as they could manage the top 7 finish necessary to go on to State.  Though Tyler Janes would qualify for State as an individual, given the high hopes the team had from the summer months to that point, the accomplishments of Janes were a bit of a let down for a group that counted themselves as friends -- not just teammates -- and had worked very hard to overcome the challenges that had been set before them.

Fortunately, despite the "senior-centric" makeup of the varsity squad, the younger guys were training and improving tremendously, boding well for future seasons.  That group, while not ready for the varsity spots, certainly did great work at the frosh-soph and JV levels and will be in line to continue the success earned this year.

The ladies were young, with a couple of freshmen and a couple of sophomores who made up 4/7ths of the varsity team.  While the boys seemed to get a lot of the attention, the girls kept chipping away at great things and despite the youth and inexperience, were able to finish second in the league behind a very good Roosevelt team and missed qualifying for CIF Finals by just one place.  What was encouraging about the ladies season was that they banded together and really tried to put "grace" into practice.  The ladies were focused on working together and with each other.  They were motivated to not only run and race hard, but also were after those "Great Relationships" the grace theme embodied.  At the CIF preliminaries, the team closed out the season running the third-fastest three mile time in school history.

GRACE.  It's a hard word to grasp and to understand.  It is often a tough concept to put into practice.  But when it comes, it falls like rain on a dry and dusty earth, thirsty for its healing powers.  When it's applied to teams, the outcome is only positive.  In 2015, we feel we got a bit closer to that ideal. 


Tuesday, February 24

The 2014 season saw, for the first time in our history, a full boys team qualify for the State Championships!  It was an historic and honorable run that capped a terrific season.

The concept of "honor" was on the minds of all throughout the season as the coaching staff developed the idea with weekly encouragement to honor our school, our ability, our teammates, our competition and more.   It proved to be an apt metaphor as well for the group of boys who ultimately honored all of the above and made it to the California State Championship.

Led by a committee - the group had 5 different fellahs who finished first for the team - the team approached the season with a "pack attack" that ended up being their trump card.  Without a top-dog that could score in low digits, they relied instead on each other, packing up tightly in the upper third of the field.  To point, at the State meet where they would ultimately finish 8th of 23 Division 1 teams, they scored no runner under 45th place.  It was a scary way to do the job, but it worked mightily for talented group of Juniors and Seniors.

That packing strategy (or reality) actually cost them the league title to Roosevelt, despite running away from the Mustangs by the time the groups toed the line at CIF Finals.  The Big 8 league had come down to essentially a dual meet between the two rivals and in the last two races of the season, Roosevelt nipped the Wolves by one point in each.  Showing maturity, King's seven realized that in a smaller scoring meet, such would be the case, but in a race field three times larger, King would likely find an answer to Roosevelt's strength.  And that's exactly what they did. Slipping through the CIF Preliminaries, the big challenge seemed to be CIF Finals.  Ranked 6th in the Division and 7 spots on the line for a State trip, the Finals become something of a qualifying race for Fresno. The final score was incredibly close and took a while for officials to tally, but in the end, the team finished 6th and punched their ticket to State.

For the girls, the story was a different one with different goals and outcomes.  With a large departing graduating class and fewer newcomers, the team fielded only 18 runners total and more than half were freshmen or sophomores.  Much of the varsity team was made up of rookies or girls new to the varsity level of racing and training.  So there was a lot of learning going on throughout the season.  

Roosevelt's ladies were enjoying a renaissance of sorts, as a team that has historically been weak, came roaring into league with several very talented freshmen and a new purpose and they literally ran away from King's long streak of league dominance.  The King girls scrapped and fought and improved but didn't have enough horses to run with the Mustangs from Roosevelt and finished a distant second in the league.

That was good enough to give them their 16th consecutive trip to the CIF championships where they ran their best race of the season despite the odds stacked against them.  When the scores were compile, the girls finished only 18 points out of qualifying for CIF Finals, and given where the team stood in late August -- young, inexperienced and with little depth -- they certainly showed the mettle and improvement that's been a trademark of King Cross Country since the beginning.

It ended up being an historic season.  A team at State, lots of growth and what we believe was a successful effort at emphasizing an honorable run in all things. 

The Most Valuable Runners for the year were: Tyler Janes, Rolando Phalen and Emily Sanchez 

Tuesday, June 10

The 15th season of King Cross Country began on the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" oration in Washington DC.  With a nod to the great Civil Rights leader and the movement he led, we adopted the words of the anthem of the movement, We Shall Overcome, using the words as inspiration to face the challenges a season presents and find a way to overcome them.

The challenges of course were plenty, but with them came opportunity.  For the boys' team, they returned a lot of talent but little varsity experience, so each race turned into a test of poise, not just pace.  They did well at that at almost every turn. The invitationals brought out many highlights, including fine team performances at the Mt. Carmel invitational and a very fine effort at the Lowell Invitational in San Francisco where they battled against seasoned and perenial powers from northern California and did quite well.  Mt.SAC saw some breakthrough times on an individual level and seemed to lay the groundwork for a bid at CIF Finals in the next month.  The boys' Sophomore team was loaded with all available 10th graders and as they did as Freshmen, they not only won the fastest sophomore heat, but set the course record for team time.  

In the Big 8 League, the team was pressed by the likes of a very fine and deep Corona squad along with a Roosevelt team that boasted a very strong front three.  A very gritty, come from behind race in the first of the three league races brought King a 3 point victory. Led by Rolando Phalen, Mark Werley and Tyler Janes rose to the occassion and were near the front of most of the season's league contests.  The margin of the first meet was reversed in the second meet and the Final saw Corona take the crown, winning by seven points over the Wolves, despite strong efforts.

CIF was a disappointment, as the group wasn't able to muster up the fire and the marks necessary to advance to the Finals, finishing in 6th place, missing the 4th and final spot for qualifying by a large margin.

For the girls, CIF was a different story, as they advanced to the Finals again, something the girls of King have been doing consistently for most of our school's history.  Their placing in the last race brought them an 11th place finish in a race that went out at a torid pace and appeared as if was going to be the girls' undoing.  

To get to Finals, the girls had to cobble together a group that was very uncertain at the outset of the season. Having graduated most of the 2012 varsity squad, the girls were counting on untested FS/JV runners and a couple of newcomers, both of whom were seniors.  Lauren Boydd and Bree Guzman were those two who stepped in and made a big difference.   Ruth Wiggins, who finished her freshman campaign in 2012 as the 7th-fastest JV runner, improved dramatically to lead the Wolves for most of the season, including winning the Big 8 League individual title and MVP. 

The Big 8 league seemed to dip a bit in terms of competitive quality and depth which made the path of growth the girls found themselves on just a bit easier than the boys' had it.  But, that didn't keep the group from racing some terrific races and winning the season's league contests in undefeated fashion, nabbing another league title for the school.  

The invitational season went well for the girls as they finished in first in the Cerritos Cow Run, and then followed it up with a high finish of collective times at Mt. Carmel and taking second at the Lowell Invitational in San Francisco. To cap it off, they finished in 3rd at Mt.SAC in a very loaded "sub-sweepstakes" heat.   So, for a team that started with some big question marks in early summer, they certainly brought together the pieces and team chemistry to make something special happen by season's end.

The team MVP's for 2013 were Rolando Phalen and Ruth Wiggins. 

Wednesday, March 20
Boys vars pack LF 2012

If the 2011 seasons had done anything, it showed the groups of 2012 that there was more to be had.  A hunger was present unlike any in recent memory.

The guys came out of the track season boasting of 21 sub-5:00 milers and internet chatter and rankings that they could be King's first team to make it to the state meet.  But November trips to Fresno are not made solely on the back of a fine Spring campaign and once the summer saw the group weakened by a base-phase that was anything but ideal, the team would try and find it's purpose in the weeks of a very hot September.  

It was so hot in fact, that the first real test of the season - Mt. Carmel melted in temperatures above 100 degrees, shortening the course eventually for the latter half of the meet and making those who did run the full course go much slower than normal. By the first league meet, the temperatures hadn't relented any and neither had the defending Big 8 League champions, Roosevelt, who stormed to a victory and making the message even clearer: You can't run on what "was"  - you've got to do it on what "is".

That wake-up call was enough to kick the guys into reality and the future races -- not to mention training -- was more focused and with greater intensity. At Clovis, the group put together some fine efforts and then came back for the second round of the Big 8.  Hosted by Santiago at a looping, new course, the Jekyl and Hyde nature of 2012 presented itself again as a freak rain storm accompanied by lightning and thunder highlighted a strong performance by the guys to earn the win behind Brandon Berz's race-winning lead. Sure to form though, the up and down group struggled mightily at the Mt.SAC invitational, raising new questions as to whether or not they had what it took to get to the goal.  But  ... you guessed it ... things would swing back around at the League Finals as they capped off a terrific race and with a huge move by Nathan Torres in the last 400 meters to pass three Roosevelt runners, the team took the title by one skinny point, 44-45.  They took that momentum into CIF Prelims and for the first time in three seasons the group would advance to the Finals.  There, they finished 10th overall, the highest season-ending finish any boys team at King has ever accomplished.  While it was short of the goal they had dreamed of, given the "on-again-off-again" nature of their season of training and racing, it was a good finish.

Cruising below the radar of the accomplished group of seniors, was a freshman class that was busily erasing the accomplishments of the 9th graders that had preceded them. They dominated the Cow Run, then came back and won the Mt.Carmel invitational the next week, beating the likes of Dana Hills and Loyola.  On to Huntington Beach where they won again - despite missing Mark Werley who was racing in Clovis at the JV level - and then the final test at Mt.SAC.  Where they won again, finishing an undefeated season!  They were heralded on as the 4th best freshman team in the state and took down a 10 year old course record for team time (freshmen, D1) at Mt.SAC. The group that set that record was Tyler Janes, Mark Werley, Blake Simpson, Michael Robinson and Daniel G. Gonzalez.   It was the most magical of seasons for any group we have ever experienced at King High Cross Country and gives many ample reason to hope for a very bright future for this group should they stay together, continue to train and develop and maintain a coachable spirit along the way.

The girls season was one of redemption as 2011 was a season this group was wanting to forget.  Almost the entire team that had toed the line in '11 was back for '12 and they ran with a greater sense of ugency and purpose. The results followed.  The varsity team would win by 24 points in the first league meet. They were matched by a much-improved JV squad that also got back to winning after a dismall 2011 campaign. The varsity would win again at the Lancer Classic and peformed adequately at the super-competitive Clovis Invite. In the second league meet, the target firmly stitched to their backs again, they were winning until the remarkable happened. The aforementioned lightning and thunder that accompanied this day, got a little too close for comfort as the varsity girls were mid-race and the race was called somewhere just past 2 miles. Everyone scurried for cover and the meet was over. The JV girls had already completed their race with a victory and in that the varsity was in a commanding lead when lightening struck, well, we took it as a sign that the heavens had seen enough. 

The team would continue to show league dominance through the League Finals where they would capture their 11th league title. For good measure, the girls JV won as well allowing King to take home all four league titles on that day.  CIF Prelims would prove to be less than celebratory as they were not able to muster up the energy to compete at the next level.  Raeyln Werley was selected as the team MVP, as were Brandon Berz and Joe Casco. 

Wednesday, March 20
big 8 #2 2011 web collage

The departed graduating class of 2011 meant one thing for the returning teams of 2011:  Rebuild, or move ahead.  With determination, the coaching staff called on the group to not look at the large group of seniors who were no longer there, but instead look at what was present, and what could be. To that end, the theme of the seaosn was, "advance".

Advancing is what the Big 8 seems to do the older it gets, and the opponent teams didn't pause for a moment to put any sympthay King's way after both boys and girls won the leage title in 2010.  The first league meet was a bit of a wake up call as the girls' varsity team lost its first league meet since 2000!  Santiago enjoyed the arrival of several strong freshmen runners and they didn't look back in the first league meet, leaving the girls from King in third place. Welcome to the new normal.  The ladies would battle back in the second cluster meet to finish first by a mere 2 points.  With injuries to Santiago and an always solid Corona squad in there as well, it would leave a three-way tie going into the League Finals ... whoever won that race would win the title.  King ran well and was poised to snag the victory but literally got caught from behind as several Lady Wolves were passed in the final 150 meters of the race and the group lost the league title for the first time in a decade. The final score showed how much though, the team had advanced from that first meet.  Santiago 65, Corona 66 and King 69!  Couldn't have been any closer!

The invitational season was just as much of a "hit and miss" affair for the girls as their league season was. At Mt.Carmel they performed well, but at the first-annual "Lance Classic" (a meet King helped CBU to host) they fell to Granite Hills and ran lackluster despite a lack of deep competition. At the Clovis Invitational, they rose to the challenge of great competition, and while they finished 14th overall in the Championship race, the girls collectively notched some solid PR's for the course.  Two weeks later at Mt.SAC, the group again fell victim to flat performances and recorded an unimpressive performance while recognizing that they had 'more in the tank' than they showed.

By CIF, the girls were appeared to have lost the will to advance, as they couldn't put the mojo on the day, despite running on the very flat rain course after a downpour had gone through Walnut the day before. Raeyln Werley had the best race of the seven and did move on to CIF Finals, where she'd finish in the top 40 the next week.

The boys' teams - while not able to capture a league title - seemed to embrace the notion of "starting over" ... as they fielded only one runner who had run in the top-9 the year prior.  That scenario presented itself as an opportunity to create their own identitty and advance in their own right.  They were youthful and full of "team" and it was an exciting advancement to the program's history.  Like the girls, the boys would be looking at jerseys in front of them when it came to League, as both Corona and Roosevelt fielded strong, veteran-laden squads. King's guys were the story of "the pack" as they were able to race with their five scorers anywhere from 15-25 seconds apart. Absent was the front runner which made scoring low points in large races difficult (this was evidenced at Clovis especially), but when the group crossed the finish line en masse, it was something to behold.  Nathan Torres, Joe Casco, Brandon Berz, Adam Schupp, Tyler Parrish and Nathan Meier were interchangeable parts that rotated their finish order within the pack on a weekly basis and were able to upset Roosevelt for the second-spot in the second of the league meets.  

While that pack was a great weapon -- and really the best one in their arsenal -- it was their demise come CIF Prelims as most teams were able to put 2 runners or more in front of King's number one and that left the group 18 points and one team place out of the Big Dance.

The JV boys welcomed in a dynamic group of freshmen led by Dalton Seckinger who was constantly knocking on the door of the top-seven. The group of freshmen ran undefeated in invitationals until the Mt.SAC invite where they would finish third. They formed the nucleus of the JV team that was the only group from King in 2011 that was able to earn a league title, as the girls JV fielded little depth and couldn't hang with the Corona Panthers.

With the theme in place all year, there had to be some question as to whether or not the team had "advanced" from the season of 2011.  While there were a lot of new players in the group and certainly the outcome of the season was dramatically different from what had transpired in previous seasons. there was still growth.  If nothing more, it came in an understanding of this basic truth: Progress doesn't happen by chance, and to advance one must make choices to do just that.

MVP's - Raelyn Werley and Joe Casco 

Monday, June 13

For most of the past decade, the boys team has operated a bit in the shadows of the girls' success. The girls team has qualified for the CIF Finals or State meet for each of the last ten seasons and during that time the girls amassed an undefeated streak in the league that dates back 11 years!  A hard act to follow for sure, and while the boys' teams of the past haven't been "bad" -- second place in league every year in the same time span plus two league titles -- there was one thing that the boys seemed unable to do that the girls did quite well: qualify for CIF Finals.

All of that changed for the boys this season as they romped through the league losing only one of the league meets (and that, by one point!), claiming the team title, then finally ending the drought by qualifying for the CIF Finals.

The boys were led by Lane Werley who continued to improve from the incredible improvement he had made during 2009.  But while the front runner's exploits were getting national attention, the team behind him was being formed by hard workers and role players who saw the opportunity that the season held out for them and went out and took it.

In the league, the boys were once again faced by a formidable and well coached squad from Corona High School who battled tenaciously in all three cluster meets. What seemed to give King the advantage was a better depth at the 5-9 guys, a group that was interchangable at times and allowed for continued performance when injuries or illness would take one of that group out. After the first league meet was decided by that skinny point in Corona's favor, the boys seemed to regroup and came back stronger and more competitive than ever and won by 20 in the second meet and then clinched their first league title in early November with an 8 point margin, bring the first out-right title to the team since 2004. 

From there, they entered the CIF Preliminaries ranked in the top 10 and held their spot with another solid performance that took them to the CIF Finals for the first time since 2002!  The weekend race saw a storm move in and moved the course to the all-concrete layout that ended being a bit short of three miles. The team didn't run to their potential however and had to settle for 11th place.  Lane Werley captured his second-straight "Runner Up" title, as he finished second to Arcadia's Amar Moussa.  The next weekend he'd take third in the State Championships also for the second year in a row and by doing  so, qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) held in Portland.

It was on a very muddy course in the Portland Meadows race track that Lane found perhaps his greatest race of his season, finishing in sixth place overall and claiming his second All American honor of his career (the first came at the end of the 2010 track season).

For the girls, they continued their decade of success at the league and CIF levels despite a lack of their usual depth. That lack of depth cost the team their first league defeat in 10 seasons, interestingly, by the same one point to the same Corona team as the boys did. Unswayed however, the ladies came back and battled well over the last two league races to win their tenth league title in ten years. Hanna Peterson had a tremendous run through the league races, as she was able to continue the legacy of King girls winning individual league titles despite a much tougher league to compete in. She was pursued by Mariel Mendoza of North and Adriana Olivas of Centennial and the three pitched great battles in all three races, with Hanna ultimately coming out on top each time.

That lack of depth was a bit of a concern going into the CIF rounds but with Hanna winning the prelim race and a solid pack of scorers put the ladies into the Finals for the 9th year in a row. There, under the pouring rain, the team wasn't able to maintain the strength they had enjoyed over the last month or so of the season and finished 12th. Hanna Peterson however enjoyed a solid race and finished 4th overall and qualified for the State meet. While the next weekend's race didn't end as she wished, it capped a terrific year for the senior.

Along the way, the teams enjoyed success at the various invitationals they competed in. The boys set a huge school record team time at the Clovis Invitational, but it was at Mt.SAC where great things happened. Cool temperatures from a storm that hardened the course in the days prior to race day made the meet sparkle with incredible times. Hanna Peterson and Lane Werley both set Riverside County records at the meet with Hanna running an astounding 17:13 (a 45 second PR) and Lane throwing down a 14:35 stunner while leading the boys to a 1:20 improvement on the school record team time. The meet had many spectators shaking their heads in amazement and wondering if there could ever be a sequal to what had happened.  Both of the talented seniors would end their season reaping significant honors; Lane was selected as the Press Enterprise Runner of the Year while both Hanna and Lane earned the County Runners of the year title.  They were also chosen by their teammates as the team MVP's. 

With close to 80 athletes on the roster by the season's end, it was another successful year for King Cross Country. In the ever-present struggle that is the competition of the CIF Southern Section (and, increasingly, the Big 8 League), the teams rose to the challenge and came through with improvement and success.

Monday, April 5


It's hard to quantify or even objectify success. It comes in many shapes and sizes and it shows up differently for different people and different teams.

But while that may be a fun debate to enter into, there's no debating that in many respects, the 2009 season was the most successful season the team has had in a long time, one might even say, ever.

The teams had a nucleus of strong, talented, experienced veterans who brought both their skills and their leadership to the season and it paid off tremendously by the season's end.  That leadership was sorely tested and found true on the boys' side by the time the team had reached the mid-point of the season. Despite a great summer of training and preparation, the group looked flat and in search of itself during the month of September. The work was there, they were just finding it difficult to match their preparation with performance. With a loss to Corona in the first of the Big VIII league matches and lackluster runs at the Bronco and Mt.Carmel Invites, the team came together before the Clovis Invitational and essentially said, "It's now or never." Fielding a lineup of seniors and juniors, the Seven were led by Lane Werley's 15:04 clocking and 5th place finish in the studded seeded race and ran the school's fastest ever 5K team time. The momentum thus established, the group would go on to run well in the remaining league races, ultimately taking second behind Corona and setting another team time record at Mt.SAC. 

Lane Werley had established himself as one of the best XC runners in the State by the time November rolled in, having challenged for invitational vitories, cruised through league and notched "all time lists" kind of marks. But unwilling to allow Lane to carry the team alone, that leadership, led by Derek Nelson and Jarod Nocella continued to press the team, and they entered CIF prelims with strong hopes of advancing to Finals for the first time since 2002. It wasn't to be as they drew the statistically toughest heat for the second year straight and again finished one place out of the dance.

The girls were led by two-time All State runner Kelsi Tippets, but there were a host of question-marks behind her. Would injuries that beset a couple of the team the year prior subside? Would the group be able to absorb a couple of talented freshmen? Would team chemistry be strong enough to carry the team that, by the looks of things on paper in July, was destined to run Thanksgiving weekend? The answers to all questions was: YES.

The league contest proved itself to be another relatively comfortable team victory, the 9th league title in a row for the Ladies from King. The team finished 4th out of all 110 teams entered in the Clovis Invitational, despite most of those who raced that day claiming "less than perfect" races. At Mt. SAC, the team again put together a solid performance, further setting the stage for the goal: November.

After capturing the league title, the team entered into the CIF preliminaries with one goal ... STATE. The Lady Wolves have sent individual competitors in separate seasons, but never a whole team. They came close in 2008, but couldn't put it together at Finals. Such would not be the case in 2009.

With Rebecca Asplund running like never before and Hanna Peterson emerging as one of King's all-time bests during the month, the team was loaded with top-flight harriers. One piece was missing however as the team recognized the obvious gap between the top three and the last two scorers. The race found the answer though, and that answer was Carrie Soholt.  After volunteering to race JV at league finals so a teammate could go varsity, she promptly contracted a groin pull two days later and it cost her a spot on the line at Prelims. In fact, it cost her most of two weeks of training, as she rested and tried not to worry.  Implementing a pre-race plan to perfection to "stay back" to the top of the Switchbacks and start her race there, she steadily moved up through the field, ultimatley finishing 4 seconds off of her PR on the course and scoring third for King in 54th place overall.  She was followed closely by Rebecca Asplund and Aubrey Bowman, both of whom ran lifetime bests for the course and helped the team to a 182 point total, ahead of several teams previously ranked above them. It was as dramatic a race as they come.

Perhaps listed 10th on paper, the group finished 7th. Led by Hanna Peterson and Kelsi Tippets who were both in the top 10 of the race and All-CIF, they had finally found their way to Fresno on Thanksgiving weekend.

The team would race well there at State, finishing 12th overall.   Hanna Peterson again had a stellar race, finishing 12th in Division One, matching the highest finish ever at State by a King runner. She set the school record in the process, going 18:09 for the 5K distance.

It was Lane Werley however, that almost stole the spotlight all by himself! Having finished as the CIF Division One Runner up at the CIF SS Finals the week earlier, he entered the State Final with hopes of a similar finish and a chance at an invitation to the Nike Cross Nationals to be held the next week in Portland, OR. Having racing brilliantly and consistently all season, Lane belted out another incredible race, finishing third overall after moving up from 25th at the mile. His time was 15:10 and he earned All State honors in the process. During the drive back home, the call came in, he had earned a coveted individual spot to the Nike Cross Nationals!

With all expenses paid by Nike, Lane enjoyed a great weekend at the Nike World Headquarters, meeting Olympic and professional runners and hanging with some of the best high school runners from around the country. He'd finish in 25th (out of over 200) that Saturday, racing in 32-degree temperatures. It was an amazing finish to an amazing season for the junior.

Kelsi Tippets and Lane were selected as the team's MVP's and Lane earned Riverside County and The Press Enterprise's "Runner of the Year" honors.

Wednesday, April 8

By the time King Cross Country's tenth season started in mid-July of 2008, many of the returning runners had already been logging consistent and steady miles since November of 2007.  A frustrating end to the '07 season suffered by the boys' team had inspired a number of key returners to take the offseason training and subsequent track season more seriously as prepartion for the 2008 campaign.  Training and racing well in the 6 months between the end of '07 and start of '08, the boys made a public goal of returning to the CIF Finals after several years of not even being in contention. The girls, six years in a row at CIF Finals, and a string of league titles needing two hands to count quietly conceded that a State berth was to their liking. Fit and ready, the first month of July looked more like a mid-race surge than a starting line.

Buoyed by tremendous levels of fitness and a growing stable of talent, the season got off to a tremendous start. The teams traveled out to Ventura for the Seaside Invitational. Despite a poorly staged meet, the racers took advantage of the cool ocean temps and flat course to rip off a bunch of personal and team-time records. It was an auspicious start!

From there the invitational season had many of the familiar stops such as Mt.Carmel, Clovis and Mt.SAC, but sandwiched inbetween was King's first trip to Huntington Beach for the Fountain Valley "Central Park" invitational. It wasn't loaded with topflight teams, but the girls still managed to win the varsity heat and the boys notched a 5th place team finish without running their normal complement of "top 7" runners. The late-September race gave the groups momentum going into the critical month of October.

The teams seemed to being poised for greatness after tremendous accomplishments at the Clovis Invitatational in early October. Both varsity teams shattered the school records for Woodward Park or any other 5K course.  Though their finishing places in the studded "Championship Races" were mid-pack or below, the individual and collective achievements spelled out very good things for the direction the program was headed.  The girls' team time, 95:28 is and was a typical "Top 10" team time at the State Championships held on the very same course in November.

The creation of the "Big VIII" league posed a curious attraction to King's 10th season. With three teams (North, King and Poly) leaving the defunct Ivy League to join the Corona schools in the defunct Mountain View Leauge, the Big VIII presented itself as a league challenge quite different from any of the previous league situations King had faced. The girls would find the going easier than the boys, despite a good Corona squad that made the Lady Wolves keep it honest.  The girls went undefeated all season and Kelsi Tippets earned the inaugural Big VIII League MVP. 

The boys had a deeper pool in which to wade in comparison to recent Ivy years.  Accustomed to having only one strong league team to contend with in the past, the boys faced three proud progams in the Big VIII, led by Corona (the eventual league winner), Roosevelt and Santiago. King would win the first cluster meet by a point over Corona, but ran poorly at the league final, finishing third behind Corona and Roosevelt.

Given the great start of the season and the goals the teams harbored, CIF action was brimming with potential and opportunity. A series of out of control brush fires and high heat in the surrounding communities forced the CIF races at Mt.SAC to be held on a modified 2-mile course layout. Neither team seemed to mind the change, and both groups performed tremendously in the race. The boys finished a disappointing 5th place overall, just 15 points from a spot in the CIF Finals.  Disappointing for sure, but in retrospect an incredible accomplishment. Had the team been seed in the third heat of the day, they would have qualified as the third place team in that race. Likewise, 5th place was a far cry ahead of where they finished the year prior, 12th.

The girls looked like potential state qualifiers in their preliminary round, finishing 2nd and moving on to CIF Finals for the seventh straight season. There they would again run well, though not quite to their potential. Still the team notched 10th place, King's highest-ever finish in CIF Finals, and Kelsi Tippets finished 5th overall and moved on to the State Finals.

With a posse of supporters, reminiscent of Carrisa Bowman's individual trip to the State meet in 2006, Kelsi made a great showing in her first State meet race. She finished 23rd overall, a bit of a personal disappointment, but nonetheless a tremendous effort in a loaded field. 

Kelsi and Lane Werley were voted by their teammates as the team MVP's, while Kelsi earned "Riverside County Athlete of the Year" honors and The Press Enterprises' Runner of the Year award.

At the end of the season, the boys varsity team was honored as the Riverside County Academic Champions with the highest GPA (3.74) of any cross country team in Riveside County.

Sunday, March 2
Dexter church group photo
Posing on the steps of Dexter Ave. Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama
Competition and Community. These were the two goals of the 2007 season. Though they may seem like opposites, opposed to one another, we in fact aimed at both, and by season’s end, we had accomplished them.

Competitively the 2007 campaign was one of the best King has put together. On the boys side, few returning varsity runners were present in June, leaving a lot of questions to be answered by up-and-coming JV and Frosh Soph athletes. Despite the youth and inexperience however, the group really began to jell by late August, and though they took some hits in the scores of early races, by mid-season the team was looking like a team and racing well. The turning point came in the dual against La Sierra when the guys took it to the highly touted Eagles, and though King came away with a loss, the close and spirited battle showed the mettle that would come to define the group. In the end, the team finished second in the league, the JV boys were first, and bowed out of the season with a solid performance at the CIF prelims. Led by MVP Charlie Alvarez, it really was a group effort throughout the season that carved out such noble accomplishments.

The girls continued their impressive streak of victories and strong performances. They were unchallenged in the league season, winning easily in all contests, including their seventh straight league title. Ranked in the top 10 of CIF Division One all season and boasting of team MVP Carissa Bowman and All-State Sophmore Kelsi Tippets, a front-two tandem that was almost unmatched by any team in the Southern Section, the team made it to CIF Finals as expected, this, the sixth year in a row of such a feat. But when the season was on the line and a chance at qualifying for the State meet was in play, it was not to be and the season ended like a fallen house of cards on the final day.

The disappointment of that day did not diminish the power of the season, however. The theme of community governed much of what was done and thought about, as the team endeavored to live out the concept of “The Beloved Community” that Martin Luther King spoke often about while he was alive. Seeking to leave an impact on those around us, the team embraced several opportunities to reach out in love.

The first came from within our team, as one of our own seniors faced in late August the greatest trial of his life: Brain surgery. Patrick Gonzalez, an inspirational team leader, was afflicted with a brain tumor that he endured over the previous three years. When the doctors finally decided it was time to remove the growth, Pat and the team faced the questions and fears that come with any serious operation, and both he and the team came through with flying colors. Pat healed more quickly than predicted, (in fact, he was King’s fastest runner by the season’s end), and the team came through with genuine care and concern for their leader.

On a broader scale, the team participated in two activities to help others in need. Partnering with a local homeless advocacy group, the team donated over 200 pairs of running shoes for the homeless living in Los Angeles. The team also put together a fundraising drive on the final day of the season to raise money for BloodWater:Mission, an organization that works to dig much needed drinking water wells in sub-Saharan Africa. The drive netted over $2,000 for the organization's "1000 Wells Project".

Perhaps the highlight of the season came in mid-October. In order to help bring home the emphasis we placed on the Beloved Community concept of Martin Luther King, the team traveled to the birthplace of Dr. King’s Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s, Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama. For four days, the team traveled to the famed cities and toured the Civil Rights landmarks, such as Dr. King’s home church - Dexter Avenue Baptist Church - the Rosa Parks Museum (which is built on the corner where she was arrested) and Kelley Ingram Park in Birmingham, the site of brutal clashes between protestors and the police during the tumultuous early 1960’s. While there in Alabama, the team also competed in the Great American Cross Country Festival, a great meet that brought teams from across13 states to the same field of competition. In the end, it was a trip of a lifetime, indeed, a Great American, cross country trip.

So the season of 2007 was, in the end, one of the best seasons King XC has ever produced. The campaign was full of amazing accomplishments and growth, populated by great athletes and kids, and thus the teams stretched and pushed and learned and by the close, saw competition and community in a whole new light.

leaders cif prlms2007
Kelsi Tippets, Carissa Bowman and Patrick Gonzalez led the way, 2007 season

group at bridge 2006
The team at the Golden Gate for the Lowell Invitational
Sunday, December 16
Standing at the doorstep of the season in July, one had to surmise that the eighth season of King Cross Country could well be marked by the moniker "brand new." A changing of the guard seemed to be the order of the day, as almost 50% of the roster was made up by rookies. Even the varsity teams, so stacked with returning veterans over the last seasons were up for grabs, as departures and graduations left "job openings" signs firmly posted on the front windows of the program.

The summer months went quickly and successfully despite the learning curve the team's many rookies needed to navigate. Mammoth brought a wonderfully successful and joyful experience, perhaps the best week the program has experience there in a long time. The seniors there capped off the week with a heartfelt night of memories, stories and advice for the handful of newcomers that sprinkled the condominium floor. Those seniors would go on through the remainder of the season to show themselves consistently positive and willing to accept the mantle of responsiblity that comes with leadership.

The racing season got off on the kind of footing that one might expect with so much change and inexperience in the program. But, by late September with a full-team trip to San Francisco for three days and a great race-day experience in the Lowell Invitational at the Golden Gate Park, it was apparent that the team was beginning to create it's own identity and success.

October brought the Ivy League schedule into full view, and King hosted all five of it's meets, including the League Final. For the boys, the combination of a reloaded La Sierra program and their own varsity inexperience made defending our League title especially demanding and ultimately unable. La Sierra would prove to be the dominant force in the league, but King would lose to Poly and then had to cobble together a big team effort to beat Ramona in the last dual to stay eligible for CIF competition. At the League Finals the plucky pack of Wolves (Led by team MVP Matt Cummins) ran a great team effort to finish second overall in the league and qualify for CIF, where one week later they'd finish their season. On the girls' side, the team was buoyed by a host of 9th graders and sophomores who allowed King to "reload" itself, ultimately putting together it's fastest team in history. They were unchallenged at the league level, and behind the great front-running heroics of Carissa Bowman, ran a school record team time at Mt.SAC by the season's end. (She was also voted team MVP for the second year straight) With their youth, they were an exciting bunch to behold.

The season's climax was full of excitement, as the group ran that Mt.SAC SR at CIF Prelims to pull off a stunning upset and qualify for CIF Finals despite being ranked quite low in the heat. Though all five scorers would ultimately earn the Medal of Valor for their efforts that day, freshman Kelsi Tippets shocked with almost a full-minute PR on the course, racing 18:24 and finishing second overall. The following week at Finals, the team finished in 12th (of 16) and just 10 points out of 10th. Carissa Bowman ran an exceptional race there to finish 8th overall and qualify for the State Finals, a first for King's program.

Thanksgiving weekend brought great weather to Fresno, and released from the "pressure" of having to qualify, Carissa ran the best race of her career. She knocked almost a full minute off her course best as well as 30 seconds off the school record. The clock read 18:14 (5K time) as she scampered across the finish line 11th overall and into the waiting arms of almost two-dozen teammates who made the trip to cheer her on. It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful season.

field state 2006
Carissa Bowman competing in the State Finals, she'd finish 11th overall.

Thursday, July 12
Boys clovis champs 2005
From the rollercoaster season of 2004, the '05 season seemed to start on the same track. With the loss of key frontrunners from the girls' squad to turbulent times during the summer with the boys, the competitive season began with some question marks: Would the new teams find their focus? Would they be able to rally behind a singular cause? Would a group of individuals be able to mesh into teams? As the program endeavored to lay the "cornerstones of teamwork" with weekly thematic emphasis on the qualities of teamwork, the answers to the early questions became clear by late September as the teams -- varsity as well as JV -- started to really click and good results came.

For the boys, the launching point came at the Huntington Beach "Fall Classic" on the third weekend of the season. Though their team place was sixth overall, individually there were enough solid performances and a tight packing effort that shed light on the possibilities the group could attain. The league season then began and with it the team made a goal to run undefeated all season, which they did, again eventually beating the class of the league, La Sierra. But it was in the invitational races that the boys varsity truly raised themselves to a level unseen for several years in the King camp. At the Clovis Invitational, they ran a stirring team effort to win the Varsity Large School race, and then two weeks later they came back to set a school record team time at Mt.SAC and win their heat as well. League Finals came two weeks after the hills of SAC, and on a flat course at Canyon Springs, the Pack came through again with a resounding win over La Sierra and Canyon Springs to win their first "unshared" League Title since 1999. The following week the team ran well at CIF Prelims, but came up short in their bid to make the Finals.

The girls continued their streak of CIF Finals berths, though their Final race was far from the phrase, "saving the best for last." Instead, the varsity girls spread their strong races and team efforts over the course of the season and arrived at the finish line a bit out of gas. The league races were easily won, and a fifth-straight league title was earned. The invitational season was equally successful, as the team was able to place in the top rungs of most fields.

A trip to the Morro Bay Invitational began the season with the most unique course the program has ever tread upon. Running through a 100-meter long tunnel of trees and atop the soft sand of the beach beneath the towering Morro Rock, the overnight trip was a success and a picturesque way to start the season. The teams numbered 65 runners by season's end, and the JV squads enjoyed similar competitive success to the varsities. Jeremy Baugus and Carissa Bowman were voted by the team as the team MVP's.

cif finals girls 2004
2004 ran much like any common rollercoaster; full of fun and thrills, highs and lows. Just as the teams began to enjoy the heights of competition, a precipitous drop would follow, only to find the team ascending once again, ultimately coming to a conclusion with remarkable achievements by the two varsity squads.

Much contributed to the ride. King entered a new league, the competitive Ivy, and returned to a dual meet season, last experienced in 2000. The challenge of racing new teams in a one-on-one format made for each week in October to dawn with a sense of uncertainty and unknown. Though the four squads would emerge victorious by season's end, the ride there was anything but smooth, especially for the boys.

A dual with La Sierra opened the league season, and the boys JV and varsity squads put together one of their finest hours, coming away with exciting, and unpredicted wins. La Sierra's JV's fell to a 1-2-3 finish by King's top three runners, and though the Eagles had the same "game over" trio in place in the first half of the varsity contest, the triumvirate fell apart at mile two and all seven of King's harriers went by, taking home an exciting win!

Though pushed by the Poly Bears a week later, the teams would run in winning style all the way to the League Finals in which a reborn La Sierra squad ran with authority, beating King handily and earning a co-title with the Wolves. Still, it was the first league title (albeit shared) for the boys varsity since the 1999 squad.

The girls' teams ran in the same fashion they had grown accustomed to while in the Sunkist league, stretching out a long unbroken line of blue uniforms to victory in most of the meets, winning all but one without being pushed. It was Poly who put a scare in the undefeated streak of the varsity girls, running well while King was off a bit, but the Lady Wolves were able to secure a win with a 1-2-3 placing at the front of the race.

The invitational season had it's share of ups and downs as well. The teams traveled overnight to the fun Mt. Carmel Invitational to run in grade level races, then the varsity took a plane ride to San Francisco to compete in the Stanford Invitational. There, they put together truly fine performances, with top five finishes in the varsity D1 race (boys) and the Championship race (girls). Two weeks later saw disappointing conclusions at the Clovis Invitational. Coming on the heels of the emotional victories against La Sierra, the boys were not able to fire on all cylanders while the girls also found the going rough in Fresno.

CIF dawned with King's first experiences in the strongest of all divisions, D1. For the boys, they saved their finest team race since the La Sierra victory and ran exceptionally well, despite finishing 7th overall in their prelim heat. The girls also ran a great race in a very competitive field and finished fourth, the final qualifying spot for the Finals. One week later, they found themselves in the fastest race in the history of CIF, as Ventura's girls scorched an opening mile to go on and set a new course record for Mt.SAC and win handily. Carissa Bowman and Kristina Moore led the charge for the girls, dropping under 19:00 minutes. They finished 12th overall, a great conclusion to the season.

The teams numbered 85 athletes at the close of the season and the JV teams enjoyed great success throughout the campaign. Kristina Moore was voted the MVP of the girls team and John Ashley earned the same honor for the boys' team.

The cross country teams of King High had somewhat of a rebirth in 2003, as almost 15 seniors graduated from the ranks, a number of other underclassmen went their own ways and a tidal wave of freshmen and rookies swelled the numbers. Though now in their fifth season and no longer able to proclaim the moniker of being "a new school", the Wolf Pack looked a bit like the earlier days; young and inexperienced.

One didn't have to look much further than the varsity boys squad which boasted 5 sophomores among the top eight, none of whom had ever run varsity before. Two of the weekly frontrunners, David Galante and John Ashley were outright rookies, while occassional lead guy (number one King runner at CIF Prelims) Adam Schwarz was in his first ever season of varsity racing after two years of labor in the JV and FS ranks.

The youth and inexperience played a toll at times, yet at other occassions the group raced with the poise and heart of more seasoned squads. At the prestigious Stanford Invitational in late-September, the group toed the line with some of the more powerpacked teams in the West and raced well to a 10th place finish. They followed that up just two weeks later with a remarkable third place finish at Clovis, again amidst some of the best teams in the State. It was at the Sunkist League Finals however, that the team had their moment of glory. After punishing losses to Rubidoux over the previous three years and having already lost twice to the Falcons earlier in the season, the cards looked stacked against them. That didn't stop the group from really shining and they put together one of the finest team efforts and all-out races in King High history, ultimately finishing in second ... but by a mere 9 points. David Galante led the way with a second-place finish, the highest place at the Sunkist League Finals any King runner has finished. The team went to CIF Prelims and bowed out gracefully in 7th place.

The girls were a little different story than the boys, but were still just as young, fielding two freshmen in the top 7 by the end of the season. Megan Fairley and Kristina Moore led the charge on race day and the group was able to put together a fine string of races in both league and open competition. At the Stanford Invitational, the team had one of their finest races of the year, placing sixth overall and earning for the first time in school history a mid-season State ranking for their efforts. They mimicked that finish two weeks later in the highly competitive "Championship" race at Clovis, again finishing in sixth. They would go on to easily handle the Sunkist League, sweeping the top three places at Finals and winning for the third year in a row. Megan Fairley captured the League MVP honor, winning the League Finals race. The team competed for the second time in four years at CIF Finals, finishing 13th.

Beyond the string of victories and high finishes however, the 2003 season may well be the season that taught its greatest lessons to the ladies in terms of accentuating the impact that team work and team chemistry can have on race performances.

The youthful JV squads of 2003 were an exciting bunch. Almost two-dozen freshmen on the team made the group unpredictable and precocious and always fun to watch. The grade-level races at Fastback, Sunny Hills, Bell Gardens and Mt.SAC saw the Wolves place runners consistently in the top finishers and cast a bright light on the future of the program. The JV boys beat Rubidoux in the second of two league meets but lost to them in the Final; while the girls were undefeated in the league from start to finish.

David Galante, Adam Schwarz and Megan Fairley were voted the teams' Most Valuable Runners though their individual honors did not obscure the reality that their team's successes and failures were a team effort through and through.

boys pose after qualifying
King High's fourth season of cross country was an exciting campaign that brought many positive changes to the program as well as phenomenal achievements by individuals as well as the teams collectively. The coaching staff grew by two, adding Coaches Masi and Janes, both of whom brought competitive running experience to the mix. Likewise, the season brought along a number of new runners, swelling the total number of King harriers to over 85 by season's end.

Competitively, the season went remarkably well, as the squads scored high in every one of the invitationals we entered, including four of five wins at the Huntington Beach Invitational, a "team best time" at the Ojai Invite, a couple of victories at MSAC and strong performances at Clovis by the Varsity and JV teams. The teams traveled twice this season, with the first trip traveling up the coast a bit to visit the Ojai Invitational in Ventura. Later in October we traveled to Fresno for the first time, taking 32 athletes to the famed Clovis Invitational. Both journeys were successful adventures.

In the Sunkist League, the teams ran strong all season. The girls never lost a meet, winning handily at both the JV and Varsity levels. The boys JV won the first two all-league meets, but lost to Rubidoux in the final, while the Varsity boys lost three straight times to the powerhouse Rubidoux squad, who would later go on to win CIF and place second at State. Despite the losses, the boys ran consistently faster team-times than they did the year prior, unfortunately coming up short to the Falcons of Rubidoux who were doing likewise! Both the boys and girls varsity teams qualified for CIF Finals in Division Two, and ended the season ranked 15th and 20th in the State in their division.

Individually, the season was full of wonderful stories in accomplishment. Megan Fairley (JR) would run a storybook season after suffering through numerous hardships in 2001, consistently racing 3:00 faster per course and ending up as the team's MVP. Garret Allen led the charge for the boys and was voted the team MVP. The sight of 30+ freshmen and rookies making their way successfully through their first season was a sight to behold, and it paved the way for future success for the program. All told, it was indeed a great season.

girls varsity at LF 01
The tottering first steps of the girls cross country team in 1999 seemed like a long way from the confident strides the ladies took in 2001. As more numbers joined the party, and as more girls committed themselves to training well and behaving like a team, the girls varsity and JV teams won the Sunkist League titles for the first time. For the JV squad, it was an undefeated season in which most of the dual meets saw a King sweep. The varsity girls lost a close dual meet to Norte Vista, but then came back one week later at the Sunkist League Finals with a thrilling 6th-place-tiebreaking-win to seal the co-championship with the Braves. It was an exciting climax (Tawny Odekirk captured the individual title as well) to what was a great season.

The boys continued to amaze with their dramatic improvement from week-to-week and especially from the prior season. Simply put, both the JV and Varsity teams were minutes ahead of their team times from 2000. Despite that improvement however, the guys found themselves on the losing end to a powerful and talented Rubidoux program which won both league titles, and would later go on to win CIF D2 and the State Championship. Behind such talent, the boys' accomplishments took on different meaning.

All season long, the teams displayed the character of an established program, despite the fact that they were still experiencing some of the growing pains unique to younger schools. The team had a full and rewarding second week in Mammoth during August, and then in early September traveled to the Great American Cross Country Festival in Golden Gate Park of San Francisco. The weekend would prove to be a highlight of the year, with a night out on the town seeing the historic sights and participation in a national meet. The Boys JV won their divisional race.

The teams competed well at several other invitationals, such as the Huntington Beach Invitational, Mt.SAC (where the boys' JV won their race) and Bell Gardens where personal records dropped by the dozens.

By CIF, both the boys and girls were ranked in division three, but were moved up to Division two just three weeks prior to the race. Despite the bump up in competition, the teams readied themselves for a shot at CIF Finals. Tough heats proved to be a major obstacle however, as both the boys and girls ran huge school record team times for the Mt.SAC course (and were both three minutes ahead of their Prelim 2001 times) but failed to qualify. In each case, the team finished in fifth, one place out of an automatic berth in the Final. The girls finished the season ranked 29th in the state. Jon MacLaughlin and Tawny Odekirk were selected as the teams' Most Valuable Athletes, and Tawny was chosen as the Sunkist League MVP.

1999 - The Hunt Begins

King Cross Country began in the parking lot of Earhart Junior High in August of 1999. About 35 runners showed up, mostly boys. That first morning few could successfully complete a mile run without walking. But with hard work, a willingness to try and to improve, the teams grew in ability and strength, and by the end of the season were highly successful.

Despite having a team made up of primarily freshmen and a few sophomores, both boys and girls teams ran a varsity schedule. Though results were not always great in the early-going, as the weeks progressed, the teams improved. Competition in the Arrowhead League was stiff, with good teams from Sherman Indian and Boys Republic challenging the young King runners.

The boys captured much of the spotlight by winning the Arrowhead League title, despite their youth and inexperience. The varsity team then went on to qualify for CIF Finals and finished 12th, ranked 20th overall in the State, Division Five.

The girls' team was led by Tawny Odekirk and Laura Fairley, and despite not having a full scoring team at League Finals, the girls still finished the season fourth in the league. Tawny Odekirk qualified for CIF Prelims.

Maclaughlin Lacour mtsac
With over half of the original team's numbers bowing out to the realization that they were more curious about cross country than committed, the team returned less than 25 of its original numbers in the second season. However, growth continued, with the total numbers topping out at 55 runners by season's end. Those runners changed the atmosphere of King Cross Country into one of enthusiasm, commitment and a devotion to success.

The season, therefore, followed suit. The team traveled for the first time to Mammoth Lakes, CA, for a week of high-altitude training and team bonding. The week saw the team doing twice-daily workouts and a day spent swinging in the trees in a Ropes-Challenge Course.

Once the season began, changes were evident. The teams competed with greater concentration and perseverance than in the first season, while challenging themselves at bigger invitationals. The squads traveled overnight to the Mt.Carmel invitational in mid-September and held their own in the grade-level competitions. We christened the Huntington Beach 1st Annual Invitational and brought home team as well as individual awards.

It was the league races, however, that witnessed the greatest transformation for King Cross. Both the boys and girls teams ran undefeated all season until the last dual against Rubidoux. Though the boys met up with a very talented group of Falcons and lost, the girls fought nobly and missed winning a close race. The next week at League Finals, the girls ran their best races of the season but again got narrowly beat by Rubidoux. They qualified for CIF-Division Three nonetheless by finishing in second. The boys faltered in the final league race, finishing fourth, but maintained their CIF berth on the strength of their season record.

CIF Prelims saw both teams gather themselves for what would be their best performances of the season. Both groups of seven ran all out in what looked like on paper to be a "do-or-die" situation. Run well ... go to Finals. Run poorly ... go home. Both teams went to Finals. For the girls, it was the culmination of a goal they determined themselves to on the fourth night of Mammoth.

Spent from their emotional efforts the week prior, the teams appeared a bit flat at Finals, but still managed to finish 12th overall, and only a handful of points out of 10th. A remarkable ending to a successful second season.

Angella Nanyonyi was voted the Most Valuable Runner for the girls' team, and Jonathon MacLaughlin was the boys' choice for Most Valuable Runner.


King Cross Country


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