- Yana Artemov
Tesoro Cross Country's Impressive CIF State Journey
Tesoro’s boys cross country team made the school proud this season, finishing seventh at CIF Division II State Championships, and as the 21st best team in the state.
The first round of CIF Finals, CIF Prelims took place Saturday November 12 at Mt. SAC, one of the most storied cross country courses in the nation, and our runners did what they needed to do to make it to the next round. Running conservatively to be better prepared for the second round of CIF Finals the next weekend, the boys team finished third in their heat and the girls team in fifth place out of the 13 other schools that came.
In the first round of CIF everyone did a solid job with their times, but Sophomore Griffin Kushen really pulled through. Sitting behind a pack according to Coach Phelps’ instruction, Kushen eventually passed and pulled away from the pack in the last mile, winning the race individually. Though Casey Goestchel, the number two man throughout the season, struggled much further back than he had expected, he was recovering from illness and ready to bounce back in the later rounds. Our girls team, even when battling injuries, was able to advance to CIF Finals. It was a bit of a toss-up for the girls' heat on whether they would advance or not, but they pulled through.
Moving forward, Tesoro’s cross country team faced a tough battle at CIF Finals. The girls team, missing two of their top seven runners late in the season due to injury, hit the end of the road at Mt. SAC. The boys team, however, rebounded from previous midseason struggles and returned to their early season form finishing fourth, only needing a top seven finish to advance.
Kushen’s impressive eighth place finish, as the fastest sophomore in the race with an impressive 15:14 on the difficult three-mile course and second in Tesoro history to only his older brother Sander Kushen, was not enough to advance on its own. Casey Goetschel, Max Dailey, and Kaleb McElfish pushed together as a team, finishing 32, 33, and 34 respectively.
Returning to Woodward Park in Clovis for the CIF California State Championships for the first time in eight years, the Tesoro boys were excited to show what they were made of in the race. Throughout the postseason, former scorers Cameron Pastorkovich and Conor Campion were sidelined by sickness and injury, but Senior Lawrence Buhain and Sophomore Ryan McNamara stepped up into their new roles. Immediately prior to the race, Chase Manning, the fastest freshman in Tesoro school history and number five man, twisted his ankle and was unable to race. Sophomore Parker Wolfe took his place on late notice, significantly improving his 5k personal record.
Despite injuries, running an extremely composed race, the boys moved up the pack mile after mile, finishing seventh in Division II. Kushen finished in 14th, Goestchel in 33rd, Dailey in 40th, McElfish in 75th, and Buhain in 121st rounding out the top five. When all divisions were merged together, the Titans finished 21st of the 118 teams that advanced to the state level, a number that could have been even better without Manning’s fluke injury.
Tesoro boys cross country made our school proud and are ready to improve upon this year's finish in the coming years. While the Titans will greatly miss the contributions of the four seniors on varsity (Goestchel, Dailey, McElfish, and Buhain), four of the postseason runners were underclassmen, including school record holder Kushen.
Freshman Amber Dazey, Junior Paige Hartzog, Sophomore Elena Popov, Sophomore Lily Garcia, and Freshman Brooke Dazey all return to race for the Titans girls varsity squad next year and set the program up well for a strong next few years.
Look out for Tesoro Cross Country to dominate the distance events this track season and come back even stronger next year!