By Ty Pimienta, reporting intern
It was a year of firsts for the Spanish Springs boys cross country team.
The Cougars won their first league title. They finished third at last week’s regional meet–their highest finish ever. And on Saturday, they finished second in their first time running in the state meet.
“First time ever in our school history that my boys team qualified for state and we were state runner up. Absolutely incredible,” Spanish Springs coach Ron Cross said. “The kids raced it today, every one of them. They showed commitment, dedication and confidence.”
Spanish Springs improved upon its regional time by 81 seconds to take second at San Rafael Regional Park with an average time of 17:39 between its top five finishers. McQueen won the team state title with an average time of 17:25.
Sophomore Andrew Ribeiro finished 10th with a time of 17:22 to lead the Cougs. Ribeiro was followed by teammates Daniel Horner (11th, 17:24), Matthew Hakin (14th, 17:34), Hunter Beadell (22nd, 17:52) and Joshua Rodriguez (32nd, 18:03).
“It felt really good because I’ve put in a lot of work this summer, I was happy that me and Daniel were really close and it felt really good,” Ribeiro said.
Cross said the team’s success stemmed from an activity in August.
“We did a team bonding camp early in the season in the summer, and it was the best thing that we could’ve done,” Cross said. “Because they bonded, they became friends and they pushed each other in a positive way.”
Spanish Springs assistant coach Rhonda Beadell obviously joined Cross in celebrating the second-place finish.
“I’m ecstatic, are you kidding me?” Beadell said. “Nobody had any expectations of us and we knew that these boys had the heart and the motivation unlike any other team I think here today and they showed it.”
After finishing third at regionals, Spanish Springs’ goal was to match that finish at state. Expectations surpassed.
“It’s a huge accomplishment, I’m so proud of all of our guys, we did amazing,” Spanish Springs captain, Rodriguez, said. “We did this in one season, just building the guys up, 24 weeks of straight up training and it’s a great year.”
Horner said he always felt the team had potential.
“Our team, one of the things that we’ve done this year, one of our cheers was ‘We are dangerous’ and that is definitely true today,” Horner said. “We just came so far and this is the first time we’ve ever made it to state and ever placed in state, it makes me happy.”
The other squad from Sparks, Reed, did not qualify for state as a team but sent two runners who qualified at regionals last week.
Junior Anthony Ocegueda finished fifth with an overall time of 17:10 and Ammon Jorgensen finished eighth with a time of 17:16.
“It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but hey, getting a medal and fifth place at state? I can’t argue with that,” Ocegueda said.
Said Reed coach Ryan Ress: “It’s just great to see them come so far. You’ve got Anthony that had a bad race (at regionals) last year and didn’t make it to state and Ammon, who finished in a mediocre 29th place. So for both of those runners to come in fifth and eighth overall, it’s just what every coach could hope for.”
McQueen’s Henry Weisberg won the individual state title with a time of 16:31.
In the girls race, neither Reed or Spanish Springs qualified as a team but a runner from both squads competed after strong showings at regionals.
Reed junior Samantha King-Shaw finished third overall with a time of 20:09–thirty second behind state champion, Karina Haymore, of Centennial.
Spanish Springs senior Lauryn Massic finished 15th with a time of 20:43.
Centennial won the team state title with an average time of 20:27–37 seconds better than runner-up