ATASCADERO — Atascadero’s Xavier Gonzales
Three weeks ago at the Mountain League finals, Gonzales finished fourth and was upset with himself because he knew that he could have run faster but head coach Roger Warnes noted that they were, “Holding him back a bit for CIF next week.”
The strategy paid off as Gonzales now joins Callum Bolger of San Luis Obispo as recent Central Coast boys runners to win an individual CIF Championship.
For the past four years, Gonzales’ goal has been to win a CIF Championship and run in the state meet. As a sophomore, he just barely missed out by less than a second and just one place behind the fifth-place runner that was selected. Last year, as a junior, Gonzales became ill around the time of the PAC 8 finals and the CIF divisional meet and was unable to run to the best of his abilities but now in his final season, he has achieved everything he set out to do.
“As soon as I crossed the line — it still hasn’t hit me,” Gonzales said before practice on Wednesday. “But it has always been my goal to go to state and last year I was sick so I didn’t get the result I wanted out of CIF Finals, but this year winning a Divisional Championship and then obviously going to state. It was a lot, but all my hard work paid off and all the people know how hard I worked for what happened
Gonzales passed the runner that was in first place with around 300 yards to go in the race and never looked back. He crossed the finish line with a personal best time of 15 minutes and 46.81 seconds a champion.
After feeling fatigued for much of the Mountain League Finals, Gonzales wanted to make sure his body felt right for the race.
“The week of prep was pretty good,” Gonzales said. “Our race was on Thursday so we couldn’t do too much on Monday and Tuesday but I went harder in the pool than I did on land just because it is better and not as tough on my legs but still has the cardio. I always stress myself out going into big races so I ended up a little congested and sick during the race but I just knew that if that is what the Lord wanted me to do that day then it was going to happen. I just ran my race and wasn’t too worried about it but the result was good though but it is on to the next race.”
They Greyhounds team as a whole placed seventh on the boy's side and eighth on the girls. As CIF Champion, Gonzales will be moving on to the state meet as an individual, which will take place Saturday, Nov. 24, in Fresno, and will be joined by senior teammate Claire Livengood who finished fifth in Division 2 with a time of 19:28.67.
With the state meet just a couple days away, it will be a bland Thanksgiving for Gonzales who has not been able to stop thinking about food since the season began.
“Oh no, no, no, nothing. Turkey, maybe some mashed potatoes or something but nothing heavy, no
Gonzales has the community behind him as six Greyhounds, some current and some alumni, joined him on the track on Wednesday to help him prepare for this weekend’s race.
Gonzales is the first Individual CIF Champion at Atascadero since Tannen Soojian won a title in wrestling in 2016 before placing seventh at state.
If the senior standout runs the way he has been running, he has a great chance at cracking the top 10 in state and even the top five. His race will begin at 9 a.m. at Woodward Park on Saturday while Livengood’s race will begin at 10 a.m.