TERRE HAUTE – Jesus Garcia capped his fantastic junior season with one of the best performances a Zionsville cross country runner has ever had at the State Meet.

Garcia placed fourth overall in the race, tied for the best finish by an Eagle ever, crossing the line in 15:41.4.

“It felt amazing to race like that,” Garcia said. “There was a lot of great competition out there. I tried my best to keep up with the lead pack and did the best that I could.”

Garcia finished 23rd last season in his first season of cross country.

He said in the race Saturday, he wanted to make sure he got out with the lead pack and put himself in a good position early.

“The goal was to keep up with that front pack and stay with them as long as I could,” Garcia said. “I did the best that I could doing that, and I was happy with it.”

Garcia dropped 35 seconds from his time last year and capped off a fantastic season which saw him win the HCC, sectional and regional titles, and place second in the semi-state.

He said Saturday that this season was a big boost for him overall to take that next step.

“Looking at some of my times and seeing how much I improved every single race, that was a huge confidence boost for me,” Garcia said. “I trained harder this year, and we really upped the miles and intensity in practice. I really put everything I had into the race.”

Zionsville head coach Gabe Porras said that Garcia had a fantastic year.

“He executed his plan very well,” Porras said. “I am excited to see what he does this track season and into next year.”

As a team, the Eagles placed 12th overall.

They were just one point from 11th and within striking distance of the top-10.

“Jesus doing what he did was awesome,” Porras said. “We had a lot of guys go out there and really battle hard today. I am proud of their efforts today and what they did all year. They have continued to set the standard of where we should be and I am proud of everything they have done this year.”

Robby Pratt finished 68th in a time of 16:37.4. Logan Cole was 90th in a time of 16:48.9.

Jack Sampson was 141st in 17:12.1, with Will Pitts placing 156th in 17:18.8.

Decatur Dell placed 172nd in 17:34.4, with Matthew Helton placing 175th in 17:36.9.

“This group rose up on a lot of occasions,” Porras said. “With any sport, there are challenges, and this group faced all challenges and put their best foot forward at any opportunity they were given.”

It was the final race at Zionsville for Pratt, Sampson and Pitts.

Porras said they have helped raise the level of the program in their four years.

“Before this group, we had never made state in back-to-back years,” Porras said. “Now no one on the team doesn’t know what it’s like not to end the year at the State Finals, which is a testament to their hard work and everything they have done for the program.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.

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