Pioneer Valley reflects on winning first Cross Country CIF title

Posted at 8:29 PM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 23:29:34-05

The Pioneer Valley Panthers are adding a new piece of hardware to the trophy closet after winning their first CIF championship in Boys Cross Country.

"Throughout my four years I've been doing Cross Country, this is the best team I've ever been a part of," said senior Luis Campos.

The Panthers are officially CIF champions in Cross Country for the first time in school history.

"It was such a surreal moment," said Cross Country Head Coach Ben Alberry. "I think I'm still in disbelief that we did it. It's something that, as a coach you dream of, winning a championship with your team.

"It's incredible, the outcome, everyone's still in disbelief and it's amazing," said senior Adam Pirkl.

The Panthers finished in first place out of 26 schools during the Division III CIF Championship at Woodward Park in Fresno.

"We have a good team and just winning CIF was a way to prove it," said Campos. "We all just keep that team energy of wanting to be better every day."

The title was a significant turnaround from where the Panthers were one year ago.

"Last year, we finished 16th at CIF," said Alberry. "We were picked to finish even lower than that, and then they rose to the occasion and ended up finishing 16th."

"I think overall it just shows our teamwork, the way we represent our team," said Pirkl. "Everyone works hard, day in, day out."

The journey to the top was followed by months of hard work put in by the Panthers.

"I wanted them to compete as a unit, be one squad, hang out on the weekends, run together," said Alberry. "I think the fact that they did that this year is why they finished the season on top."

"It wasn't just a thing that happened the week of, it was throughout the season, during the summer, we all had to keep each other accountable," said Campos.

"We would run on the weekends, putting in our own time," said Pirkl.

"We could go on to win ten more titles, but nobody will ever be the first, just them," said Alberry.

The Panthers closed their season finishing in 21st place at the state level.