Cross country team primes for state championship three-peat

Some sports teams never make it to a championship, much less win it. For the American River College men’s cross country team, winning the big races has come naturally to them.

In a sport that has been heavily dominated by teams from Southern California, ARC looks to continue the shifting of the power to the North.  The South has won 57 of the 62 state championships and has produced 52 individual race winners since 1964.

Since 2005 the ARC men’s cross country team has won three state championships and produced two individual state champions: Garrett Seawell in 2011 and Matt Airola in 2012. ARC is on its way to becoming the first Northern California school to three-peat in state championship history.

“Depth. We have quality up front again. Between any number, four or six guys on the team could place well,” head coach Rick Anderson said. “The Las Positas coach came up to me at the Fresno Invitational and asked me, ‘can I borrow a fifth man?’”

Returning sophomores Will Reyes, Luis Luna and Jacob Huston look to continue where the team left off last season. With the key additions of sophomore Christopher Kigar who transferred from the University of California Berkeley this past season and the addition of freshman brothers Patrick and Sean Jagerson who graduated from Del Campo High School, Anderson believes that this cross country team is stronger than last season’s.

Before heading to Berkeley, Kigar participated in cross country at El Camino Fundamental High School where he was a three-time MVP for the team. In 2010, Kigar’s junior year, he finished No. 5 at the state championships.

“I was running with a different program but that program wasn’t the right one for me,” Kigar said. “We have a lot of guys on the team who have been successful in the past with a good coach.”

[stextbox id=”black”]Sean Jagerson_The American Patrick Jagerson_River College men’s cross-country team was in rebuild mode after winning the 2012 California Community College Cross Country Championships. The team lost key members, among them the individual state winner Matt Airola, Derek Woodard and Will Melton.

 Head coach Rick Anderson recruited many new runners including twin brothers Sean (left) and Patrick Jagerson from Del Campo High School. Neither had plans to continue their running careers after high school but after Anderson contacted them, they decided against joining the Air Force and came to ARC for cross-country and track and field.[/stextbox]

Although Kigar’s times haven’t been as strong as they once were he hopes that by continuing his training with the team he will get back into stride with his former times, gain endurance and compete for the top spots without losing momentum.

Whether they are training for a meet, jogging on a running path or achieving their Eagle Scout badges with their triplet brother Kenny, Patrick and Sean Jagerson never cut corners.

Patrick, Sean and Kenny ran at Del Campo High School together before Kenny realized that he enjoyed water polo more than running.  Patrick and Sean kept their passion for running and ended their high school cross country running careers by being named to the boy’s all-league cross country team in the Capital Valley Conference.

“Coach Anderson called me and persuaded me to come here,” Sean said. “He told me he needed my talent on his team and he got me to come to ARC and run on the cross country team.”

Patrick and Sean had originally planned to enlist in the Air Force out of high school but like most things in life, their plans changed when Anderson pursued the guys to come and run at ARC. By the time they decided they wouldn’t be leaving for the Air Force, the two had passed the deadline to respond to many of the universities that had shown interest in them. They heard about ARC’s successful cross country, and track and field programs, and decided to continue their running careers under Anderson.

“I thought I was going to go into the Air Force, but I didn’t, so I wanted to continue my running career,” Patrick said. “I didn’t reply to any of my four-year college letters so I decided to come here because they have a really good running program. I want to make top 7. I didn’t think I would make top 7 my first year and I hope to get top 20 in state.”

Despite losing sophomores Airola and Will Melton after last season’s championship the team has added three standout runners to an already solid lineup featuring Reyes, Luna and Huston.

“I had one of the guys come up to me and say ‘you know what word I love coach? Three-peat.’” Anderson said.

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