Andreas Dybdahl was the top finisher for Santa Barbara High’s boys cross country team in the Division 2 race at the CIF State Cross Country Championships in Fresno. (Courtesy photo)

Santa Barbara High’s cross country team made a solid debut at the CIF State Championships on Saturday, placing in the top 10 in the Division 2 race.

The Dons finished in eighth place in a division that was won by the powerhouse Newbury Park team. It was the fourth straight title for the Panthers.

For Santa Barbara, the top-10 finish was an incredible accomplishment.

“These guys have run above their seed the entire postseason,” said SBHS coach Olivia Perdices. “We were barely in the top 10 of the Southern Section to start the year, so eighth at state is pretty gratifying. At the same time, the underclassmen can’t wait to try and top it.”

Newbury Park runners took the top three places and its fourth runner place seventh en route to 24 points. Lex Young was the individual champion in 14:27 on the three-mile course at Fresno’s Woodward Park. His brother, Leo, was second in 14:38 and Aaron Sahlman was third in 14:41.  Dev Doshi was seventh in 15:17.

Livermore’s Granada High of the CIF North Coast Section came in second place with 99 points and Ventura was third with 129. Rocklin’s Whitney of the Sac-Joaquin Section was the fourth-place team (182 points), followed by Mira Costa (211), Larkspur-Redwood of the North Coast (218), Tesoro (220), Santa Barbara (283), Grossmont (284) and Saugus (314).

Andreas Dybdahl was Santa Barbara’s top finisher, placing 25th in 15:45.9. Cainan Birchim (55th, 16:10.5) and Oliver Levine (62nd, 16:18) finished in the top 70. Blaise Snow (105, 16:47.1) and Nicholas Tassos (117, 17:00.6) rounded out the scoring. Also running were Bode Andrulaitis (136, 17:16.2) and Jack Garza (156, 17:34.2).

“Those are significant course bests for six of the guys. Andreas has been phenomenal all year and Cainan and Oliver were absolutely clutch today,” said Perdices. “Really, though, it’s our depth that’s our strength. We’ve had different guys step up all along the way. Today, Jack and Bode were out there beating a lot of scorers from other teams. That makes a huge difference in championship racing.

“It’s been a great ride making some Dons history with these guys. I can’t thank the seniors, Jack, Oliver and Drew, enough. They’ve truly given of themselves for their teammates every step of the way. I’m also excited for what the future 
holds for the boys coming back.”

Oliver Levine was Santa Barbara’s No. 3 finisher at Woodward Park.

Oliver Levine was Santa Barbara’s No. 3 finisher at Woodward Park. (Courtesy photo)

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.