Mike McGarry is reminded a little of his own high school days when he thinks about this year’s Bronco cross country team.
Mustang’s head coach finished 12th overall on the 1974 Class 3A California state championship team, which didn’t feature a single runner inside the top-5. His team’s highest placer came in seventh, but each member finished inside the top-15.
“We were always pushing and working hard,” McGarry said. “That causes everyone to run faster. I ended up fourth on that team, but I was working hard each day to not get beat off varsity.
“This year’s team is a lot like that. We have about 10 guys that have a shot to make varsity by the end of the year. They’re working hard every practice and once that whistle is blown, there’s not much messing around.”
Mustang returns five of the team’s seven runners who qualified for the Class 6A state championship meet a year ago, where the Broncos finished fifth overall, including four of five scorers.
Senior Dylan Chaoomchaisiri, sophomore Cameron Langdon, and juniors Carson Patten and Ryan Cable all finished inside the top-40 while senior Jacoby Nance finished 48th.
“We think we can realistically be better than last year, but at the same time as many as five to six teams are all pretty close,” McGarry said. “We have a chance to end up winning it and there’s a chance we could come in fifth out of that group.
“Right now, we’re pretty excited with the top-5 guys at any race. That’s what it takes to score. They just have to keep pushing and improving and then things could get interesting.”
Chaoomchaisiri returns as the team’s top senior after placing 22nd overall in last year’s state meet, finishing with a time of 16:40.68.
“He’s our top runner from last year and we’re really hoping he can move up and get into the top-10 this year,” McGarry said. “We’re going to need him. He has good endurance; he just needs to pick up his speed a bit. He’s a really good, quiet kid and should be a strong leader for us.”
Langdon also has a chance to take the next step. He was the top freshman finisher in the state meet last year by nearly 40 seconds (16:48.58) and had a breakout track season, notching a 4:25 mile that impressed his coach.
“He was the best freshman at the state meet by a good distance,” McGarry said. “Then he goes to track and gets a little bit better each meet and runs a 4:25 mile. I don’t know that anyone has done that as a freshman at Mustang other than maybe Kevin Schwab.
“He has the speed; he just has to work on endurance. And that will come. We’re excited about his potential and hopefully he is another guy we can get on the podium.”
Patten came in just one place behind Langdon at state last year, posting a time of 16:49.56. He is expected to help lead the pack along with Chaoomchaisiri and Langdon.
“Carson is a hard-working kid and was right on Cameron’s heels last year,” McGarry said. “With those three guys, things could get interesting as far as finishing on the podium.”
Cable placed 40th as the team’s final scorer at state, posting a time of 17:08.52. McGarry thinks the junior has a chance to keep a yearly streak alive of beating his brother Colton’s times. Colton placed 17th for the 2020 state championship team.
“He’s another solid runner and also a good student and kid,” McGarry said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how much he improves and if he moves down in time like we think he can. He wants to beat his brother’s times each year and he’s well on his way.”
McGarry is also impressed with Nance’s effort coming into the season. He said the senior has put in major work during the summer and now it’s about trying to keep him from getting injured. Nance posted a time of 17:17.82 at state last year.
“He is really putting in the work,” McGarry said. “It’s his senior year and you can tell he really wants it. I’m looking forward to watching him compete especially and see how much he improves in his final season.”
The Broncos could also see contributions from racers like junior Luke Balliew, who placed 20th at the season-opening Deer Creek Field Run over the weekend, and sophomore Carson Fincher, who placed 46th. Freshman Noah Thayer could also make an impact at some point.
McGarry says his team has a nice mix of experience and youth and that the future looks bright. He’s interested to see how everything pans out early this season.
“They’ve been working hard all summer,” he said. “They know they have a chance and that you don’t get that chance very often. It’s going to be fun to watch.”