Vikings Attack at Mt. SAC

Varsity Boys win 1st Place!!!!!!! -Oct 23, 2022

WALNUT, CA — After a weekend off from racing, the Valencia Vikings Cross Country team tested their fitness at the famous Mt. SAC XC Invite in Walnut. Met with a cool, breezy, and partly cloudy day, the Vikings welcomed to beginning of Fall weather and just missed a late heatwave that would have upped the stakes on this challenging and hilly course.

The three-mile course begins on the Airstrip where runners need to get out to a quick start before traversing a couple of laps on the “Valley Loop” for the first mile. The course then immediately ascends the Switchbacks for arguably the toughest hill on the course. A long descent behind the recently renovated Hilmer Lodge Stadium returns the racers to the crossover for a trip up Poopout Hill, a short, but steep ascent. By the start of the third mile, racers are on the lonely, back section before being challenged by the last and longest ascent, Reservoir Hill. The peak of Reservoir Hill signals 800m remaining consisting of a steep descent, a return trip on the grass next to the Airstrip, and a final push through the Gauntlet to the last uphill kicker immediately before the finish.

Kami Grossman led out the Varsity Lady Vikes looking smooth and controlled around the Valley Loops. She raced with the front pack, held her position in the middle mile and finished strong for 5th place at 18:52. The ladies showed their strength with a solid group of three supporting Kami’s upfront performance. Lauren Tran was next across the line at 21:03; she was almost 4 and a half minutes better than her performance here last year! Frosh Liana Sushinksy must love the hills! Her more aggressive first mile kept her in contact with her teammates and she conquered the trio of hills to finish with a season best time (21:09) on a tough course. Senior Gianna Iezza showed her composure and ran a smartly paced race to be in the mix at 21:22. Maria Lopez (22:53) had a solid race running very evenly and moving up in the pack in the latter half. Sam Armitage (23:45) also improved by 4 and a half minutes from last year! Joon Kim had a tough race working through some sore shins and bike crash but toughed out a 26:45, a 47 second improvement from her 2021 performance. These ladies are consistently improving; their grit and persistence should have the league competitors on notice as they look to jump up the standings next week.

As the Lady Vikings were finishing, the Varsity Boys team stormed off the line well positioned as they hit the dirt of the opening loops. Ayden Buchanan settled in the front pack for the first mile, waiting to push the crest of the hills and roll the downs. Battling out to be the first individual, his 15:47 placed him second in the race and earned him a nine second improvement from last year. The ever-consistent Tyler Chang was next across the line finishing third and impressing with his 15:54. Grant Young ran a lifetime PR for three miles with a 16:13 and Emilio Oviedo’s performance was one of the top Frosh of the day with a 16:37. More course bests followed with Noah Flores slotting in as the last scorer (17:25) and seniors Davis Simonian (17:27) and Jake Brooke (17:37) right on his heels. The Vikings took a close victory in the race with a 2-point win over second! These boys are healthy and firing on all cylinders ready to take on all comers as the high-stakes races approach in the coming weeks.

The Freshmen Boys Vikings first attempt at the hallowed Mt. SAC course showed their work this season has tendered strong legs and robust aerobic capacity. Alex Basin led the bunch with a well-paced effort, passing over a dozen competitors in the final 2 miles finishing at 18:38. Luis Torres-Orrala (18:54) was next for the Vikes as he popped a huge race, dropping nearly a minute from his PR and breaking 19 minutes for the first time! Adam Sandoval is back after struggling with some nagging injuries these past few weeks; his solid 19:40 shows he is ready to finish out the season strong. After a fast start, Lincoln Gabbard held on to finish at 19:51. Nehemiah Pop was another huge PR for the Vikings today running 20:19 and dropping two minutes from his previous best! Jake Robideau showed his consistency with a 20:20 and Emad Ahmed rounded out the Frosh Vikings with an over 90 second PR at 22:55. This group’s continuous improvement and consistent efforts will be sure to result in some hot performances at their last race of the season next week.

A small but dedicated group of Lady Vikings lined up on the Airstrip for the sophomore girl’s race looking to show their deposits of plyometrics and intervals would pay dividends over this tough course. Hannah Aina led this group looking smooth and controlled throughout while attacking the downhills. Her 23:34 effort was over a minute off her time from last season! Gracie Brooke finished with a PR at 25:35 after a smooth and even performance. Sophie Tran (27:25) and Emily Stimac (29:24) both conquered the course for the first time and rounded out the Soph Vikings group both looking to build on their solid performances in this penultimate race.

Final race of the day for the Vikings had the JV Boys hungry to gobble up the buffet of challenges the Mt. SAC course had to offer. Marcus Espinosa pushed the first half of the race and was in the top 10 at the 2-mile mark; he finished at 18:27 a personal best on this course by 47 seconds. Cruz Lanzer also dropped nearly a minute from last year with his 19:04. Jacob Kunz was really rolling on the descents using his long stride to keep his momentum and finished at 19:11. Cole Lanzer was hot on his heels at 19:16. Damien Turner (20:29) and Justin Yuh (20:45) worked as a duo for the first two miles and pushed each other to drop over a minute from their efforts last year. This group is primed and ready to take it to the next level at the season finale at COC.

Next week at the Foothill League Finals, many of the Vikings will be looking to finish out the season with a bang. The varsity squads will be sizing up the competition and eyeing a spot in the post season and a return to the Mt. SAC venue for Southern Section CIF prelims in November.

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