Third time’s a charm for men’s cross-country team

Jessica Maynard and Jessica Maynard

Beavers capture third state championship with back-to-back season victories

It was déjà vu all over again for Head Coach Rick Anderson and the American River College men’s cross-country team – the men won the state title at the California Community College Cross-Country Championships for the second straight season on Nov. 17 at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The title represents the Beavers’ third state championship in school history. The men have claimed all three of their titles under Anderson; the first state title was won in the 2005 season.

Anderson, who was recently named the California Community College Cross-Country Coach of the Year for the second time in his career, etched his name in the history book. He became the first northern California cross-country coach to win back-to-back championships in the events 49-year history.

Anderson prepared the team for this victory throughout the season by challenging them with a difficult schedule and training regimens that brought the group together.

“It’s the training and the races we go to. We don’t go race at rinky-dink races,” said Anderson. “In the Bronco Invitational, it was us versus 18 four-year schools and we finished fourth.”

Earlier in the season, the men won the Big 8 conference championship for the seventh season in a row. The men were also the No.1 ranked team in the California polls entering the season and remained ranked in the top spot throughout the year.

The Beavers recaptured their 2011 title by having five of their runners finish in the top 28 spots. The men were led by the races individual champion sophomore Matt Airola, who recently committed to The University of Alabama. Airola posted a time of 20:10.68 and finished seven seconds faster than second place finisher Omar Cortes (20:17.75) from Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

“You just gotta put your head down and work hard,” said Airola.

Airola was also named a California Community College All-American for the second straight season. Freshman teammate Will Reyes, who finished the race in 20:43.94, also received the CCC A-A award for his 14th place finish.

Jacob Huston (16), Will Melton (25) and Steven White (28) all finished with times under 21 minutes and were the other three runners whose scores were used in ARC’s final point total. The men combined for 84 points and narrowly edged out Glendale Community College, who finished with 96 points.

“It’s a happy thought knowing I was a part of three championships,” said Airola.