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Cross Country State Meet Awaits Hodges Brothers
In a season that has included its fair share of ups and downs, the Riverbank Bruins boys cross country program will look to close out the campaign with a positive showing from brothers Jacob and Ben Hodges at the 2008 CIF State Cross Country Championships in Fresno on Saturday, Nov. 29.

Riverbank will only have two representatives this season, a far cry from their usual team berth into the event, but those two will not be solely running for themselves. With the entire squad narrowly missing out on its invite, both runners will be representing their entire program.

"For us this year, winning league was a real challenge," Riverbank head coach Bruce Edwards said. "Escalon had a really good team, so us winning league was a really big accomplishment. For our team, there was a let down, because every team has gone on to State."

The Bruins squad wrapped up the Sac-Joaquin Sections with a fourth place finish, one spot shy of advancing as a team, leaving only the top individual placers not on a qualifying team with an opportunity to advance. The Hodges brothers took advantage.

"I expected them to," Edwards admitted of his expectations of the pair advancing. "I really expected Jacob to make it and I knew Ben would be in there near the top.

"Ben's performance was probably a little more surprising that he was able to be way up there."

With a berth into the prestigious State Meet, both brothers have solidified an entire season of training and conditioning, with their opportunity to perform on the state's highest stage for high school distance running.

Earning the trip to Fresno did not come by accident for the Hodges brothers. Both athletes' drive and determination played a key role in their success and that same motivation will lead them on their mission at the State Meet.

"One of the reasons they made it is because they are strong and very determined," Edwards said. "They have background in hard work ethic and they both know how to push themselves when it counts. Also their parents are with them at every meet.

"So you have a real good support system, which is the foundation."

Their resolve was evident during the section meet championship in Folsom where the hilly course proved to be a steep challenge for a great deal of the runners. The up-and-down climb from the Folsom course has been known to add a full minute to runners' times if they allow the course to beat them up mentally.

This obviously was not the case for the Riverbank pair. Now with a berth secured, both brothers will have specific agendas when they hit Woodward Park in Fresno.

"Our expectations are these guys want to get a personal best," Edwards said. "This will be Jacob's fourth year at State and it will be Ben's second, so both of them are going down there to see what kind of time they can run ... because we understand how good the rest of the field is, they just want to run their best times."