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Golden Valley cross country: Glimpse of the future

One Golden Valley runner capped off a strong career, while another may have just begun

Posted: November 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Golden Valley freshman Bianca Tinoco competes in the girls Division II race on Saturday at the CIF State Cross Country Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno.

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Golden Valley freshman Bianca Tinoco stood in line with a smile on her face while waiting to go up on stage to be honored for what she had just done.

She was about to be recognized for finishing as a top 10 individual in the CIF State Division II Championship race on Saturday in Fresno.

Tinoco finished seventh place with a time of 18 minutes, 9 seconds a little more than an hour after fellow Golden Valley runner Nolan Del Valle took 15th place (15:41) in the boys Division II race.

It was the first time the school had ever been represented by both genders at a state final.

A choked up first-year head coach Marc Minasian had difficulty finding the words after he watched Tinoco take the stage.

“This is very emotional. It’s very emotional,” Minasian said. “It’s been a long six months.”

Minasian took over after former co-head coaches Rob and Chris Evans resigned in the spring following five years in charge of the school’s cross country program.

In recent years, Golden Valley has become a regular contender at the highest level in the sport, particularly on the boys side.

Last year, that culminated in a state championship for the boys team.

So with all the expectation in the world, Minasian’s job was maintain the success.

“I just show up. They do all the running,” he said. “It’s really easy when you’ve got a great bunch of kids. It’s really easy when you have such a well established school. The Evans brothers, what ridiculous shoes to follow in, but the kids are so well disciplined and so well trained, I just kept it going.”

Though last year’s state championship team graduated five of its seven runners, Del Valle found his was back to Fresno with an individual qualifying performance at the CIF-Southern Section finals.

It was the senior’s fourth time running at a state meet, but it was the first time he was running it by himself because the Grizzlies failed to qualify as a team for the first time since 2007.

“It got me a little taste of working by myself and pushing myself harder during workouts and stuff like that,” Del Valle said. “I think it was a good year for me.”

It was a good career for him too. He was a scoring runner for the team’s last two state finalist teams, including a 10th place finish last year to help win the title.

He was a scoring member of the team all four years at the CIF-Southern Section championships, including an eighth-place result in 2010 and a personal best sixth-place this season.

With his graduation, along with that of senior Brendan Tinoco, it marks the end of a generation of Golden Valley runners who have set a high standard at the school.

The program as a whole is far from done though with a freshman sensation like Bianca, who is Brendan’s younger sister.

Most of the season, Bianca had flown under the radar despite two top five finishes in Foothill League races. At the CIF-SS finals, she broke out with an eighth-place finish to become Golden Valley’s first girl to qualify for the state finals.

It wasn’t long after her top 10 finish on Saturday that she started talking about the future.

“It’s really inspiring. Those are the people that you’re going to be running with all through high school, for me anyway,” Tinoco said of the competition in Fresno. “There was a freshman, there were sophomores, a bunch of people. So they’re competition for the rest of high school.”

If her performance is any indication, Golden Valley cross country is a program that will continue to rise.

“I’m very encouraged with what’s coming up and the people that are running as freshmen and sophomores right now,” Minasian said. “So I think we’re going to be just a strong next year, and we’re going to see people step up and really do well.”

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