Category Archives: Features

Osvaldo Cervantes – SGV Athlete of the Week (Week 3)

Osvaldo Cervantes picked a pretty big stage to open his 2018 season – the Sweepstakes race at the massive Woodbridge Invitational. But he kept his head (and his feet!) to finish 40th in a lifetime best 14:45 – #3 in the SGV so far, and that makes him our Athlete of the Week for Week 3.

Osvaldo is no stranger to big stages – his last XC meet was the State Championships, and he was 5th at last season’s CIF Div. 3 Finals. Coming off an injury marred junior track season, Osvaldo is ready for big things this year. Click the link and let him tell you his story…

Noah Hibbard – SGV Athlete of the Week (Wk 2)

Arroyo senior Noah Hibbard is our first SGV Athlete of the Week for 2018, on the strength of his dominating win at the Rosemead Invitational. His 14:28 at Rosemead was the fastest ever for a SGV athlete on that course.

Noah is the defending Mission Valley League champ, and finished 14th at last year’s CIF-SS Div. 2 Finals. His win on Saturday was nearly a minute faster than his time there last year, so both he and his team have set their sights much higher for 2018.

So here our first interview (Noah is great, but the quality is a little choppy – we’ll get better)

Meet Aaron Mora

Not every top runner is an overnight sensation.  And Whittier senior Aaron Mora certainly isn’t.  This is the fourth year of a solid HS career.  He came into his final season with a solid 15:31 MtSAC PR and ran 9:34.89 to finish 3rd in the 3200 at last year’s SGV Track Championships.

After a strong summer, he’s gaining benefit of a solid body of work.  Aaron opened with an excellent 15:16 for 5000 meters in San Diego and he followed that up with a blazing 14:40, 2nd place effort to lead his team to the overall title at the Rosemead Invitational.  And now, Aaron is this week’s featured athlete.

How and when did you start running?  – “I have been running since middle school because my dad use to be a runner so I wanted to try it out.”

What is your favorite workout during XC season, and why?  – “I like doing long runs in Turnbull Canyon because I get to go as hard as I want.”

How much did you train over the summer?  – “I did a lot of mileage this summer with double days and running on my own on Sundays.”

What do your think about or concentrate on during XC races?  – “I focus on running for my teammates and most importantly running for Jesus Christ.”

Describe your last race. – “My last race (The Rosemead Invitational) went out really hard and faster than I expected but I tried to hold on and just keep running hard. I can’t wait to run against Danny Martinez (St. John Bosco) again during the season.”

Five Fun Questions
  • Best place for tacos?“My mom’s”
  • Favorite subject in School?“English”
  • The song that’s in your head right now?“Best Day Ever” by Mac Miller
  • Short or long shorts for training?“Short Shorts”
  • What trainers do you wear?“The Guides by Saucony”

Aaron’s next race is the Del Rio League #1 Cluster Meet at Legg Lake in South El Monte on Friday.

Meet Bobby Villagomez

No sports rewards hard work like cross country.  Talent matters, but talent without a lot of running, a lot of hard running, goes nowhere.  Slowly.

Bobby Villagomez, a senior at Los Altos, decided in June to find out how good he could be.  He entered the season with modest track PR’s of 4:42.74 and 10:42.25 and a Mt.SAC best of 17:08.  But after a solid summer of training with coach Anthony Ossa, Bobby opened big with a 15:11 for 3 miles at the Don Bosco meet, and followed that up last Saturday with a 15:00 effort at the Rosemead Invite, an 86 second improvement from last year!  Now he’s this week’s featured runner.

How and when did you start running?  “I started running because my sister was having a fundraiser and one of her friend’s brothers was a cross country runner. My mom wanted me to do something because my freshman year I did nothing so she took me to practice and I have been running since then.”

Bobby Villagomez

What is your favorite workout during XC season?“My favorite workouts are trail runs because it is just so much fun to explore the wilderness and actually be in nature.”

How much did you train over the summer? – “I trained a lot, I do not think I have ever trained so hard, I always wanted to be #1 on my team since I first started and I knew it would take time and dedication and I have always tried my best and it has gotten me really far.”

What do your think about or concentrate on during XC races?“During the races I always focus on either the person in front of me and once I focus everything else just goes away and I eventually pass him up, and if I am leading I focus on my breathing and on the sound of the person behind me and I make sure I cannot hear it.”

Describe your last race. “My last race was just phenomenal. It was a cold dark night and there were about 200 runners, I took the lead of the 1st mile and slowed down a bit around the second and I took it on home and got 3rd place with a time of 14:59.61. It is the 1st time I have ever broken 15 minutes and I think I might have the record for Los Altos High School.”

Five Fun Questions
  • Best place for tacos?“Hands down King Taco, they are just amazing.”
  • Favorite subject in school?“History.  I love to learn about the past and what achievements we as the human race have done.”
  • The song that’s in your head right now? “Sorry 4 the Wait” by Lil Wayne.
  • Short shorts or long in training? – “Short”
  • What trainers do you wear? “Asics Gel Nimbus 12”

Bobby’s next race is today’s Hacienda League Cluster Meet at Bonelli Park

Mt.SAC Wrap Up – Girls

Cross Country has improved relentlessly over the past ten years, and the huge field and great weather helped that process leaped forward at this year’s Mt.SAC Invitational.


The athletes of the San Gabriel Valley kept pace with this trend, with several high placings, and numerous school records.  The top performance came from Lauren Justus (Sr – Glendora), whose 17:53 was the fastest SGV time since Jessica Nunez (South Hills) in 2007, and the fastest at the Invite since fellow Tartan Christy Adamyk her PR of 17:27 in 2005.  Four other girls ran under 19:00 this year, most notably Marissa Scott (So – Bonita), whose 18:08 was the winning time in her Div. III heat.  As a measure of the growing quality of our sport, 14th best in the SGV this year was 19:24, while last year 20:17 was 14th.

In a merge of all of the SGV teams, Claremont (75) reversed their order with Glendora (82) from the Div. I, II merge, with Bonita and South Hills both coming in with 94 points.

Top 14 Performers and Top Ten Teams after the jump.

Continue reading Mt.SAC Wrap Up — Girls

Meet Tom Ebiner

Can running be in your blood?  If so, Damien junior Tom Ebiner would be a prime example.  His father, Mike Ebiner, was a strong track and XC runner on a CIF championship team at Bishop Amat in early 70’s.  And if the name sounds familiar, it should, as Tom’s dad was one of six Ebiner brothers and four sisters who were all excellent runners in the 70’s & 80’s, and his cousin William is a teammate at Damien.  But you don’t run with your blood, and Tom first broke through with his own feet last track season when he qualified for CIF in the 3200 out of the tough Sierra League.  Let’s meet Tom:

How and when did you start running? – I’ve run for fun ever since I was little. Even though I ran track in elementary school, I didn’t really run competitively until I joined the cross country team my freshman year at Damien.  Even then I wasn’t that serious and only ran 18:51 at Mt Sac my first year.  My training and times really improved my sophomore track season, and I was able to make it to CIF for the first time racing in the 2 mile”.

What is your favorite workout during XC season, and why? – “I like runs where I can go an easy 10 and get a good hill workout at the same time. So for me running any where in the foothills, such as Horsethief Canyon, San Dimas Canyon, or Marshall Canyon, is great.”

How much did you train over the summer? – “Over the summer I focused mainly on putting in a bunch of miles while also trying to cover a lot of hills. I was able to go up to both Mammoth  and Big Bear for summer training so that was a great way for me to do both.”

What do you think about or concentrate on during XC races? – “I try not to think as much on setting a P.R or hitting a certain mark, but just going out and being competitive with top runners in the race, knowing that will pull me along to good times.”

Five Fun Questions

  • Best Pizza?“Warehouse”
  • Favorite Subject in School? “History”
  • Song that’s stuck in your head?“Don’t have one”
  • Short or long shorts for training“Short”
  • Brand of Running Shoes? “Asics”

Tom competes next on Friday, in the Div. 3 Sweepstakes race of the Mt. SAC Invite.

Meet Vianca Holguin

The South Hills Cross Country team has a strong history and an excellent present.  The girls team has had a series of strong performances this year, especially important with their move into the tough Sierra League.  One of their top runners has been senior Vianca Holguin, whose best performance so far was her 19:21/9th place finish at Sierra #1, and she’s this week’s featured runner.

How and when did you start running? – “I began running my freshmen year encouraged by members in the team.”

What is your favorite workout during XC season, and why? “My favorite workout is hill repeats beacuse they make me strong and give me endurance for the races with hills.

How much did you train over the summer? “I trained eight times a week with my team.”

What do you think about or concentrate on during XC races? -“I think about my goal time I want to get or the people I want to beat.”

Five Fun Questions

  • Best Pizza?“Michael Angelos”
  • Favorite Subject in School? “Math”
  • Song that’s stuck in your head?What She Came For Remix” by Franz Ferdinand
  • What do you do with you hair when you run?“French Braid”
  • Brand of Running Shoes? “Saucony”

Vianca competed in yesterday’s Sierra League Cluster Meet.  Look for the results later today.

Meet Miriam Jimenez

Miriam at Sunny Hills

Our sport takes time.  It takes commitment.  It takes passion.  And when you add all three up, you can have success.  That’s how it’s worked for Baldwin Park senior Miriam Jimenez.  Miriam has been a steady part of the track and XC program for the Braves, but Coach Cobe Guzman says that this year, she made a special commitment to her training, and it’s shown.  She was a clear winner at last week’s Valle Vista League cluster meet, easily defeating the defending league champion, and her strong effort at the Sunny Hills meet makes her the 8th ranked performer in the SGV this season.  Let’s meet Miriam…

How and when did you start running?“I started running during my sophomore year with the track & field team. I was trying out for softball when I saw the girls go for their daily street run. It caught my attention and I showed up to practice the following week.”

What is your favorite workout during XC season, and why? – “My favorite workout would have to be our Saturday mornings, going for a long run out in parks with the rest of the girls.”

How much did you train over the summer? – “I trained my whole entire summer vacation, 6 times a week. I even missed my own traditional trip to Mexico to visit family for I could be in my best shape.”

What do you think about or concentrate on during XC races? – “I think about just putting all my best on each race, as if it were my last one.  I concentrate mostly on setting new p.r’s – but also on having a blast!”
Five Fun Questions:
  • Best place for pizza? – “Chuck E Cheese”
  • Favorite subject in school? – “Science”
  • Song that’s stuck in your head? – “Just the Way You Are” – Bruno Mars
  • What do you do with you hair when you run? – “Normally, braided with my bangs twisted to the side.”
  • Brand of running shoes? – “PINK Saucony”

Miriam competes next this Saturday at Mt.SAC in the San Gabriel Valley 1 v. 1 Challenge, where she’ll meet some of SoCal’s top runners.

Getting to Know Nick Rivera

Nick at Bosco Tech

Success in Cross Country usually comes only after years of specific training, but sometimes talent gets it done.  Rowland junior Nick Rivera is in just his first season of XC, but he has already won at Bosco Tech and turned in a ESGV best performance at Sunny Hills.  No stranger to running fast, he was a CIF D2 finalist at 400m last year, with track PR’s of 22.6 in the 200 and 49.8 in the 400, and he’s the subject of our first athlete interview.

How and when did you start running? – “I started running track freshman year. I started cross country this year (11th grade).  My teammates and coaches persuaded me to join cross country.”

What are your favorite Cross Country Workouts? – “My favorite XC workouts are 400s and Pepperdale which is a super steep hill we run up.  I love these because I want to run a faster 400 in track.”

How much did you run over the summer? “Unfortunately, I was on vacation and only had about four weeks of training before the season.”

What do you think about during an XC race?“I think about my splits, catching up to the guy if he is in front of me, and when I am in the lead I think about finishing strong and getting a good time.”

And Five Fun Questions:

  • Best tacos?“King Taco or Taco del Rio.”
  • Favorite subject in school?“History”
  • Song that’s stuck in your head?“All The Way Turnt Up by Roscoe Dash”
  • Brand of running shoes?“Saucony”
  • Short or long shorts at practice?“Short”

Nick competes next in today’s Hacienda League Cluster Meet at Bonelli Park in San Dimas.

Where’d They Go – 2009’s Top Ten

There were only seven seniors on last year’s final ESGV Top Ten Lists, but (at least) six have gone on to compete in college – four at NCAA Div 1 schools, one at Cal Poly Pomona (Div. 2) and one at Azusa Pacific, which competes in the NAIA.

Jayson Perez

2008 Area Athlete of the Year Jayson Perez (South El Monte) has joined South Hills’ Ashley Holguin at D1 Cal State Fullerton.  State Finalist Brittnie Munoz (Rosemead) moved on to Loyola Marymount in Westchester, CA, and Glendora’s Austin Goodheart is at UC Santa Barbara.  Jessica Mendez (West Covina) has made the trip down the 10 to Cal Poly Pomona, while Paul Balderas (Diamond Ranch) is now an APU Cougar.

All of the athletes except Balderas (who started the week before) competed in last weekend’s UC Riverside Invitational (Men’s results, Women’s results) with the best performance coming from Perez, who was Fullerton’s number 2 on the day.  Jayson went under 25:00 in his first 8k, running 24:59 for 27th place, and finishing just behind LMU’s Thomas Finnigan (Glendora ’08), the 2007 Area Athlete of the Year.

Our local athletes will have a chance to step up this weekend as several travel to Stanford and Oklahoma State – the two top early-season college XC meets.  We’ll keep you posted on their progress.