“We were a little mad” said senior runner, Garrett Vasta, when asked by the local media about the boys’ varsity 2nd place finish in league, separated by just 3 points from Roosevelt. “That was our goal coming in, to win league.”

The narrow loss was not without great effort nor excellence as the King harriers ran an incredible effort to push the defending champs all the way to the finish line. King was up by 4 points with a mile to go, but the Mustangs closed with a superior last mile, forced upon them by the pack of Wolves that ran hungry.

King’s great race, while not a “winning” effort, still sizzled with quality. Garrett Vasta was third overall in one of his finest races. As a group, the scoring five of Vasta, Mitchell Machuca, Austin Fortenberry, Edgar Ortega and Francisco Zavaleta were collectively 3:42 seconds faster as a team than they were on the same 2.95 mile course back in mid-September. Vasta and Fortenberry were both a full minute faster than they were in round one! Great improvement. The tenacity and drive with which the whole group competed was a picture of excellence and a victory in its own right.

The girls team also took second, and though they didn’t repeat their 2017 league finals victory, the “win” for the ladies was a race in which they made progress toward finding their new identity. This year’s team is made up largely of last year’s JV runners and a few new faces and as a result, all season King’s varsity girls have seen unpredictable results and finishing order as the parts try to become the whole.

Against impressive foes in Santiago – who won outright – and Roosevelt, whom King beat by one point, the girls raced well and accomplished much given the adversity of 2018.

That one point of separation could have come anywhere in the field, but Audrey Brunken’s race might have made the difference. Brunken, who finished as King’s sixth runner, was ahead of Roosevelt’s fifth and final scorer which turned out to be a two-point flip and secured second place for the Lady Wolves. Joanie Green, who has been the most consistent of all King’s runners this season had another outstanding race, finishing in 7th for “First-Team All League” honors. Two newcomers, Briana Rodriguez who was at Canyon Springs last year and Jocelyn Stevenson who was running sprint events last Spring, finished 12 and 13 respectively, earning 2nd team All League honors. Like the boys’ team, the girls had a big improvement in team time, dropping exactly 3:00 minutes off of their team time from September.

The JV teams also finished outside the winner’s circle as the boys completed the season in second and the girls in third. Malachi Cabanilla won the JV race, leading wire-to-wire for his second race win in 10 days! Dathan Chann also ran well in sixth with sophomores Brendan Provance and Bohdin Rush in tow. Senior Jacob Call had a satisfying effort after a health scare back in the first race that saw him collapse short of the line and head off to the hospital to recover. Though he finished in 14th place, given the circumstances, Jacob would say his race was a “win.” Justine Marshall and freshman Camille Bradford led the JV girls in 3rd and 8th place respectively as the team closed in third place. Faith Chick was next across the line for the Lady Wolves and was followed by Shelby Grossi who had a 1:24 improvement on the course from race-1 to Finals.

Winning of course, is usually defined as the individual or team that takes first place. And so it is. But when athletics is viewed as educational, instructive toward the themes and ideas of a bigger picture than a mere race or game, “winning” can take on multiple meanings, definitions not limited to place.

And perhaps that is the greater thing the cross country runners found in their efforts on Tuesday, races that many would label as second-place. The scores certainly did.

Well, maybe so, but look past the numbers and you’ll find a win.

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