Mountain View's boys cross country team entered Saturday's Division I state meet understandably optimistic about its chances to dethrone defending champ Phoenix Alhambra.
Mountain View steadily improved all season, and with all the focus and pressure on Alhambra, the Toros felt like they could sneak up and catch the rest of the field by surprise.
The Toros left Cave Creek Golf Course with their heads high, but also with the runner-up trophy.
Alhambra finished with three runners in the top 11 while Mountain View's top three finished in the top 19 and it was enough for the defending champs to win another title, 102-112.
"I told our guys there would be no shame if we showed up, stuck our nose in there and competed," Mountain View coach Kris Alexander said. "We did that. We ran for each other. We didn't win, but we definitely showed that we came to fight."
R.J. Massey led the Toros with a 10th place finish in the team scoring (11th overall), covering the 3.1-mile race in 16:20. Teammates Blake Cowan (16:31) and Dallin Gherkins (16:32) finished 18th and 19th, respectively.
Jorge Martinez, the defending individual state champ, led Alhambra with a 3rd place finish in 16:03. Alhambra's No. 2 and 3 runners finished 5th and 11th, respectively.
"We knew that on any day anyone can be beat. That's why you come to the startline," said Alexander, whose team finished third a season ago. "They beat us today. We had a very good day, but they were just a little better."
Cibola sophomore Bernie Montoya continued his two-week surprise run, earning the individual title in 15:38.
Montoya used a late surge to get past Phoenix Brophy's Will Firth, who placed second at 15:54. Firth took the lead with about 800 meters to go, but was unable to hold off Montoya, who also won last week's sectional meet.
"I really had not heard of him until last week," said Firth, who had been undefeated on the season until sectionals. "When he passed me I didn't have anything left. I made my move when I wanted, and had a really good day, but couldn't hold it at the end. I tried to push again, but my legs wouldn't go.
"I had a great season. Coming in second at state is disappointing, but I can't complain."
Desert Vista finished third in the team standings with 117 points, and was followed by Corona del Sol (148), last year's runner-up, and Cibola (152).
Ryan Maack paced the Thunder with a 7th place finish (16:14) and teammate Ryan Dykstra was 9th (18:18).
For Corona, Jared Hirschl used a late surge to place 4th (16:10). Skyline's Fermin Villagran turned in an 8th place performance (16:15) as well.