Remembering 1987: Boys State Meet Progression

Boys team times have dropped significantly over the 32-year history of the CIF-State Cross Country Championships, no more so than in recent years as five of the top nine fastest times have been set over the past two seasons, four of those by (from left) Newbury Park, Great Oak and Dana Hills.

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This is the latest in a series of articles looking back at the 1987 CIF-State Cross Country Championships, the first in California.

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As we reflect back on California's first-ever State Cross Country Championship meet in 1987, we celebrate the accomplishments of the Division I State Champs, Arroyo, which concluded that inaugural season ranked as the best in the United States.  We also recognize that their 78:23 team time (15:41 average per scorer) became the standard by which all future elite squads would be judged.   

It took some time, but the boys of Thousand Oaks put on a clinic in 1993, rolling to a 77:59 team time, breaking Arroyo's team time State Meet record.  Even more amazing was how the Highlanders only scored 23 points, which still stands as a divisional record to this day.  Incredibly, they placed all five scorers in the top 20, and after removing non-scorers, yielded a 1-2-3 finish with their untouchable trio of Jeff Fischer (15:26), Brandon Del Campo (15:30), and Kevin Marsden (15:30).   No team would feature a trio under 15:30 at the State Meet until Buchanan achieved the feat ... 15 years later in 2008!

Until 2005 -- for the first 18 years of the State Meet -- Arroyo, Thousand Oaks, and Camarillo's 1989 squad were the only three squads to break the 79-minute landmark! (To put that in perspective, 19 squads ran faster than 79-minutes as a team at the 2019 State Meet while for the first time, four squads rolled under 78-minutes as a unit.)   

Moving into the 21st Century, Thousand Oaks continued to be THE standard, and seemingly, no squad would ever be able to touch them. And in those initial years of the new century, the best squads still did not break 79 minutes, although we did witness a breakthrough at the 2002 State Meet where five squads broke 80-minutes.  

With only three teams with sub-79 minute resumes during those first 18 State Meets, In the 14 years since (2005-2019), that number has now ballooned to an astonishing ... 75 teams!   

Seven of the top fifteen all-time State Meet team times have come in recent seasons, all breaking 78 minutes.  

The top 10 team time all-times came in the past decade, where the record was 77:38 going in, and an incredible 75:28 coming out.   

Let us take you through the progression of the top teams that have continued to move the thermometer up over the past fifteen seasons!  

Royal Claims the Crown 

Led by Michael Cybulski, Royal claimed Division 1 titles between 2004-2006.   Coached by Ryan Luce, the 2005 squad dominated the State Championships as they scored a minuscule 24 points, just one point off of that great Thousand Oaks unit of 1993. Overall, Royal left no doubt that they were THE best in California, as their 78:11 team time was over two minutes faster than the next best squad.  Despite the threat, the Thousand Oaks record continued to stand.   

Trabuco Hills Takes the Stage

The 12-year old record (77:59) of Thousand Oaks finally went down in 2006! The Mustangs of Trabuco Hills, coached by Liam Clemons, stopped Royal's goal of a three-peat with a 71-82 victory and a new State Meet record of 77:55!  Led by the Sullivan brothers, JT placed second with a 15:05 while Riley crossed in seventh at 15:21. Royal placed second running a team time of 78:12 making this the fastest race in State Meet history.  

2008 State Meet - Dana Hills Establishes New Standard

The Division I State Championships became the fastest race in State Meet history.  With nine squads dipping under the 80 minutes in that same race, Dana Hills held off Buchanan for a 70-85 victory.  In doing so, they rolled to a 77:38 team time and became the first team with four boys under 15:40.  This was the second of three straight titles Dana Hills earned from 2007-2009, and it came twenty years after coaching legend Tim Butler guided the Dolphins program to its first state title in 1988!  Meanwhile, Buchanan's 77:48 was also under the old record, briefly held by Trabuco Hills from 2006.  For added emphasis, Loyola held off Thousand Oaks in Division II, establishing a new divisional team time record of 78:04 as well.  Dana Hills stole the show on that day, but the all-time lists needed some serious readjusting with three of the top five team times taking place at the 2008 State Meet! 

Arcadia Ascends to the Throne

While the 2009 State Meet witnessed the first time that five squads ran faster than 79 minutes as a team, it was the 2010 State Championships that continues to rule as one of the most competitive ever!  As we saw six squads run faster than 78:30 for the first time, it was the Apaches of Arcadia that left everybody speechless.  In the only race in State Meet history where three boys in the same race broke 14:50, Ammar Moussa's 14:43 led his squad with his individual victory while Sergio Gonzalez crossed at 15:02 as their second scorer!  As the first squad to have all five scorers in under 15:40, the Jim O'Brien-coached squad shattered all past expectations with an astonishing 76:12 performance! That performance obliterated the Dana Hills mark from 2008 by more than 17 seconds ... per scorer ... with an average of 15:14 per boy!   Riding Arcadia's fumes, four other squads crossed under 78:30 in that same race! 

Going into the 2019 season, this squad was considered the best ever as they also ended the season ranked atop the national rankings.  After placing second to Trabuco Hills in 2011, Arcadia claimed the State title in 2012 with a 77:00 team time making it the first program to break 78 in two different State Meets!  Arcadia returned in 2013 to win another State championship (77:28).  After 2013, Arcadia owned the THREE fastest team times in State Meet history!  

Great Oak's Boys Catch Up To The Girls

After continuous seasons of watching the girls grab the headlines, Great Oak captured its first boys' State title in 2014 with a 101-107 victory over Dana Hills. The 2015 team made it's mark as the first squad to have three boys break 15:10 (Spencer Dodds - 15:00, Cole Spencer - 15:05, Isaac Cortes - 15:06)With their fourth scorer crossing in 15:20, Great Oak out-leaned Arcadia's 76:12 State Meet team time record from 2010. If you remember, this same group went on to the national record for the 4 x Mile the following spring. Once again, Dana Hills played runners-up to Great Oak, while recording a 77:01 team time that ranked fourth on the all-time list.  

Still shaking our heads at the reality that is -- Doug Soles has orchestrated the best combined program ever in national history! Great Oak's boys have now captured SIX consecutive Division I State championships (while the girls have eight total, including a streak of seven in a row from 2012-18)!  After last year's state title, the Great Oak boys now own three of the five fastest times in State Meet history while their past five titles are ranked in the top 40.  

Newbury Park Smashes Great Oak's Record

With Great Oak expanding on Arcadia's success and elevating all expectations, Sean Brosnan signed on to be the head coach of Newbury Park and the rest is, as they say is  ... history!  Bolstered by one of the best distance runners in national history, Nico Young led Brosnan's boys squad to an eye-popping 75:28 team time in last year's Division II State Championship race.  In an epic battle with Great Oak at the Clovis Invite, the crew already established a new Woodward Park 5K record at 76:05.  

With Young matching his 14:29 from the invite, the rest of the crew improved by a combined 32 seconds to absolutely put the record out of reach and unfathomable!  Jace Aschbrenner became the fastest 'second scorer' in State Meet history with his 14:54 while Colin Sahlman (15:10), Nicholas Goldstein (15:17), and Daniel Appleford (15:38) slammed the door on their own course record.  

(Aschbrenner's time ranks as the fastest non-winning time in D-II history and the fifth-fastest time among non-winners in meet history.)

Can a 75:28 be broken??  Once upon a time, we questioned whether Thousand Oak's 77:59 could be touched. That time now ranks No. 19 on the all-time list. Dana Hills' upped the standard to 77:38 in 2008, but that only lasted two years and now ranks outside the top 10. The increased depth and expectation level for this generation of runners is unlike any other we have ever witnessed!  Arroyo's 78:23 at that first State Meet continues to hold its own, but even so, it's holding onto a top-40 spot ... for now.  

Dana Hills - Special Recognition 

Already a powerhouse under the tutelage of Tim Butler before 1987, the State Championships allowed the Dolphins another platform by which to showcase their success.  Despite Butler moving on several years ago, the program continues to roll out the accolades when they finished second to Newbury Park with an astounding 77:14 team time (ninth-best all-time). Unmatched, they have 10 teams under 79-minutes on the all-time list and boast three in the top 11.  They were there on the podium in the beginning, earning a runner-up spot to Arroyo in 1987 and returning in '88 to claim a State title.  Since 2000, the Dolphins have claimed top-three finishes 14 times!  On top of claiming the Division I titles from 2007-2009, they have a streak of seven consecutive years of coming home with a top three plague!  

Division Progression

Below, we highlight how ALL five divisions have progressed over the past 25 State Championships by taking the average time in five-year increments. The only outlier here is found with the Division III boys over the past five seasons.  Coincidentally, we witnessed the same trend with the Division III girls.  Times seem to have leveled off with the top two divisions while we continue to see increased depth with the smaller divisions.    

Division I Boys10th place25th place50th place100th place

Division II Boys10th place25th place50th place100th place

Division III Boys10th place25th place50th place100th place

Division IV Boys10th place25th place50th place100th place
Division V Boys10th place25th place50th place100th place

1) Newbury Park - 75:28 (2019)
2) Great Oak - 76:10 (2015)
3) Arcadia - 76:12 (2010)
4) Great Oak - 76:26 (2019)
5) Great Oak - 76:49 (2018)
6) Arcadia - 77:00 (2012)
7) Dana Hills - 77:01 (2015)
8) West Ranch - 77:05 (2018)
9) Dana Hills - 77:14 (2019)
10) Arcadia - 77:28 (2013)

11) Dana Hills - 77:38 (2008)
12) Ventura - 77:43 (2014)
13) Buchanan - 77:48 (2008)
14) Newbury Park - 77:51 (2018)
15) La Costa Canyon - 77:55 (2018)
15) Dublin - 77:55 (2017)
15) Trabuco Hills - 77:55 (2006)
18) Bellarmine Prep - 77:58 (2019)
19) Thousand Oaks - 77:59 (1993)
20) Loyola - 78:01 (2010)
20) Great Oak - 78:01 (2017)

22) Eleanor Roosevelt - 78:04 (2017)
22) Loyola - 78:04 (2008)
24) Buchanan - 78:06 (2010)
25) Jurupa Hills - 78:10 (2014)
26) Royal - 78:11 (2005)
26) Trabuco Hills - 78:11 (2011)
28) Royal - 78:12 (2006)
29) Madera South - 78:13 (2015)
29) Brea Olinda - 78:13 (2014)

31) Great Oak - 78:14 (2016)
32) Dana Hills - 78:16 (2010)
33) Trabuco Hills - 78:18 (2010)
34) Arcadia - 78:19 (2011)
35) El Toro - 78:21 (2010)
36) Dublin - 78:22 (2019)
37) Arroyo - 78:23 (1987)
38) Mountain View - 78:26 (2009)
38) Arcadia - 78:26 (2009)
40) Dana Hills - 78:28 (2018)

41) Jesuit - 78:32 (2015)
41) Canyon, Ana. - 78:32 (2015)
41) Claremont - 78:32 (2019)
44) Brea Olinda - 78:33 (2015)
44) Maria Carrillo - 78:33 (2019)
46) Thousand Oaks - 78:35 (2008)
46) Madera South - 78:35 (2014)
48) Carlsbad - 78:39 (2012)
48) Dana Hills - 78:39 (2014)
50) Royal - 78:40 (2009)

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Photos by Jeffrey Parenti, Pat Rhames, Raymond Tran, DeAnna Turner, Eric Paul Zamara

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Share your memories of the 1987 State Meet

Were you an athlete, coach, organizer who took part in the first CIF-State Cross Country Championships in 1987? We'd love to share your memories of that meet and that experience. Feel free to email