The Yreka Miners boys cross country team is bringing back another state title to Siskiyou County.
Yreka took first overall in Division 4 with 102 points at the CIF State Championships in Fresno, Calif., late Saturday morning. The Miners also won it all in 2011 for the boys' squad's first CIF XC State title in school history. Yreka finished the race on Saturday with the 10th all-time best Division 4 time at State with a time of 82:06.
The Yreka boys came in 10th place last season.
"The kids are so excited," Yreka head coach Pam Borg said about earning another title. "It's fantastic."
Competing against schools from much larger areas, the Miners of Yreka showed that despite their far-flung location, they're from a school that produces quality cross country teams.
Borg said that the team ran a terrific race and had the lead pretty much from the start.
"The boys just worked that last mile," she said. "The boys raced the entire time like they really wanted (the title)."
Laguna Beach from Orange County came in second with 148 points and Salesian of Los Angeles came in third with 149 points.
Yreka came into the CIF Championships ranked 1st overall in D4 heading into State, a spot they had held all season.
Yreka senior Clayton Bunn finished 6th overall in D4 out of 197 runners with a time of 15:45. It was the third best ever time by a Miner boy runner at state, Borg said. Junior Matt Jochim also ran a superb race, Borg said, and came in 13th with a time of 16:08. David Neill finished 25th with a time of 16:26. Jacob Hill was 54th with a time of 16:49. Cody Griffith had a time of 16:56 to place 63rd. Brenden Berry was 112th with a time of 17:34 and Kevin Williams finished with a time of 10:95 to come in 149th.
Bunn said it was a special feeling to win state for the second time.
"Words can't describe how awesome it feels," he said.
Three of the runners – Bunn, Neill and Griffith – all seniors, were on the XC team that won it all in 2011.
Coming into State, Yreka had its sights set on placing in the top 3. While the Miners had the top spot in D4 all season long, Borg said they knew coming in how tough the competition would be.
She added that every boy who raced on Saturday and competed in Fresno before ran their best time on the course.
Last year's 10th place finish, while a good showing, was something that motivated Yreka this year. Borg said the expectations were high to finish higher after taking the title the year before and it was a disappointment when they placed lower than they had hoped for.
Bunn admitted it was a "big letdown" for the team and he and the rest of the squad worked "very hard" this season to make sure they were ready when State came around again. A key, Bunn said "was that we didn't let it get to our heads that we were ranked No. 1"
As Borg kept telling the team all season, the rankings were just words on a piece of paper and they had to prove it on the course when the time came. Bunn said the team remained focused on the task at hand, did not get distracted and kept working hard to achieve its goal of a CIF CD 4 title.
It was a special moment, Bunn said, when they found out they were the best team in Division 4 in the entire state of California.
"We were just jumping for joy," Bunn said. "We had a big, joyful huddle."
With all but two runners back from last year's top 7 racers, Borg said that they were an experienced team that had the determination to push themselves to achieve their goals.
The problem during State last season, Borg said, was the team started too quickly and did not pace themselves correctly. The squad worked hard during the offseason and throughout this year to make sure this issue would not happen again. Mission accomplished.
Borg said winning on Saturday "was all about our pacing," and running a smart race.
Shortly before the race began on Saturday, junior alternative Kevin Williams found out a decision was made that another runner would not compete for Yreka and he had to fill in.
Williams said it came as a "total shock" to him. While a bit nervous, he knew he just had to race the way he knew he was capable of racing. He certainly did that as he set a personal best time of 18:06 and played a key part in helping his team to a CIF D4 title.
"It was exciting to be a part of," Williams said. "I didn't expect to be racing at all but I was ready to run like I was supposed to."
"He really stepped up," Borg said. "He's been working hard all season."