Isaac Chavez had a modest goal for the 5,000-kilometer race at the Arcadia Invitational — finish around the 15 minute-mark.
The Chico State bound runner far exceeded that goal and put himself among some rare company with his second-place, 14-minute, 44.33-second finish on Saturday at Arcadia High School. Barstow High School senior Andrew Romano also ran the race and finished at 15:41.45 in 16th place.
Chavez posted the fastest time for a California runner and the fifth fastest time ever in the two-year history of the race.
"I was just going for 15 flat," Chavez said. "I knew it was going to be a fast race. I just tried to stay with the leader."
Chavez was well aware of his main competition, Trevor Dunbar. The Alaskan runner grabbed Chavez's attention during cross country season when Dunbar was ranked the No. 2 runner in the country. Both runners started out of the gate aggressively. Dunbar finished at 14:33.96, but Chavez kept with him for the first couple laps.
"It feels great to run in a race with Dunbar," Chavez said. "It makes me fell pretty good about where I'm at in my training right now."
After Dunbar took off, third place finisher Garrett Rowe and Chavez traded places throughout the race. Rowe took a sizable lead midrace only to have Chavez gain ground lap by lap.
Romano wasn't as satisfied with his results. He kept a similar pace to Chavez early in the race but said he tried to make a move too soon.
"I went too fast on a couple laps where I should have stayed the same," Romano said. "If I were to do it again, I'd do a lot better. It was just one of those races."
The race was the last 5k of the season for Chavez and Romano. Both will be aiming to qualify for the 3,200-meter race at CIF, and Barstow coach Mark Hassell said the runners' results bode well for qualifying for the CIF race. Chavez and Romano are aiming to race around the nine-minute mark in the event.
"We are close," Hassell said. "We are close to getting that time."