Cross Country Battles Back From Injury and Illness at CIF State Championships

After a strong showing at the CIF Finals last week, where the Tartans finished 2nd in the boys and 4th in the girls championships, the teams were met with some adversity heading into the state championships on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Injury and illness plagued the team over the Thanksgiving break, as approximately half the team was sidelined at some point during the week. Despite the challenge, they rallied the alternates to finish 9th in the girls race and 20th in the boys. 

"It certainly was not the result we were looking for, but I'm so proud of how the team handled things. Our leaders showed tremendous poise, and our alternates seized the opportunity to race in the toughest state championship in the country," said head coach Patrick Bendzick. "You have to admire teenagers that have gained this level of perspective in their young lives. I appreciate them, and I appreciate their wonderful families."

As was the case all season, Everett Capelle (19th place) and Joyce Li (16th place) led the Tartans in their respective races. But it was late addition Caden Gazzaniga that had the race of the day by being the second runner for the boys team in the final race of his high school career. 

"Only 3 percent of the schools in California qualified both cross country teams to the state championships this year. It's a feat the athletes of this program have done for the past six consecutive years, and we wouldn't want it any other way, said Bendzick. "They do everything together, so it's fitting that they get to share in this moment together too."

The Tartans end the season as the Clovis Invitational Champions, the Mt. SAC Champions, CIF Finalists, State Championships qualifiers, and with three All-CIF selections.
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