Area runners fare well at State

FRESNO -- Roberto Rosas was driven throughout his cross country season by one goal: To make it to the state championships.

And when the Davis High junior made it and actually stepped on the 5-kilometer course at Woodward Park, he didn't know what to do.

"All year, the goal was the same: make state," Rosas said. "Then the entire team made it here. And we got here and we were like, 'So now what?' "

There was only one thing to do; go out there and run.

Rosas turned in a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 37 seconds, good for 23rd place in the Division I race on Saturday morning. All six of his teammates had personal-best times.

The Spartans' effort was one of a handful of highlights featuring Stanislaus District athletes on Saturday.

Hughson freshman Becky Hobby came out of nowhere to place 21st in the Division IV race in 19:12. She was the third-fastest freshman in her division.

Bret Harte junior Matt Airola took 12th place in the Division IV boys race in 16:07. He helped lead the Bullfrogs team to an 18th-place finish. The Bret Harte girls team placed 10th, led by Sara Mikesell's 17th-place finish.

Big Valley Christian sophomore Nathan Jackson was 28th in the Division V race in 16:48. That improved on his 53rd-place finish as a freshman.

Modesto junior Rachel Van Nes was 69th in the Division I race in 19:12. Van Nes was the only district girls runner in the Division I race.

Rosas called the state meet a "great experience" for he and his teammates. All of them -- including the coaches -- got the letters "X C" shaved into their heads. They prepped for this race all year.

"There aren't too many hills in Modesto," Davis coach Matt Soderlund said. "So we tried to go to invitationals with hills on our Saturday races."

Soderlund said fellow coach Rich Antal orchestrated the Spartans' workouts, and they was key. Antal was happy, too.

"The entire team (set personal records)," he said.

It was a strange setting for Davis as they toed the line. The Division I boys race was the first race of the day, at 8:30 a.m. A thick fog still hung over the park, limiting visibility.

"I've never seen so many teams in one place," Rosas said. "And it was a pretty dirty race. A lot of pushing and shoving. A guy accidentally tripped on me. It was crazy."

Consider Rosas had no goals coming into the race, he was pretty happy with his finish.

"I'm a little speechless right now," he said.

Perhaps an even larger surprise was Hughson's Hobby taking 21st in the Division IV girls race.

Her time of 19:12 was more than a minute faster than the 20:14 she ran here at the Clovis Invitational a month ago.

"I ran here (at the Clovis Invitational) and I just loved the course," Hobby said. "Now, this is my favorite course."

After her finish, Hobby was surrounded by family and friends, all wearing bright yellow shirts with letters that spelled out "Go Becky go!"

"I saw them all over the course as I was running," Hobby said. "It was awesome. I can't thank my coaches, family and friends enough."

Hobby started distance running a year ago, and set high goals for her freshman year.

"I wanted to go to state and I wanted to place in the top 20 when I got there," Hobby said. "Then as the season began I realized that going to state wasn't as easy as it sounded."

Even so, she made it to Woodward Park, and was one spot from making those lofty preseason goals.

"You have those days where you think, 'Why do I do this?' " she said. "Then I hit the finish line here and I saw my family and my coaches and I saw my time and I knew it was all worth it."

History was made in the Division V girls race, where Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo senior Jordan Hasay won her fourth state title. She joins Sara Bei of Montgomery of Santa Rosa as the only four-time state cross country champions in California history.

"I'm just happy to win four state titles in a row,' Hasay said. "It's a good day today."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at or 578-2300.