Bearcats making history: Boys cross country qualifies for 2017 CIF State Championship

RIVERSIDE — After months of being overlooked while running on the hot, dusty paved streets of Paso Robles every afternoon, the boys cross country team has accomplished something that no other team has: The Bearcats are going to State for Division 2.

Two weeks ago the Bearcats won their fourth straight PAC 8 League title, last week the Bearcats qualified as the first overall team in Prelims and this past weekend they qualified for State by placing fifth in CIF finals.

The team of Pablo Cortes, Ian Young, Steven Scruggs, Damian Gavilan, Alejandro Ruiz  and Jason Scruggs finished Saturday afternoon’s three-mile course with a score of 194 points, placing them in fifth and qualifying them for the 2017 CIF State Cross Country Championships next weekend. The boys will race on Saturday in Woodward Park for a chance at a State title.

The boys team has raced in Woodward Park twice this season in preparation for the State meet and performed well in both. On Sept. 22, the boys won the Golden Eagle Cross Country Invitational and on Oct. 7 they competed in the Clovis Invitational and finished second overall.

Even better news for the Bearcats is that their racing times improved from the first race to the second. Cortes shaved .22 seconds off of his race when he ran Woodward Park a second time in the Clovis Invitational, Gavilan dropped his time by an astounding .39 seconds and Young even lowered his time by four seconds.

On Saturday, the Bearcats made the five-hour journey to Riverside for the second consecutive weekend for CIF finals and left with a ticket punched to State. The boys finished fifth overall scoring 194 points.

Junior standout Cortes pushed the pace for the ‘Cats as he has each and every single race this year. He finished in first for Paso Robles and 26th overall with a time of 15:33.  Steven Scruggs crossed the finish line next in 38th place with a time of 15:48 followed closely by two teammates Young and Gavilan that finished just a few tenths of a seconds after each other.

The Bearcats held 8th place at the halfway point in the race but were able to move into 5th largely due to the tremendous effort by Young. According to coach Jon-Paul Ewing, Young picked up 37 places in the last mile.

Young ended up crossing the finish line with a time of 15:50.5 while Gavilan finished with a time of 15:50.7, according to Michael Hernandez rounded out the top five for the Bearcats, finishing in 66th with a time of 16:04.

Sophomore Alejandro Ruiz and freshman Jason Scruggs also finished their race together coming in at 16:36.2 and 16:36.3 respectively.

The Bearcats have qualified for State five times as a Division 3 school, but this is the first time in Paso Robles history a cross country team has qualified for State in the bigger Division 2.

The cross country team will practice every day this week, even on Thanksgiving. The players and coaches all told their families to prepare for practices over the holidays back in June and are driven to keep pushing themselves until this magnificent season comes to an end.


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