FRESNO -- As the California Interscholastic Federation Division III boys cross country championship race wound down Saturday, only three runners were in position to capture the state title.
But Campolindo High's Aidan Goltra willed himself through the final flat, grassy stretch and won his second straight Division III state championship at Woodward Park.
"Make every step count ... this was the focus," Goltra said. "My focus is what got me through the line first. ... I couldn't ask for (the race) to go any better."
Goltra's winning time of 15 minutes, 2 seconds on the 3.1 mile course ranks third all-time for the Division III boys race. He is the first runner to win back-to-back CIF Division III boys state titles since Newbury Park's Jeff Wilson in 1990-91.
On Saturday, second-place David Luna of Indio and third-place Austin Tamagno of Brea Olinda both finished one second behind Goltra, who led his team to a fourth-place finish.
At the one-mile mark, Goltra was fourth at 4:42 and moved up to second by the two-mile mark (9:40) before making a move approximately 1,000 meters to go. But Goltra pointed out that it was not as strong a move as last year, when he surged at the same point.
Goltra led a banner day for East Bay runners, as both the Campolindo girls team (Division III) and the St. Joseph Notre Dame boys squad (Division V) won team titles in impressive fashion.
Campolindo, led by Brighie Leach's second-place finish in 17:51, was first in the Division III girls race with a score of 83, well ahead of second-place Northwood (127).
Leach found herself in an unusual situation in the final two miles. Winner Bethan Knights of Northwood (17:08) was far ahead, and the rest of the field was far behind Leach. She passed the one-mile mark in 5:27 and the two-mile mark in 11:19.
"I tried to keep (Knights) in sight. I never looked behind me," Leach said. "I'm just overwhelmed."
The rest of Campolindo's scorers were Mary Orders (17th, 18:42), Rachel Johnson (18th, 18:43), Sarah Cella (32nd, 19:03) and Haley Shipway (34th, 19:08).
"The key was an incredible pack that was relentless all season," said Campolindo coach Chuck Woolridge about his girls team. "I've never had a team that had such incredible fitness."
St. Joseph Notre Dame's boys team had the third-fastest team time in CIF state Division V boys history (1:21:47) for a score of 64, 55 points ahead of second-place Marin Academy.
Gabe Arias-Sheridan led the Pilots with a fourth-place finish in 15:42. He passed the one-mile mark in third (5:00) and the two-mile mark in fourth (10:05).
"I followed my strategy and I had something to kick in," said Arias-Sheridan, who kicked to pass Marin Academy's James Kinney in the final meters of the race. "I just tried to run a smart race."
St. Joseph Notre Dame's other scorers were Michael Murphy (ninth, 16:10), Matthew Murphy (16th, 16:29), Cooper Teare (17th, 16:30) and Chris Melendez (32nd, 16:56).
"They did exactly what they needed to do. Nobody needed to run a 4:35 first mile," St. Joseph Notre Dame coach Tony Fong said. "Our most important runner was our fifth runner (Melendez)."
In the Division I boys race, De La Salle's Blair Hurlock placed fourth in 15:11. Hurlock, who led at the two-mile mark by two seconds in 9:44, produced the highest finish by an East Bay high school athlete in the CIF Division I boys state championship race since 2004.
"The plan was to start kicking with a half-mile to go. I found myself in the lead (with one mile to go) and decided to go for it. I should have waited," Hurlock said.
Las Lomas' Chloe Hansel also placed fourth in the Division III girls race (18:09) and Piedmont's girls team, led by a 24th-place finish from Sophia Mills (19:12) was fourth in the Division IV girls race with a score of 204.