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Totten, Grizzlies grab attention

Golden Valley junior runner finishes fifth, the team places 11th

Posted: November 29, 2008 9:47 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2008 4:55 a.m.
FRESNO - It was the greatest individual and team performance in the five-year history of Golden Valley High School athletics.

No one would have expected it.

Not even Golden Valley cross country runner Seth Totten.

The junior athlete, still new to the sport, finished fifth individually in the CIF State Division III Cross Country Championships at Fresno's Woodward Park.

His team finished 11th overall out of 24 teams.

"I had to make a choice today," Totten said. "I didn't know what to expect. I looked around at the beginning of the race and saw a hill full of people."

He made that choice after slipping at the start.

"We have to have faith," he said.

That faith helped will the junior to a time of 15 minutes, 25 seconds - just 17 seconds off the first-place time from University City of San Diego's Mac Fleet.

Others were more highly touted than Totten and his teammates, but the Golden Valley runners officially arrived on the cross country scene with the performance.

One of those others was defending Division I state champ Chris Schwartz of Foothill of Bakersfield.

"I saw him (at the two-mile mark) and said, ‘I can't believe he's right there,'" Totten said. "I realized, all these guys, Schwartz, the Barstow kid (second-place finisher Isaac Chavez), they're human."

Totten wasn't alone in his belief.

The Golden Valley team posted 303 points, just three away from 10th-place finisher Lutheran.

The Grizzlies had a time of 82:04.

Barstow claimed its fourth straight state title with 70 points and a time of 78:52.

Golden Valley senior Johnny Tapia, in his first year of competition, was 80th overall with a time of 16:30.
Danny Carrillo (90th, 16:36), Gabe Vazquez (94th, 16:38), Luc Schutz (117th, 16:56), Andrew Valenzuela (137th, 17:09) and Elie Boutros (152nd, 17:23) followed him.

The Golden Valley runners stayed in the pack for the first two miles before bursting out for the final leg. Grizzly runners began passing runners in mass.

"It was the overall effort," Tapia said. "Everyone gets along."

The Golden Valley boys cross country program has gone from fifth in the Foothill League last season to 11th in California this season.

That accomplishment was not lost on the team or its co-head coaches, brothers Rob and Chris Evans.

"This proves what we always knew," Chris Evans said. "Golden Valley athletes can be successful."

Totten was 15th with a mile to go, then kept passing runners.

He was 16th overall in the Foothill League last year.

The Evans brothers tried to get Totten into an invitational tournament in October.

The tournament director told the two coaches: "He's not good enough."

That same director was on stage to help present Totten's fifth-place medal Saturday.

After the ceremony, that same director had a change of heart about next year, according to the brothers.


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