MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Up in the North Valley, Jonathan Chavez is fresh off another cross-country title.
The UC Merced senior just secured his second straight Cal Pac Title at Fresno's Woodward Park, becoming the first back-to-back male champ in conference history.
"He has such a good foundation that I think that's what really got him through it," says head coach Vicente Velarde.
Chavez would grab his title in record time -- 28 seconds faster than the previous conference mark.
"He's been able to compete with NCAA Division II athletes that are some of the best in the nation," Velarde said.
But around a campfire before the season, the team captain had different goals.
"I told the guys and everybody around the campfire to mature more as a person, mature more as a man," Chavez said.
Before this year's cross country campaign even started, Chavez would get thrown a curveball during spring track season.
"The day before we flew out for nationals, I blew out my hamstring," he said.
The doubt would start to creep in.
"Maybe running isn't for me anymore," he said. "I always get to these big meets and something always goes wrong."
For months, Chavez would rehab, until another hurdle was thrown his way days before the conference meet.
"I picked up a 105 fever that held up for three days straight," he said.
Things would only get worse, with Chavez getting sick eight times during the course preview.
Trying his best to sleep, Chavez would wake up at 3 am, just hours before the race.
Not wanting to let his team down, Chavez found himself on the starting line.
"All the doubts that went into the season just went out the window, and I was just here to race," he said. "Let's go show why I'm the defending champion. My teammates believe in me, so why shouldn't I believe in myself?"
Now, the defending champion is headed to NAIA Nationals.
"I want to come back a national champion," Chavez said. "I don't want to just get on that podium -- I think I want to bring it all home."