Cross-country leaves competition in the dust as the Cubs begin postseason

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By Griffin Cappelletti

The varsity cross-country Cubs, currently ranked fourth in CIF Southern Section Division II, are eager and prepared to finish their strong season positively; and the team is ready to sustain its intense practice schedule through the end of the season, according to head coach Mr. Lalo Diaz.

Coach Diaz commented on the Cubs’ endurance, “The team has been successful this year because we have continued the training we started early this summer,” he said.

Even after graduating key leaders from last year’s team, including captains Robert Brandt, Nicolaus Jakowec, and William Antonoplis, Coach Diaz looks to this year’s team to come out on top in both the Mission League and CIF Southern Section. He would also like to place in the top three at State Finals later this month.

PHOTO BY BETH ROY

PHOTO BY BETH ROY

On Saturday, Aug. 29, the Cubs began the season with the annual Blue and White Meet. The following week on Saturday, Sept. 5, the team officially opened the season with an overall first place finish at the Cerritos Invitational.  

Commenting on the early meets, junior Chris Roy said, “The few early meets in the season gave every runner a baseline of where they stood along with the opportunity to set goals for the rest of the year, so everyone could improve on their early races.”

The team continued the season with the Rosemead Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 12. A power failure caused the lights to go out during the junior race. After the lights failed, bystanders created a pathway for runners to complete the race. The senior race was canceled due to lack of light after the junior race finished.  

According to junior captain Charlie Sherman, the power outage inspired the Cubs to run better than before, and the team was able to do so because of their rigorous training throughout the early months of the season. Coach Diaz said, “The juniors came in fourth place overall, but Charlie Sherman, Adrian Jauregui, and Alejandro Salinas were impressive individually. The sophomores won their race, led by Shane Bissell, Corey Kumamoto, and Joshua Ma.”

After the Rosemead Invitational, the Cubs raced in the Mt. Carmel Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 19. Shortly after on Tuesday, Sept. 22, the team ran in the first Mission League cluster meet of the season. With dominant individual performances from senior team captain Jonathan Piñon; junior Charlie Sherman; and sophomores Bissell, Ma, and Kumamoto, the team placed first overall in both meets, according to Coach Diaz.  

Piñon said, “I was pleased with how the team performed at Mt. Carmel and in the [Mission League] cluster meet. Both were great warm-ups for the Mt. SAC meet, which was only a couple weeks later.”

Sherman added, “We overcame setbacks in many of our meets this year. Mt. Carmel and the [Mission League] cluster meet  occurred on really hot days, and during the Rosemead race, the lights went out, so throughout the season we have been able to overcome a lot and stay successful.”

On Saturday, Sept. 26, the Cubs continued their season with a first place finish at the Bell-Jeff Invitational at Griffith Park. Coach Diaz was impressed by the packing amongst senior Preston Ortiz, junior Alejandro Salinas, and sophomore Shane Bissell. The team then went on to win the San Gabriel One-on-One Challenge Championship on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Following the San Gabriel Challenge, the Cubs ran in the second Mission League cluster meet of the season on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at Griffith Park. Individual Cubs placed first through third and fifth through seventh, which significantly bolstered the team’s overall score, leading to a first place finish, according to Coach Diaz.

The Cubs then raced in the Mt. SAC Invitational, one of the largest high school cross-country meets in the country, on Saturday, Oct. 24. Coach Diaz was impressed with the Cubs at the Mt. SAC Invitational as he noted, “There was great packing between seniors Preston Ortiz and Jonathan Piñon, who finished with the same time at Mt. SAC. Juniors Charlie Sherman and Alejandro Salinas also had positive individual performances.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the team competed in the Mission League Finals at Crescenta Valley Park in La Crescenta. The team finished first overall with the help of individual Cubs placing second through fifth, seventh, and eighth. Also, six Cubs earned All-Mission League Honors including, seniors Piñon, Ortiz, and Shane Martin; juniors Sherman and Salinas; and sophomore Bissell.  

The cross-country team will finish its season with the CIF Finals at Mt. SAC on Saturday, Nov. 21, and the State Finals at Woodward Park on Saturday, Nov. 28.

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