Davis' Rosas section champ

FOLSOM -- Roberto Rosas crossed the finish line and, 18 seconds and three places later, his Davis High teammate Chris Izquierdo hit the tape at the Willow Hill cross country course at Folsom High School.

The two embraced, knowing they'd finished high enough at Saturday's Sac-Joaquin Section Cross Country Championships to qualify for state. Little did they know they'd be bringing some friends.

Thanks to big finishes by nearly every Spartan runner, the Davis High boys cross country team placed second in the Division I race, qualifying for the CIF State Championships in two weeks at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The news stunned Davis coach Matt Soderlund, who found out just as the results were released.

"We thought we had an outside chance, maybe," Soderlund said. "(Fellow Davis coach) Rich Antal kept crunching the numbers. It was in my wildest dreams that we'd be going to state."

Soderlund and Antal told the team after the race, at their tent. It set off a wild celebration, with Rosas and Izquierdo hugging everybody in sight.

"We pushed each other the entire season," said Rosas who finished second. "We did this together. We worked hard for this."

It was because of higher-than-expected finishes by just about every Davis runner.

"I was trying to keep Roberto company at the front," said Izquierdo, who placed fifth and will race in his first state meet.

Davis was second with 77 team points. Franklin of Elk Grove was third with 88. Such was the Spartans' depth that they would have taken second even if their fifth and sixth runners hadn't competed.

"Roberto and Chris, we knew they were going to be near the top," Soderlund said. "But everybody else stepped up and had a great finish. Look at Austin Stahl, he's normally our sixth or even seventh runner. Today, he was our fifth."

Big Valley Christian sophomore Nathan Jackson and Bret Harte senior Sara Mikesell were the only Stanislaus District individual champions.

Mikesell cruised to victory in the Division IV girls race in 19:51, helping push the Bullfrogs to the team victory. She was followed by freshman teammate Kaylee Sedler (fourth place, 20:18) and junior Katie O'Connor (eighth, 21:35).

Like last week's sub-section meet, Jackson was an easy winner in the Division V boys race, finishing in 17:39.

The only local runner in the Division I girls race to go to state was Modesto junior Rachel Van Nes. She took sixth place in 20:27.

"I've been nervous all week," Van Nes said. "I came in with a goal in the top 14. I really wanted to go to state."

It's her first trip to Woodward Park.

"It's so exciting," she said. "Unbelievable."

The Sierra Ridge boys team took home a title in the Division V race, punching its ticket to state.

The Rams were led by junior Benjamin Kay's fifth-place finish in 19:31. He was followed by Ivan Nunez (ninth place, 20:15) and Preston Peteet (10th, 20:30).