Poll: Greatest CIF-State Boys XC Champion

Big Bear's Ryan Hall (pictured below) is one of the four semifinalists in this poll to determine the greatest CIF-State Cross Country boys champion joining (from left above) Nico Young, Ammar Moussa and Cooper Teare. Semifinal voting is underway. (Photos by DeAnna Turner, Paul Zamara, Ben Crawford)

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And then there were four. 

Quarterfinal winners were Nico Young over German Fernandez, in a battle between the fastest two runners ever on the Woodward Park course at the State Meet; Cooper Teare over Liam Anderson, in a battle between two double state champions; Ryan Hall over Mark Matusak, in a battle between the oldest remaining two champions, and Ammar Moussa over Anthony Grover, in a battle between a two-time sub-15 champion and the last of the rare four three-time champions. 

The objective is simply for you to determine the greatest CIF-State boys cross country champion. We have gone through the 33-year history of the State Meet, pulled out the greatest 32 champions, seeded them generally by accomplishment, and placed them in a tournament-style bracket. Your votes have so far cut the field down to a very elite eight, albeit eliminating five the original top eight seeds in the process. Who will advance to the championship? It's up to you.

While these are all great California cross country champions, there will be only one Greatest CIF-State Boys Cross Country Champion winner from this poll tournament!

  • Semifinal voting is underway.
  • Voting has been EXTENDED to Saturday at 10 p.m.


The CIF-State Cross Country Championships were held for the first time in 1987 with three divisions. Division IV was first contested at the State Meet in 1990 and Division V was added for the 1996 championships.The meet always has been held on the 5,000-meter course at Woodward Park in Fresno.


How did we narrow down the initial list to the "greatest" 32 State Meet champions?

First off, remember this poll only includes former CIF-State Meet cross country champions. Runners--up were not considered, regardless of their time.

  • There are four three-time champions and 23 two-time champions, all of whom were automatically entered.
  • There are eight boys who have run sub-14:50 and another nine who have State Meet-winning times between 14:50 and 14:59. Any of those who were not multiple-year champions also are included.
  • There are three boys whose State-winning time was 15 minutes flat and another three at 15:01. The three at 15 flat were added but those at 15:01 pushed us to 33 qualifiers, one over the total.
  • Of those who ran 15:01, one was a three-time champion (auto-qualifier) and the other two were single-year winners. Of those two, we looked at ranking in the merge of that year's meet to decide the final spot in the 32-runner bracket.
  • There was one year where 15:01 was fastest in the merge and one where that time was only the third-fastest. Being the fastest at the State Meet while running a time that ranks among the top 23 all-time among champions, warranted a spot in the tournament.


The 32 selected boys champions were grouped in tiers of four generally based on accomplishment, and listed alphabetically within each tier. Athletes were then placed in brackets based on tier matchups: Tier 1 runners versus Tier 8 runners matched up 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3.


(Remaining athletes are listed alphabetically)

Ryan Hall (Big Bear/SS) - Two-time champion, winning Division IV titles in 1999 and 2000. His winning time in '00 of 14:50 was No. 1 in the merge that year and ranks as the ninth-fastest among State Meet champions. ... Ran 15:24 to win in '99, a time that still ranked No. 2 in the merge.

  • Ryan's Road to the Semis: Defeated Yong-Sung Leal (San Lorenzo Arroyo/NC) by 113 votes in the first round, defeated Phillip Rocha (Arcadia/SS) by 14 votes in the second round, defeated Mark Matusak (Loyola/SS) by 70 votes in the quarterfinal round.

Ammar Moussa (Arcadia/SS) - Two-time champion, winning Division I titles in 2009-10. ... Ran 14:43 to win in 2010 and 14:59 to win in '09. ... One of only eight to win while running sub-14:50 and one of 17 to win while running sub-15:00. ... One of only two to win two titles while running sub-15 for both. ... Moussa is tied with another Arcadia product, Phillip Rocha, with the third-fastest State-title winning time ever.

  • Ammar's Road to the Semis: Defeated Daniel Milechman (Tamalpias/NC) by 36 votes in the first round, defeated Scott Hempel (Walnut/SS) by 36 votes in the second round, defeated Anthony Grover (JSerra/SS) by 27 votes in the quarterfinal round.

Cooper Teare (St. Joseph Notre Dame/NC) -Two-time champion, winning Division V titles in 2015 and '16. ... Winning time in '16 of 14:59 is one of 17 to ever win a State title running sub-15, and ranks tied for 15th among all-State champions. ... Ran 15:08 to win in '15.

  • Cooper's Road to the Semis: Defeated Callum Bolger (San Luis Obispo/CS) by 58 votes in the first round, defeated Bryan Dameworth (Agoura/SS) by 13 votes in the second round, defeated Liam Anderson (Redwood/NC) by 24 votes in the quarterfinal round.

Nico Young (Newbury Park/SS) - Two-time champion, winning Division II titles in 2018-19. ... Ran 14:29 to win in 2019, the second-fastest ever run at the State Meet. ... Ran 15:00 to win in 2018. ... One of only eight to ever win a title running sub-14:50 and one of only two to win while running sub-14:30.

  • Nico's Road to the Semis: Defeated Austin Fritzke (Mt. Shasta/NS) by 69 votes in the first round, defeated Caleb Webb (Big Bear/SS) by 55 votes in the second round, defeated German Fernandez (Riverbank/SJ) by 40 votes in the quarterfinal round.




Voting extended to SATURDAY (10/24) at 10 p.m.

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Hall image credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times/2001/via Newspapers.com