Jeff Wrout can’t say enough nice things about Geno Arthur, a senior on the Rio Mesa High boys’ cross country team.
“He’s a great student. He’s a great kid,” said Wrout, who’s in his 19th season coaching the Spartans.
“He’s the type of kid we don’t get to coach that often. Don’t get me wrong—we have a lot of great kids. Kids that talented and who work that hard, we don’t get that often. He’s very humble. He’s a great role model.”
Arthur, a senior, is off to a rollicking start for Rio Mesa.
His first place overall finish at Mission Oaks Park in 15 minutes, 53 seconds helped the Spartans beat Camarillo in the first of three Pacific View League meets.
Arthur also wrapped up the Seaside Invitational in 15:27, the second-best mark in school history at the course. Spartan legend Phillip Reid, arguably the most prolific runner in Rio Mesa history, holds the school record at Seaside.
Arthur’s times at Lake Casitas (15:54) and Mt. SAC (15:47) last season are the second best marks for a runner in Wrout’s tenure, trailing only Reid.
“He’s the second-fastest kid I’ve ever had,” the coach said of Arthur. “He’s one of the most consistent runners I’ve ever seen.”
The senior pacesetter is enjoying this season, thanks to his teammates.
“We want to win,” the 17-yearold said. “There’s such a great team atmosphere. I love that aspect of it.”
Topping Camarillo for the first time in his time at RMHS was also sweet.
“It’s nice,” Arthur said. “Beating Camarillo was probably my favorite race. I’ve won races before, but it was exciting to see my teammates run well.
“I finished and then I automatically looked to see where they were. . . . Camarillo’s still a great team.”
The Spartans will square off against the Scorpions and the rest of the Pacific View schools today at Moorpark College for the second league meet.
Arthur, a four-year varsity runner, has improved every season. Early in his career, he ran a steady, conservative pace, saving his bursts of speed for the finish.
These days, he’s firing out of the chute.
“I’m running with more confi dence during races,” he said. “If I go out strong at the beginning, I know I can keep up the pace.”
He relishes attacking hills with the gusto of Don Quixote charging windmills.
“Hills, that’s where he excels,” Wrout said.
Teammates enjoy competing with Arthur.
“His confidence is contagious,” senior Andrew Graham said. “He doesn’t make it a one-man show. He could if he wanted to.”
The Spartans appreciate Arthur’s relaxed attitude.
“ He’s a really chill guy,” junior Jose Saucedo said. “He’s kind of my inspiration. I see him at the top and he makes me want to try harder.”
Connor Soudani, a senior, also speaks highly of Arthur.
“He’s very encouraging,” Soudani said. “He doesn’t shoot you down if you have a bad race. He keeps a positive mindset: ‘We’re a good team no matter what happens in a race.’”
The Spartans hope Arthur propels Rio Mesa to a memorable postseason jaunt.
After reaching CIF-Southern Section Division 2 preliminaries in 2010, the team moved down to Division 3 this season.
Rio Mesa hopes to reach the section finals and earn a berth to the state meet.
“ If we keep improving,” Arthur said, “we can be a statecaliber team.”
School comes first for this Spartan, who has the secondhighest cumulative grade-point average in the senior class. He had his only B as a freshman.
Arthur takes International Baccalaureate classes in chemistry, calculus English and Spanish.
He’d like to study biochemistry in college. He’s been looking at Westmont College for academics and athletics. He has the potential to compete for an Ivy League institution.
The Spartan started running long-distance races in eighth grade, after he got cut from the basketball team at Monte Vista Middle School.
He ran three cross country races that year. He finished only one varsity race as a freshman before breaking his arm while attempting to jump over a fence.
Now all Arthur can do is run.
“I love cross country because it’s so painful,” he said.
“When you stop running, when the pain is gone and when you know you gave it all you had—the feeling afterward is so great. It makes the pain all worth it.”