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Bonita Vista cross country team looks to team focus for success Phillip Brents | Fri, Sep 09 2011 12:59 PM

The Bonita Vista cross country team sped to a decidedly upbeat finish in 2010. The Barons boys squad turned in a second-place finish in the Mesa League standings before nailing down a third-place showing in the San Diego Section championship finals and, in the process, earning a state team qualifying berth.

Meanwhile, the BVHS girls team finished third in the Mesa League standings and fifth overall in the Division II finals.

 Coach Ed Winczowski said success should continue under a team-oriented philosophy.

“Our team goals and expectations are to worry about the workout that is in front of us on that given day and stay healthy,” he said. “As others would say, ‘The rest will take care of itself.’”

The boys team is led by a pair of returning first team all-league runners — seniors Caesar Castillo and Jose Suarez — and second team all-league finisher Jacob Sherman, a junior.

Castillo, a CIF finalist in the 3,200 meters during the spring track and field season, placed seventh at last fall’s league finals while Suarez was eighth. Sherman also posted a top-third finish by placing 14th in the 42-deep field.

Castillo captured a runner-up finish in the 3,200 at last May’s league championship track meet, timing 9:39. Sherman (9:57) and Suarez (10:02) finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the same race.

The Barons graduate their top two finishers at last year’s league finals — 2010 individual champion Shin Agbede and Jason Hardin (third).

Others being counted on for leadership in 2011 include seniors Kevin Yen and Alex Dominquez and junior Christian Kelly. Yen is a second-year runner who has clocked 4:48 in the 1,600 run while Kelly won last spring’s JV title in the 3,200 run.

Junior Kristen Lamprecht was the Barons top female runner for part of last season before coming down with pneumonia. She took the spring sports season off to focus on other activities, according to Winczowski.

The team will look to four other juniors for scoring depth — Maria Johnson, Elena Jurado, Jennifer Yang and Clarissa Hernandez. Johnson (2:23 in the 800 run), Jurado (5:45 in the 1,600 run and 12:25 in the 3,200 run), Yang (5:45 in the 1,600 run) and Hernandez (5:40 in the 1,600 run) all posted good times during the spring track season.

Also on board this season is sophomore Denise Bautista.

Jurado finished 16th in the 41-deep field at last year’s Mesa cross country finals, while Bautista was 19th and Hernandez was 21st.

Impact newcomers on the boys team include sophomores Devin Helle, Christian Gutierrez and Austin Johnson. Helle competed at the JV level last year while Gutierrez is a first-year runner and Johnson is a transfer student.

Runners who should impact the BVHS girls team in a positive way include juniors Raelene Dearmas and Ana Smokal and sophomore Claudia Hernandez.

Dearmas, a former volleyball player, is a two-time CIF qualifier in the 800 run (2:20.49 personal best). She was second at last spring’s 800 Mesa finals.

Hernandez competed at the JV level last cross country season but moved up to the varsity level during the spring track season. She placed third in the 1,600 run (5:26) at the Mesa League finals in the spring and also has run a 2:28 time in the 800 meters.

Smokal is another first-year runner.

The boys side of the Mesa League looks to be interesting this season. The top two finishers at last year’s league finals — Bonita Vista’s Agbede and Eastlake’s Trent Warren — both graduated, leaving Otay Ranch’s Steven Martinez as the Mesa’s top returning runner. Bonita Vista’s Castillo and Suarez rank next among returners, followed by Otay Ranch’s Zach Velasquez.

With only four of last year’s top 10 finishers returning, the door appears wide open for challengers to enter.

Otay Ranch edged Bonita Vista, 33-34, at last November’s league championship meet.
Eastlake, which finished third at last year’s league finals, returns Zac Zasueta (13th at the 2010 league finals) and will be bolstered this year by sophomore Oliver Nunez and wrestling and lacrosse standout Casey Stanko.

Meanwhile, Otay Ranch’s defending champion girls team returns virtually intact, led by Carina Gillespie and Catie and Andie LeDesma.

Eastlake, last year’s league finals runner-up,  is led by all-league returner Ridley Gatlin (10th at last year’s league finals), fellow sophomore Alina Corona (17th) and  juniors  Jenna and Sarah Garces (12th and   13th, respectively). 

The Titans will step off the 2011 season at Saturday’s Vaquero Stampede at Lindo Lake. For information, visit www.sdtrackmag.com.

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