LONG BEACH, CA — The Valencia Vikings Cross country team opened the official racing season at Cal State Long Beach in the Southern California XC Opener Invitational on Saturday.
The course was 3 miles of flat, looping terrain through and around the college athletic complex. Though lacking hills, the thick grass, plentiful sharp turns and humid and warm conditions presented challenges for the field.
The Viking Frosh/Soph Girls opened the racing with a strong 6th place finish by Valentina Soto Navarrete (22:19), while Maria Lopez (24:07), Hannah Aina (25:38), Gracie Brooke (26:06) and Sophie Tran (27:07) rounded out the scoring five. The Frosh/Soph Boys team was challenged by the largest field of the day as the mercury started to rise. Lead by soph Leo Hicks (30th, 18:52) much of the team got their first taste of high school cross country racing. Alex Basin (19:25), Luis Torres Orrala (20:18), Adam Sandoval (21:31), and Jake Robideau (22:02) filled out the scoring group with support by the rest of the crew: J’Wun McNutt (22:54), Nate Patel (22:59), Nehemiah Pop (25:34), Connor Landress (25:45), Emad Ahmed (28:13), and Dylan Marshall (37:51). This was a great start for this group that is full of potential! We foresee lots of growth individually and as a team as we move through the season.
The JV Girls race was the smallest field of the day, but not lacking competition. Lauren Tran took the individual win with a PR of 20:28 after stalking and passing the early leaders about half way through the race. A fantastic start of the racing season for her! Gianna Iezza and Joon Kim followed closely grouped with a 22:28 and 22:48, respectively. Melody Weber, a late add to the JV race, finished her first XC race in 37:59. These girls really came to race and left it all out on the muggy course. Great efforts ladies!
Temperatures were really starting to heat up by the start of the JV boys race and there was not a dry arm pit in the stadium! Marcus Espinosa added to the heat by taking it out hot in the first mile. A strong second half of the race had Cruz Lanzer leading the team with a 6th place at 18:33. Cole Lanzer (19:03) and Marcus (19:19) finished close behind with Jacob Kunz (20:25) and Tomi Lessis (21:25) filling out the score card. Damien Turner toughed it out for a late finish at 28:08.
The final race of the day brought a slight breeze, but not enough to cool the action on the course. The varsity boys saw a fast start with the field going out in 4:36 for the first mile. Not far behind was Ayden Buchanan (15:53) who hung on for a PR and sixth in the field to lead the Vikings. Tyler Chang (16:02) valiantly battled the heat right behind in 9th, with Freshman Mills Oviedo finishing 20th at 17:07 after a measured start and a strong second half. Grant Young (17:12) had a tough day, visibly hurting shortly after the start with Noah Flores (17:33), Davis Simonian (17:42) and Jake Brooke (17:56) rounding out the Vikings. The team finished 4th in a field of eight.
The Vikings head to the Rosemead Invitational next Saturday night looking to build upon their fantastic opener.