West Ranch boys finish second, girls ninth at CIF State Cross Country Championships


Arriving in Fresno a day earlier, the West Ranch boys and girls cross-country teams were ready for the CIF State Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park on Saturday.

With temperatures in the low 50’s and upper 40’s to begin the races, the weather didn’t play too much of a factor as both teams were able to execute their game plans. The boys team took home the second-place trophy while the girls team finished inside the top 10 and settled in at ninth in Division 1.

“It wasn’t as bad as we anticipated,” said West Ranch’s Isaiah Seidman. “We thought it was going to be colder and muddier, but that wasn’t the case so we are grateful that the conditions weren’t as extreme.

“We came out here early on Friday and checked out the course,” said West Ranch’s Dylan Gatua. “We prepared and we prepared well as a team.”

Evan Bates had the best finish of any Santa Clarita Valley runner at the state meet, finishing in second place — just 1.3 seconds behind the first-place finisher — clocking in a time of 15 minutes, 05.3 seconds.

“I wasn’t really expecting that,” Bates said. “I was just trying to finish well for my team and it ended up going well.”

Running alongside teammate Isaiah Seidman, the pair of Wildcats pushed each other as they headed into the final stretch.

Bates eventually passed Seidman and was able to capture second place while Seidman finished fourth with a time of 15:10.4.

Sophomore Dylan Gatua was the third top finisher for the boys team, clocking a time of 15:23.7 seconds for 14th place. Hunter Romaine finished in 18th-place.

On the day, West Ranch had four of its runners finish 18th or better and five of their runners finish within the top 40 in the Division 1 race.

With the second-place team finish, the West Ranch boys team qualifies for next week’s Nike Cross Nationals at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, Dec. 1.

Facing a little bit of adversity to begin the race, a couple of the girls fell at the starting line, but regrouped and were able to finish within the top 10 as a team.

Freshman Alexis Fernandez led the Wildcats girls team, placing 20th with a time of 18:18.1 while junior Abigail Welch followed with the second-best time for the Wildcats at 19:03.6.

Sophia Hoelzel and Hayde Washington finished in 19:12.1 and 19:46.0, respectively.

“This program is so strong. The boys did incredible finishing in second place and the girls especially, even though a couple of us fell at the start, they still got up and we still did really well.”

Overall the girls team finished with a team average of 19:16 seconds.

“I’m still in shock,” said West Ranch coach Sara Soltani. “I want them to enjoy the moment. It’s their moment. They did it.”

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