Rookie of the Year: Miguel Villar
School: Madera South
Setting the pace: His time of 15 minutes, 36 seconds over Woodward Park's 3.1-mile course for third in the Central Section Division I final tied his section freshman class record and is No. 7 all-time in the state for rookies. He was 29th in the state D-I race at 15:49.
Observing in "awe": Madera South, a rising state power under coach Rich Parris, was marching toward a fifth consecutive section title last year. And this didn't go unnoticed by Villar as a runner for Desmond Intermediate in the Madera Unified District: "I was always fascinated, in awe how fast they were. I looked up to them dearly and never pictured myself running with them. But (Desmond) coach Benny Madrigal always let us know how (Madera South) was doing weekly. And he said to me, 'You should be up there.' My coaches always believed in me. And now I realize, age doesn't matter; it's about heart and how much you want it, then anything's possible."
He said it: "Within 11/2 miles to go, he puts himself in another zone. He'll push, push and push, wind up and get it. He's a real smart racer. Give him a plan, he thinks about it and how he's going to do it. He's a kid, but has the utmost respect for upperclassmen on the team. He's like no other freshman I've dealt with."
— Stallions coach Rich Parris