Gonzales High distance runner Giovanni Ochoa (#653) takes off after the gun at the CIF Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno. Ochoa is the only Spartan athlete to compete at the cross country finals for two straight years. (Margie Daniels)

SALINAS VALLEY — Giovanni Ochoa of Gonzales and Fabian Serrano of Greenfield ran against the best runners in the State of California at last Saturday’s California Interscholastic Federation Cross Country Championships in Fresno.

Greenfield High’s Fabian Serrano (#705) is ready for the start of the Division III boys race at the CIF State Meet. (Contributed)

Ochoa was making a return trip to the State Meet and finished in 68th place out of 201 runners in the Division IV boys race.

Ochoa, a junior at Gonzales High, ran the course at Woodward Park in a time of 16:42. Division IV had some speed burners in the boys race, as the top three runners placed in the top four of all five divisions combined.

Serrano placed 123rd out of 212 boys in Division III in a time of 16:53 in his first State Meet appearance.

Greenfield High Coach Angel Villagomez has high hopes for the future of Serrano as a cross country runner.

“For the most part, we were after the experience and enjoying the process,” Villagomez said. “Nothing is guaranteed, and so you have to rejoice in such experiences. Having said that, we’re also looking forward to what the future might bring.”

Gonzales head cross country coach and Spartan Athletic Director Margie Daniels praised Ochoa for his effort at State and his successful season.

“Our 2023-24 came to close with Gio competing at the State Meet on Saturday,” Daniels said. “Recovering from a cold, he ran just shy of his personal record on the 3-mile course. As expected, the competition was fierce and the level of intensity was high. Gio has put Gonzales on the map and I can confidently say that he is the best runner we’ve had. Congratulations Gio on such a successful season. We are extremely proud of you.”

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