After hundreds, maybe thousands of miles ran during this cross-country season, all the hard work has paid off for Canyon High School’s Ethan Danforth and the West Ranch boys cross-country team as they will be competing on the national stage at the Nike Cross Nationals at the Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Ore. later today. Qualifying for Nike Cross Nationals, or NXN, with a second-place finish at CIF State Cross-Country Championships, Danforth is the lone individual runner out of the Santa Clarita Valley and only Canyon representative, but is prepared for the challenge as was his M.O. the whole season. “My thoughts lately have just been that I’m here for a reason,” Danforth said via text message. “…and that anyone here is capable of taking home that national champion title. Including me.” Danforth is joined by Liam Anderson (Redwood), Matt Strangio (Jesuit), Kevin Ramos (Rubidoux) and Loic Scomparin (Dublin) to round out the California Automatic Individual Qualifiers. Anderson, a two-time CIF-State Division III champion, came in third-place at NXN just a year ago. Strangio won the CIF-State Division I title while Ramos was runner-up behind Anderson in Division III at state. “Well, I’m expecting the race to be an all-out war and you can expect me to leave everything I have on that course,” Danforth said. One of two boys teams to qualify for the national meet from California, West Ranch boys blazed through the state meet placing second behind Great Oak, setting the sixth fastest time in the state meet and the fastest team time in Santa Clarita Valley history with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes and five seconds. Throughout the year, Evan Bates, Isaiah Seidman, Dylan Gatua, Hunter Romine, Alexis Romero, Jonathan McDaniel and Brandon Arana developed a bond and relationship that is unrivaled by any boys team. “A whole new set of guys came in who were very competitive,” Seidman said after the state meet. “A more loving attitude towards the sport and better chemistry all around. Everyone just loves each other and wants to run for each other. This group has really bonded and I know that 10 or 15 years down the road I will still be hitting them up to grab lunch or something. I know the bond will be there for a very long time. ” The Wildcats are joined by the other Great Oak, the other California automatic team qualifier and the Division I boys winner at the state meet, Newbury Park XC Club (CA), Highlands Ranch XC Club (CO), South Spokane XC Club (WA) and La Costa XC Club (CA). It won’t be easy, but just like they have done up until this point, the team will run for each other. “I want people to remember us as underdogs that never lost hope,” Gatua said. “I think we were counted out most of the season and I think we overcame all the trials and tribulations and pushed ourselves to the limit and got great results.” “We knew we had something, but we knew we had to perform,” Bates said. “Just competing and showing what we could do because we knew we had potential and we knew we could be mentioned among the among the nations best, we just had to prove it to everyone.” The boys race starts at 11:35 a.m.