Wed, Sep 05 2012 05:35 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Veteran Otay Ranch cross country coach Ian Cumming admitted that while it is obviously very early in the season and much work remains to be done, he is nonetheless “very excited” about the potential of this year’s Mustang boys and girls squads.
Last year’s girls team was unquestionably the best in school history. The Mustangs lose three key performers off that squad — all “very high quality people” in Cumming’s words.
Blanca DeLaRocha graduated and has moved on to Humboldt State where she has the opportunity to join that school’s cross country and track teams.
Brenda Hernandez has moved to Mexico and is competing very well in regional races there, according to Cumming.
Julianna Corrao, meanwhile, is battling bone cancer.
The ORHS coach said the same skills that Corrao used to help her progress from being a borderline varsity runner to a Second Team All-Division I runner by placing 14th at last year’s section finals as a junior is helping her deal with the cancer.
“Just like she was a very strong competitor and optimist as a runner, she is battling cancer just as aggressively as she approached her training,” Cumming said. “She will continue to be part of our team and be there to cheer whenever possible.”
Despite this the Mustangs return a strong core group.
Senior Carina Gillespie finished seventh at last year’s state championship meet as an individual qualifier while classmate Catie LeDesma is a three-time league champion in the 3,200-meter run in track.
Andie LeDesma, another senior, is coming off her best track season and summer of training, while Bailie LeDesma, the final link among the LeDesma sister triplets, has “improved greatly over the past year,” according to Cumming.
“After that we have several surprises on the ladies side who will turn some heads,” Cumming said. “Some are relatively new and others are girls who decided to train consistently and with good quality and quantity. We are excited to see what we can accomplish this year. It will definitely be lots of fun!”
The Otay Ranch boys team dropped a tie-breaker decision to Bonita Vista at last year’s league finals, handing the 2011 league title to the Barons.
Though the Mustangs do not have quite as many proven quality performers returning as does the girls team, Cumming still feels very optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We have many boys who took the challenge and ran 45 to 60 miles per week with some strong runs mixed in from time to time,” Cumming said.
The Otay coach noted that Rodrigo Baza and Steven Liu seem to be at the front in the early going after accomplishing the most last year of the returning group. Both ran sub-10 minutes in the 3,200 during the spring track season.
Cumming said Gilberto Beltran was a strong leader this summer and will not only challenge for one of the top spots, but will be largely responsible for the success the team experiences because of his ability to get others to run consistently.
“As the first few weeks unfold, there will be several newer names to mention,” Cumming said. “We have many hard-working and excited young men who will help us challenge for the league championship and, if things go well, for one of the top spots in CIF.”
© 2009 The Star-News