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.
On Mt.SAC’s biggest day, the ESGV was well represented in the biggest races – with Claremont and Glendora in the top event – the Team Sweepstakes. The Wolfpack took another step forward, the Tartans stumbled, and in the heats, Rowlands Soph/Junior duo showed their class.
The Sweeps race was the fastest ever, with Arcadia setting a new course record and two other teams breaking into the top 10. But Claremont more than held their own with a school record 77:38, first among Div. II in the race, third on the day, and the 4th fastest time ever by a D2 team at the Invite. The Wolfpark were led by strong finishes from seniors Paul Ross (4th/15:03) and Henry Falotico (6th/15:07) on a day when the whole team stepped up.
Glendora went the other direction, running only 81:02, with team leader Anthony Castro and two other expect scorers having off days. The Tartans were led by a 15:35 PR from senior Kelly Hernandez.
In the heats, Rowland continued to show their strength with an excellent 81:01 team effort. Running in the top Div II heat, junior Nick Rivera confirmed his move up from the long sprints with a 15:24 PR, while fast rising soph David Galvez checked in with a 15:37.
In a merge of the twelve local Div. I & II teams that competed Saturday (including Glendora’s and Claremont’s B Varsity teams – competing in the JV National Champs race), Claremont was the easy winner with 25 points, followed by Glendora (75) and Rowland (83).
On Saturday, the Division I & II schools took the famous 2.93 mile course at Mt.SAC, and at the end of the day the top performances came from Glendora senior Lauren Justus and her Tartan teammates.
Glendora was is in the Individual Sweeps race and Lauren, the SGV’s 2009 leader, took another big step forward to finish sixth in a area leading, PR 17:53. Her teammates were right behind, most notably frosh Tori Whitworth with a 19:32 effort in her first visit to MtSAC, finishing with a school record 97:22.
Claremont had an equally strong day, winning their Div. II heat with at 97:31 time for their five scorers. This fast rising team was by soph Baily Sanin (6th/18:50), and frosh Megan Renken (7th/18:52), & Merin Arft (19:17). Charter Oak junior Carly Lake was second (19:15) in her heat.
In a merge of the eight local teams running Saturday, Glendora (44) and Claremont (44) tie on points with the Tartans getting the nod with the better sixth runner, frosh Taylor Butler (20th/20:23) over junior Danielle Hepperle (21st/20:25). Rowland, led by frosh Courtney Conchola (19:24) was third with 107 points.
Northview senior Alan Callison was the ESGV’s leader in Friday’s Div. III, IV, & V action at the Mt.SAC Invitational. Callison dropped an almost 2 minute Mt.SAC PR to finish 2nd in his heat with a 15:53 effort. The other top effort in the heats came from Los Altos (83:51) who finished second in their race, led by senior Andy Lopez (11th/16:29).
Damien and South Hills represented the ESGV in the big Div. III Sweepstakes race. The Spartans, despite the illness of a usual scorer, turned in the best effort with an 11th place, 82:25 finish, led by senior John Garcia (15:56) – his first trip under 16:00, and junior Tom Ebiner (15:58). South Hills struggled a bit, with frequent team leader Johnny Flores finishing poorly with what turned out to be a season ending knee injury. The Huskies were 15th in 83:37, with senior Christian Sanchez (30th/16:01) as their top man.
Webb were 14th/89:13 in the Div. V Sweeps, led by Baily Stockdale (16:21).
Bonita soph Marissa Scott continued her climb up the SoCal XC ladder with a win in the strongest DIII girls heat at Mt.SAC, running a strong 18:08. She was followed by equally strong efforts from soph Lexie Jackson (18:53) and frosh Mikayla Flores (19.10), who was still struggling with a lingering injury, and the team was third in a Bearcat record 97.06 – tops of all the SGV teams on the weekend.
In the other heats, Los Altos (102:46), led by Nicolette Garcia (19.59) were second in their DIII heat, while Bishop Amat senior Illiana Velazquez ran a big 19:24 PR to finish 6th in her heat.
Three local teams competed in the prestigious DIII Team Sweepstakes, with South Hills coming out the best with a 9th place, 98:24 finish. The Huskies were led by a number of strong runs, most notably 19:09 (and 1:36pr) effort from junior Alex Borunda and senior Vianca Holguin’s 19:13. St. Lucy’s (103:28) and Rosemead (103:46) were not at their best, finishing 15th and 16th in the field. The Regents were led by senior Taylor Hebb (19:34) while Kelly Luc (19.56) was the top Panther.
In a merge, in which only the times of the 15 ESGV are combined as if they were running in the same race, Bonita (43) just edged out South Hills (45) with Los Altos (104) third.
The weekend at the Mt.SAC Invitational is reserved for the bigger Div. I & II schools, along with the biggest races of the weekend. The East SGV only has ten schools competing, but our area will be well represented in the biggest races.
The Claremont and Glendora boys ranked #3 & #6 in the CIF-SS Div. II and #3 & #5 in the State, will run in the biggest race of the day – the Team Sweepstakes at 10:45. The Glendora girls, led by State ranked #10 Lauren Justus will race in the Individual Sweepstakes at 9:30. Unlike on Friday, the locals mostly manage to miss each other, with only one SGV team in most of the races.
Assuming the rain will not change the schedule, most of the ESGV schools will compete on Friday, when Divs III, IV & V take to the three big hills at Mt.SAC in Walnut. This is the biggest XC meet in the country (and presumably in the world), and the famous 2.93 mile course is the standard for our sport in Southern California.
Our area will be well represented in the big races as well. Rosemead, South Hills and St. Lucy’s will run in the Div III Sweepstakes race at 4:29, and Damien and South Hills will follow in the Boys Sweeps at 4:44. Webb will be in the Boys Div V Sweeps at 5:45.
This is an odd year for team placements, and so with most of the top ranked Div. III teams choosing to stay in the regular Varsity race, CIF-SS 8th ranked Bonita chose to do the same, and that race goes off at 2:04.
Here’s the lineups for all of the local Varsity teams
1:30 D3 Yellow Boys: Azusa, San Dimas, Sierra Vista, Wilson, Workman
1:37 D3 Blue Boys: Bassett, Bishop Amat, Ganesha, Los Altos, Northview
1:43 D3 Green Boys: Bonita, Gabrielino, La Puente, Rosemead
1:50 D3 Red Girls: Bassett, Bishop Amat, Los Altos, San Dimas, Sierra Vista, Workman
The finals SGV team began, and ended their cluster meet schedule on Wednesday when Glendora competed in the Baseline League meet on a somewhat tough 3 mile course at Red Hill Park in Rancho Cucamonga. (Their first cluster meet was canceled after being postponed first for heat and then for rain.)
The Tartans were second twice to Div. I power Rancho Cucamonga – with the guys getting Top 10 finishes from seniors Anthony Castro (4th/15:30) and Kelly Hernandez (7th/15:40), while counting two frosh among their top five.
The girls, who had struggled in team competition for the past several years, were a solid second to a Rancho team that set a course record. But the real news was senior Lauren Justus‘ third course record of the season. Running alone after the first 200m and winning by nearly a minute, Lauren posted a 17:51, breaking the old record by 19 seconds.
Glendora will next be in action on Saturday at Mt.SAC where the guys will be in the Team Sweepstakes race and the girls in the Individual Sweeps.
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.
The entries for the massive Mt. SAC Invite were released today, and as always, the schools of the East San Gabriel Valley will be well represented, with 30 of the 37 area schools and 1132 local athletes taking part in this massive, two day event featuring hundreds of schools from many states and nearly 20,000 athletes.
Most local schools will be there on Friday, when Divisions III, IV, & V compete. The ESGV will be well represented in the prestigious Sweepstakes races, with Bonita, Rosemead, South Hills & St. Lucy’s lining up in the girls D3 Sweeps, while a resurgent Damien and South Hills will run in the Boys Sweeps. Update: the Bonita girls will be running in the regular Div. III varsity race, in which most of the ranked teams have chosen to run.
Saturday is given over the larger Div. I & II schools, which only includes eight from the ESGV. But those eight include Glendora, which is one of only 12 teams to have both their boys and girls teams make the big Saturday Sweeps, and Claremont, who will compete alongside the Tartan boys.