Fri, Sep 24 2010 02:46 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The high school cross country season has stepped off as one filled with both intrigue and lofty expectations.
Intrigue as to which school — Bonita Vista or Otay Ranch — has the best boys team in the South Bay and expectations as far as just how high both teams will place in post-season competition.
Score round one to Otay Ranch after the Mustangs out-pointed the Barons 103-154 in the 15th annual Mustang/Phair Co. Invitational Sept. 10 at Rohr Park. It’s still early in the season and both teams either had runners competing in both the varsity and junior varsity races or had a key runner not participate at all.
Still, the rivalry endures.
“I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on this event — I think what will matter most is when these teams match up three weeks from now (in league dual meet competition),” veteran Otay Ranch coach Ian Cumming said. “What this event did do was give us a better idea of what our younger runners are capable of. I was happy with how all our teams did — both the boys and girls varsity and our junior varsity teams.”
For the record, Otay Ranch placed fourth in the Blue Division boys varsity race behind Steele Canyon, Escondido and Valley Center. Bonita Vista was seventh, trailing Indio and Scripps Ranch.
Bonita Vista entered the season ranked sixth in the section while Otay Ranch was seventh. Steele Canyon, which turned in an amazing performance with a 28-second spread among its top five scorers, was unranked while Valley Center was ranked 10th. So much for rankings, it seems.
Otay Ranch junior Steven Martinez (16:33) was the top Metro Conference place-finisher in the 90-deep boys field with a runner-up finish to Scripps Ranch junior Brad Littooy (16:30) on the 5K course. Five South County runners managed to place in the top third of the field — a general measuring stick for success. Three were from Otay Ranch; two were from Bonita Vista.
Bonita Vista junior Casear Castillo was eighth in 16:53, followed by Otay Ranch senior Joshua Roach (13th, 17:06), Otay Ranch junior Carlos Rangel (17:25) and Bonita Vista junior Erik Hernandez (29th, 17:49).
There are also high expectations for Otay Ranch’s girls team, ranked perhaps a somewhat deceiving 14th place to start the season.
Led by sophomore Carina Gillespie’s first-place finish in 13:24 on the 4,048-meter course, the Mustangs managed a meteoric third-place finish behind seventh-ranked Valhalla and 11th-ranked Escondido.
Gillespie appears to be picking up right where she left off in the spring after advancing all the way to the state championship meet in Clovis in the 800-meter run. The Otay Ranch harrier out-dueled Escondido senior Cristal Favela by five seconds for first-place honors.
“It was my first race of the year and I’m very happy winning it,” said Gillespie, who finished third in the 800 meters at last May’s San Diego Section finals as a freshman. “It was neck-and-neck the whole race. I just ran my race and hung in there and at the end sprinted and gave it my all.”
In an impressive showing of conference depth, 10 Metro runners recorded finishes in the top third of the field, including four by Otay Ranch. Joining Gillespie, a state qualifier during the 2010 track season in the 800-meter run, were sophomores Catie LeDesma (sixth, 13:48) and Andie LeDesma (13th, 14:24) and senior Karla Gadea (26th, 14:53).
Bonita Vista sophomore Kristen Lamprecht placed 15th in 14:35, followed by San Ysidro senior Karla Hernandez (18th, 14:43), Bonita Vista sophomore Jennifer Yang (14:46), Sweetwater senior Prisma Mendoza (22nd, 14:46), Bonita Vista sophomore Elena Jurado (24th, 14:51) and Olympian senior Kioana Smith (28th, 15:00).
Bonita Vista was fourth among teams — 59 points behind Otay Ranch — while Sweetwater was eighth.
Cumming had praise for his young team.
“All our girls ran well, especially our top three — Carina, Catie and Andie,” he said.
Other standout performances were turned in by Mar Vista junior Karly Tena (second in the Silver Division girls varsity race) and Castle Park sophomore Miguel Lopez (fifth in the Silver Division boys varsity race).
Both Mar Vista (girls) and Castle Park (boys) placed fourth in their respective divisions.
Otay Ranch notched the top two finishers in the Blue Division boys junior varsity race (4,048 meters): senior Gus Tunks (first in 12:19) and junior Zachary Velasquez (second in 12:31). The Mustangs won the division title with four runners in the top nine.
The Blue Division girls JV race featured 230 finishers.
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