Two former CCCAA standouts finished 1-2 to lead Chico State to the CCAA title. Will Reyes (American River College) and Steven Martinez (SD Mesa) are roommates at Chico. Will was the 2012 Norcal Regional Champion in cross country and placed 2nd in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. It was Martinez who he placed second to! Martinez was a CCCAA XC All-American in 2012 and the 10,000 meter champion.
by Chico State Sports Information
SAN FRANCISCO – Armed with the opportunity to make California Collegiate Athletic Association history, the Chico State men's cross country team had the will. The Wildcats also had Will Reyes. He helped quite a bit as well.
Chico State won its 14th straight CCAA title Sunday morning at Golden Gate Park – the longest consecutive championship streak in the history of the conference in any sport – behind Reyes' resounding victory.
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Will Reys (left) and his roommate Steven Martinez embrace after they finished 1-2 at the CCAA Championships to lead the Wildcats to their
record 14th consecutive conference title.The junior beat runner-up and roommate Steven Martinez by 16 seconds, starting a stretch of five Wildcats to cross the finish line in the top eight.
Chico State, which would have beaten the rest of the field if it were combined into one team, easily outdistanced second place Cal Poly Pomona 24-46.
Nick Valenzuela came in sixth, Arturo Arevalo seventh and Aaron Mora eighth. Joining those five in earning All-CCAA honors was Steven Velarde, who came in 11th. Caton Avilla finished 21st, Connor Fisher 30th, Kyle Medina 41stand Falco DiGiallonardo 45th in the 82-runner field.
Along with the Wildcats' will and Will, they also had a huge contingent of family, fans and alumni from up and down the state cheering them on. The other thread that has woven through all 14 titles is Head Coach Gary Towne, who was named the CCAA's men's coach of the year.
Asking the group of alumni huddled around and talking prior to the awards ceremony about the 14 consecutive titles led to a 10-man sermon on their former coaches' virtues.
"This is really a testament to all of Gary's hard work and what he's established," 2011 CCAA Champion Adrian Sherrod said.
"He has an amazing ability to transfer his knowledge and consistently get guys to run faster than they ever thought they could," 2012 CCAA Champion Isaac Chavez said.
"None of us were the best runners at our high school," Alan Cuevas said. "But he showed us how to work hard and get better and we all did better than even we could have imagined at first."
Steve Springhorn, a member of the 2002 team that won the program's first CCAA title, said this: "It starts and ends with Gary. He is the same consistent coach he was when we beat Davis back in 2002. His athletes make steady progress and his program makes steady progress. It's really amazing."
The Wildcats sprint out at the beginning of the race.Towne deflects all such praise, instead choosing to focus on the energy the fans brought to the race. Chico State fans were everywhere one looked and their cheers echoed around Golden Gate Park.
He even gave his Coach of the Year plaques to the two children of one of his former athletes.
"It was a family atmosphere out here," Towne said. "People got up at 3 a.m. to drive here from Ventura. We have a bunch of former conference championships here. It's been a special day."
Reyes is the eighth straight Wildcat to win the CCAA title, joining Scott Bauhs (2008), Jimmy Elam (2009), Brent Handa (2010), Sherrod (2011), Chavez (2012), Aaron Thomas (2013) and Alex McGuirk (2014). Bauhs, Sherrod, Chavez and McGuirk were all on hand Sunday, along with a number of other members of CCAA Championship teams.
Reyes was crowned CCAA Runner of the Year and CCAA Newcomer of the Year.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 2 in the nation and No. 1 in the West Region entering the weekend, will next attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the 17th year in a row at the NCAA West Regionals on Nov. 7 in Monmouth, Ore.