At the Class 5A, Section 2 Meet in Oxford on Nov. 1, the Douglas boys team qualified for state as a team and Ximena Ayala qualified as an individual from the girls team.
The boys team, which came in third in the Section 2 event, has not qualified in over seven years. The boys ended the season ranked 12th in the state in 5A.
The teams both set goals at the beginning of the season. Those included team members setting personal records and the boys qualifying for state. The boys did reach their goal.
At practice Monday, the boys asked first-year head coach Isabella Wisener what they were supposed to do because they achieved their goals. The team set new goals for how to compete at state, which is Saturday at Oakville Indian Mounds Park in Danville.
Wisener has loved coaching this team.
“Every day kids show up for practice,” Wisener said. “I’ve got kids I share with the band, club soccer and other sports, and yet they still find a way to run their miles and it paid off.
“There’s been a lot of interest on both teams, and we had girls who had PRs at sectional even though the team did not qualify. Ximena has consistently run well and has been at practice making sure that she would be ready for this meet.”
The DHS boys feature a deep roster of runners who are interested in long distance running. Wisener said the 10 who competed in the section meet consistently push each other at practice and in meets.
“They may not finish in the same order, but they are pushing each other and stepping up when one of their teammates is out,” she said.
“The teams competing in the section were very good. Because of the cold, 1A-6A ran together, so it was difficult to calculate how the Eagles were finishing. The look on the boys’ faces when it was announced they qualified was awesome.”
Jayden Villanueva, a sophomore, paced the Eagles with a 12th-place finish. Steven Garcia came in 16th and Oscar Conriquez 20th.
Wisener’s assistant coach is her father, David.
“There’s a sense of pride and sense of family on both of these teams,” said Stephanie Wisener, a team spokesperson. “David and Isabella discussed frequently how much fun it was to coach these teams.
“When kids want to be there, a coach already has an advantage. When the kids like each other and pick each other up, that’s another advantage. These teams had both.
“These teams had the support of the parents, several community members and administrators, which also made the program successful. Isabella and David both talked about how much they learned from these kids by coaching them. Coaching the kids made them better people and coaches.”