The Monache boys cross country team held its own in Division II at the State Championships on Saturday at Woodward Park, coming home with a 23rd place finish.

Porterville High's Alesandro Escarzaga had the top finish among local runners as he placed 75th in Division III, finishing the 5,000-meter course in an outstanding time of 16:43.5.

Monache shared the spotlight with the Southern Section's Newbury Park as it ran away with the Division II title. Monache was introduced to the crowd two places before Newbury Park.

"I think we got a little star struck, but the team will remember the moment,” Monache coach Seth Ishida said. “It was a festive occasion with play by play announcing throughout the races." 

Newbury Park is the favorite to win the Nike Nationals. Last year, Newbury Park was considered the best high school team in history of and its coach was immediately hired by UCLA.   

Monache was stuck in traffic for most of the first mile, with so much similar quality around that it was a traffic jam. Live scoring at the first mile mark showed Monache had opened up a large lead of 100 points on Venice High School of Venice Beach while maintain striking distance with Oakland Tech, Vista Del Lago of the San Joaquin Section and Branham of the Central Coast Section. 

Monache was a little slower than usual because of the 200 athlete race and the pace continued to hold in the tough hills. Monache tried its best to hold onto a top 20 finish, but was only able to hold on to beat Venice of the Los Angeles Section. 

"The boys earned their spot in this race and it took everything they had,” Ishida said. “We are a young team and we looked at this race as an experience builder. It really tells us that we worked hard, but we need to be stronger at the end of the season. 

We had to let off the gas early to put in an honest and rested effort at the EYL Championships and the Valley Championships. We had to fight through illnesses with Devin Marino, Jake Estrada and Conner Machado just back from a flu during the week. It takes a lot out of you, but I know they still expected to compete at the highest level. 

To place 23rd in Division II at the CIF State Championship was still an incredible experience.  It was great to be competing at such a high level. It really motivated them for next year." 

Monache finished with 680 points just ahead of Venice at 687. Newbury Park was the class of the entire day at 24 points ahead of Granada of the North Coast Section with 99 points for second. 

For Monache, Monte Moore finished 158th at 17:34, Conner Machado was 164th at 17:43,  Salvador Martinez was 168th at 17:50, Alberto Andrade was 169th at 17:50.7, Joey Toledo was 175th at 18:04 and Jake Estrada was 185th at 18:33.

"They guys gave it all this year and they worked as a team,” Ishida said. “We only have Joey graduating, so the guys understand that this is just the beginning for this young team."

Also competing in the state meet was Summit Collegiate High School's Raul Acevedo, who finished 113th in 17:53.6 in Division V.

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