Battered and bruised, the Hawks have still found a way to make it to Fresno for the state championships this year.
Adam White, Abraham Espinoza, Arthur Ruvalcaba, Taylor Peissner, Jesse Chestnut, Giovani Perez and Thomas Wilson will all be in Fresno trying to bring the title to LPC. The Hawks battled injuries all year but still qualified for state by finishing fifth in a field of 14 schools this past Saturday at the NorCal Championships in Belmont.
Most schools have extra runners who can step up and fill in for struggling runners. Due to a number of injuries, the Hawks do not have that luxury. They have had to depend on their seven runners all year to deliver on a consistent basis. Head Coach Steve Navarro is proud of the way his team responded to the adversity.
“We have no depth,” Navarro said. “Two guys went down with injuries early in the season, so if one guy was to slip up we would not have made it to state.”
Thankfully there was no slip up. Even though the Hawks received two less than stellar performances from their veteran anchors Jesse Chestnut and Taylor Peissner, they were saved by good performances from unexpected sources. Freshman runners Adam White and Abraham Espinoza were able to carry LPC to state with the best performances of their young careers. Both finished in the top 30 among the 100 runners that were at the meet.
“Adam White had his best day ever,” Navarro said. “He stuck to the game plan which was to start the first mile at a steady pace, and finish strong.”
This game plan was not followed by all runners and as sophomore runner Jesse Chestnut admits, it showed in the final results.
“It definitely was not my best performance,” Chestnut said. “We all need to run better if we want to win state.”
Heading into the state championships for the fourth time in the past six years, the Hawks can’t afford to have another off day from any runners, especially veterans like Chestnut and Peissner. Coach Navarro and his staff will continue preaching their runners to run a smart race.
“It’s not about being the fastest runner, it’s about being the smartest,” Navarro said. “They need to listen to the coaches and trust the system that we have in place.”
There will be 24 schools represented at state. 10 from northern California and 14 from southern California. So-Cal has a number of powerhouse teams. For example, if American River, who came in first at NorCal, would have run in the SoCal championships they would have finished in ninth. A real expectation should be for the Hawks to finish in the top 10, but Coach Navarro feels they can bring home a trophy if they can get a repeat performance from their freshmen along with a bounce back performance from their veteran leaders.
“If Jesse (Chestnut) and Taylor (Peissner) can improve their times by just 10 places ahead we’ll be in good shape,” Navarro said.
Even with the high expectations and the biggest meet of the year coming up, Coach Navarro is proud of his team for their effort they have put into the season.
“These guys have put in hard work all season to get to this point,” Navarro said. “They have all been team players and never got down on themselves even with all the injuries we suffered.”
The Hawks will attempt to claim California supremacy on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Woodward Park in Fresno.