Will Wester, coach of the San Pasqual High cross-country team, recognizes the importance of having a solid sixth runner.
And after the state cross-country championships here Saturday at Woodward Park, Wester can confirm it.
San Pasqual became the first school to win boys' and girls' cross-country championships in the same year.
"We had six kids going for us (on both teams) today," Wester said. "Most teams have 1-2-3-4-5 then a gap. We have six."
Having a strong No. 6 runner offers a team a cushion should one of its top five not do well.
Tamarra Tyrell, normally the Golden Eagles' sixth runner, finished with her team's third-best time Saturday, helping San Pasqual to the girls' Division II title, 38-83, over Irvine Woodbridge.
Tyrell, a sophomore, timed 19 minutes, 15 seconds to place 19th overall. Junior Deanna Hadley placed eighth in 18:43 to lead San Pasqual, the state's No. 1-ranked Division II team.
The San Pasqual boys' team, ranked fifth in Division II, scored a 64-86 victory over No. 3 Camarillo, last year's state Division I champion.
San Pasqual senior Robert Walker ran in the back most of the race before surging by Tesfaye Beyene of Newark Memorial in the final stretch to win the individual title in 15:25. Beyene's time was 15:29.
"I kind of hung out behind (Daniel Das Veves of Helix) and (Beyene) and I started reeling them in after two miles," Walker said. "I was kind of worried because I could see them behind me (near the finish) and I didn't know if they were going to kick or not."
Sophomore Milena Glusac of Fallbrook timed 17:54 to finish third in the girls' Division II race. Westlake Village Westlake's Jeannie Rothman had the fastest girls' time, 17:28, and won the Division II title.
The La Jolla girls' team won its second consecutive team championship, but on a different level. The Vikings, who won the Division II title a year ago, scored 31 points Saturday to win the Division III championship handily, beating Santa Ana Foothill (102).
In fact, meet announcer Bob Womack confirmed La Jolla won the Division III team race before the official results were posted: "La Jolla has won its second state title in a row; we can guarantee that," he said as the Vikings' fifth and final scorer, freshman Lauren Andrade, crossed the finish line in 21st place.
"I could tell just after two miles that they had it unless something really drastic happened (in the final mile)," La Jolla Coach Bill Stock said.
Mailee Ferguson, a junior, had missed the state meet the past two years because of a stress fracture and an asthma problem, but she led the Vikings Saturday, placing fourth with a time of 18:42.
La Jolla's score of 31 points is the lowest cumulative total in the history of the state meet. Camarillo had 39 points in winning the boys' Division I title last year.