With the temperature in the 50s, a clear sky and ideal running conditions, Phillip Rocha of Arcadia High turned in a performance Saturday that let everyone know he's the best cross-country runner in California.
Rocha won his second consecutive CIF Division I state championship, running the fastest time of the day in 14 minutes 42.9 seconds and his best all-time over the course at Woodward Park in Fresno.
"He ran a fantastic race," Coach Michael Feraco-Eberle said. "He ran very controlled and very smart. I'm really proud of him. He's worked really hard for this. Today was a perfect day for running. You couldn't have asked for better conditions."
Said Rocha: "I think it's unbelievable and I'm so grateful for running as well as I did because of how talented Division I is. It puts a stamp on the Arcadia legacy."
Rocha equaled the accomplishment of former Arcadia standout Amar Moussa, who won state titles in 2009 and 2010.
Temecula Great Oak won the boys' and girls' team championships. Saugus won the Division II girls' title, its ninth state title in the last 10 years.
Destiny Collins of Great Oak won the Division I girls' race in 17:09.4.
Los Angeles Loyola won the Division II boys' title and Steven Khan of Chino Hills Ayala took the individual title in 15:02.6.
Brea Olinda won the Division III boys' title by one point over Baldwin Park. Austin Tamagno took the individual title in 14:45.9. Andrew Burkhardt of San Juan Capistrano JSerra won Division IV boys' in 15:08.5. La Cañada Flintridge Prep won the Division V girls' title. La Puente Bishop Amat won Division IV girls.
Injuries in Division III
The two best football players in City Section Division III have been running back Erik Diaz of Belmont and quarterback David Rothenberg of Hollywood.
Incredibly, both went down with injuries in the first quarter Friday night in their respective semifinal games and their teammates somehow found a way to win.
Diaz was replaced by sophomore Isaiah Chatman, who scored a touchdown running and receiving in Belmont's 23-22 victory over West Adams.
Rothenberg was replaced by sophomore Ray Hardy, who passed for three touchdowns in Hollywood's 20-7 victory over Manual Arts.
"It's flabbergasting," Belmont Coach Gregg Barden said of the injuries. "It shows the resiliency of the two teams."
It remains to be seen whether either will be able to play in Saturday's 11 a.m. final at Cerritos College.
Diaz suffered a shoulder injury. He's expected to receive treatment and might make it back.
Rothenberg is on crutches after his Achilles' tendon was struck by a cleat. His availability is doubtful.