FRESNO — They made their master plan work.

With their racing and their training, the Santa Ynez boys cross country team's runners had geared themselves all season toward an optimal showing at the CIF State Cross Country Championships. Their work paid off Saturday when they won the Division IV state championship.

"Not only is this the first time a Santa Ynez boys cross country team has won a state championship, it is the first state championship of any kind in the 115-year history of the school," Santa Ynez coach David Jackson said by phone.

Santa Ynez out-scored second-place La Puente Bishop Amat 130-150. The meet took place at historic Woodward Park. Runners competed on a 5K course.

Los Padres League individual champion Johnny Jimenez led the Pirates to the title. He finished 10th overall, in 15 minutes, 41.9 seconds. His placing was good enough for six points toward the team scoring.

"Right after the race, we knew we had finished first or second but we weren't sure which, so there was some tension there," said junior Tommy Hill, who was Santa Ynez's third runner to finish.

Now that he knows his team is a state champion, "It's total bliss," Hill said.

Santa Ynez's runners Saturday, in order of finish, were Jimenez, Brian Illes, Tommy Hill, Grehson Smith, Cody Hill (Tommy's twin brother), Eric Moniot and Dennis Rojas. The Pirates' first five runners scored.

The Pirates won the Santa Barbara County and Los Padres League titles earlier in the season. Saturday, they defeated both teams that finished ahead of them at the sectional finals, Southern Section champ North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake and Ventura Foothill Technology, handily.

Foothill Technology finished fifth with 170 points Saturday. Harvard-Westlake was sixth with 180.     

Arroyo Grande senior Leza Cassidy, Lompoc junior Isaac Acosta and Orcutt Academy junior Daniel Ordonez all finished in the top 25 percent in their respective races Saturday.

Cassidy and Acosta garnered top-25 finishes. Cassidy, who has won the PAC 8 League girls individual title the last two years, finished 18th, in 18:15.0 in the Girls Division II race. Acosta placed 25th, in 16:07.4, in Boys Division IV.

Ordonez finished 50th, in 16:48.9, in Boys Division V.

Cassidy was in her third state meet. Acosta and Ordonez ran at the state meet for the first time.

Gillian Meeks of Palo Alto Gunn won the Girls Division II race in 17:16.0. Cooper Teare of Alameda-based St. Joseph Notre Dame and Jack Van Scoter of state champion La Canada Flintridge Prep both finished in 15:07.3 in the Boys Division V race, but Teare won.

Southern Section individual champion Andrew Burkhardt of Gardena Serra won the Boys Division IV race at the state meet in 15:08.5.

Illes, Tommy Hill and Smith, Santa Ynez's two-through-four runners, helped deliver the state championship to the Pirates.

They out-scored their Bishop Amat counterparts by a combined 60-92. Illes was 10th for team scoring, Tommy Hill 19th and Smith 31st. The three finished 14th, 29th and 49th overall respectively.

Cody Hill (64th overall) was 49th for team scoring. Moniot and Rojas finished 109th and 116th overall respectively.

"As a coach, hearing the guys talk so boldly is fantastic," said Jackson.

"They weren't saying they might be able to do it, or they hoped they would do it. They knew they could win a state championship, and they went out and did it."

The appearance was the second one in the state cross country championships for the Santa Ynez boys. The 2013 squad, under former coach and current Santa Maria athletic director Brian Wallace, went to the state meet.

San Luis Obispo junior Callum Bolger was the Division III Boys runner-up. He finished in 15:12.3. Austin Tamago of team champion Brea Olinda won in 14:45.9. The Paso Robles boys finished third with 133 points.

Brea Olinda edged runner-up Baldwin Park 86-87.

All of the Santa Ynez runners who competed Saturday, except for the Hills, are seniors.   


Sports Reporter