By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Hart Indians boys’ cross-country team represented the Foothill League as the only team to qualify and compete in the state finals meet on Saturday at Woodward Park, in Clovis.
The Indians finished 11th overall as a team in the Division 2 race with a team time of 1:22:14, just 20 seconds behind the 10th-place spot. The Indians didn’t finish where they wanted, with the goal from the beginning of the season to place on the podium, but head coach Darren James is grateful for the experience his team got.
“It was a good performance for us regardless of where we finished,” said James. “We haven’t been to the state meet in 10 years. I think we’re gonna have an even stronger season next year. It was good for them to run on the big stage like that. This was the culmination of a lot of work to build a championship culture. I’m proud of these guys for getting together, but I want this to be the first of many.”
The Indians were led by Owen Ahten, who finished with a time of 15:54.2, good enough for 23rd overall. Carson DeSpain finished 75th overall with a time of 16:29.1. Paul Mangione finished 79th overall with a time of 16:31.8. Zachary Chan finished 86th overall with a time of 16:37.7 and Nathaniel Branda finished 92nd overall with a time of 16:41.0 to round out the qualifying scores for the Indians.
“It felt great to reach our goal that we wanted to get to since the beginning of the season,” said Ahten. “Our goal was to podium at the meet, but we weren’t able to do that. The goal is to make this an annual event and I look forward to coming back here again next season. It was exciting to race with my brother in the same race so I look forward to racing again next season.”