Vikings Light up the Night at the Rosemead Invitational

Kami’s amazing 1st place finish in the Senior Girls Division and fastest girl’s time of the night. -Sep 11, 2022

ROSEMEAD, CA — The Valencia Vikings Cross Country continued their racing campaign at the 37th annual Rosemead Invitational at Rosemead High School on Saturday night. Greeted by cooler temperatures due to late racing times and a break in the early September heat wave, the Vikings were primed to drop some time from their opening efforts of last week.

The course was just shy of 3 miles of flat, twisting terrain traversing the Rosemead High School campus and the adjacent Rosemead Park (~2.97mi per GPS). Racers were challenged by some thick grass, narrow pathways, sharp corners early in the race, and a dimly lit rubber jogging path through the park. The early pinch points encouraged racers to get out quickly and in a competitive position to avoid being caught behind the pack. Further, races were organized by school year so athletes could see how they stacked up against their similarly aged peers.

First race of the night was the Freshman girls, and their performances set the tone for the evening! Liana Sushinsky (21:05) placed sixth overall with a very strong finishing mile and a season best time with an improvement of over two minutes! Not to be left behind, Maria Lopez (21:21) hung on to her teammate and pushed herself to an almost three-minute improvement from last week. Amazing work ladies!

The Freshman boys, our largest team for the evening, showed the rest of the Vikings how it is done! They finished third as a team with a leading performance by Mills Oviedo (16:16). Oviedo showed his racing experience with a quick first mile to stay in contact with the front group and a solid back half to move up to third at the finish. Lincoln Gabbard (17:49), in his first race as a Viking, kept himself at the pointy end of the stick and finished in an impressive 15th. These two were supported by a solid scoring group with Alex Basin (18:37), Adam Sandoval (19:00!), and Luis Torres-Orrala (19:40) all with huge improvements on their times from last week. Jake Robideau (19:51) and Emad Ahmed (24:37) finished out the team, each also having a solid race and a season best. The team finished only six points from first, showing a bright future for the Vikings on the men’s side.

With the sundown, the glow sticks came out for the Soph girls and the visibility on the course was a bit tough. Valentina Soto Navarette led the bunch with a very controlled and evenly paced 21:47. Hannah Aina finished at 22:15 after a fast start and some aggressive racing while Sam Armitage (22:21) was only a few steps behind her at the finish. Emily Stimac finished her first race of the season at 27:30 and Melody Weber dropped 8 minutes from her time last week to finish at 30:10! This is a sold crew that will be the backbone of the Viking girls team this season.

A small but talented pair of Soph boys took to the line. Noah Flores had a huge break through race busting out a 16:30 for a PR and a 9th place finish! Leo Hicks, stopped for a quick dirt nap at the start, getting tripped up just after the gun and falling on his already injured wrist. He got up and powered through to finish a very evenly paced race in 18:16. Impressive work for both of these super tough young talents.

Joon Kim was the solo Viking in the junior girl’s race. Her measured first mile paid off with negative splits as she passed a vast majority of the field in the final two miles for a 21:39 good for 25th.

By the start of the Junior boys’ race, it was super dark, and the temporary lighting on the field was minimally acceptable. Ayden Buchanan wanted to get out of trouble with a clear view of the course; he shot out to a very fast start with his first mile sub-5. He was deep in the pain cave with 800m to go but surged through the finish for a lifetime best of 15:41 and a 4th place finish. Cruz Lanzer keeps getting better each week dropping a 17:32 and knocking on the door of the Viking Varsity 7. Cole Lanzer (18:34), Jacob Kunz (18:53) and Justin Yuh (20:23) filled out the scoring positions with Tomi Lessis (20:37) and Damien Turner (20:55) much improved from last weeks’ steamy sufferfest.

The Senior girls race brought so much energy to the Vikings crew that it even kept Coach James up past her 8:45pm bedtime. Kami Grossman bounced back from a couple of down weeks nursing her Achilles to take the “W” in a smooth and controlled 17:53. This is a great start for her and we will hopefully see her progress far into the post season. Gianna Iezza was the only other senior Viking racing as the Homecoming Dance thinned the ranks of the team. She toughed it out to a 21:10 and had a super finish fighting for every position as an approaching opponent startled her into a sprint finish.

Last race of the evening had a trio of Senior Viking boys (men?) determined to show the younger Vikings what true Viking suffering is all about. Tyler Chang stayed in contact with the solid front pack, slowly picking off opponents through the latter half of the race for a smartly run and evenly paced effort good for 13th place at 15:39. Jake Brooke rolled the dice with a hard first mile(5:18) while Davis Simonian doubled down only three seconds back. Their bets on a fast start paid off with personal bests for each of them with Simonian finishing at 16:41 and Brooke a few paces back at 16:49.

The Vikings have one more flat and fast race next weekend at the Woodbridge Invitational before the courses get bumpy.

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