Lancer harriers continue to excel, win division title at Mt. SAC Invitational

Hilltop team members display their first place plaque after winning the Division III Red race at the prestigious Mt. SAC Invitational on Oct. 25. Courtesy photo

It was territory revisited for the Hilltop High School cross country team after its boys squad captured the Division III Red championship at the prestigious Mt. SAC Invitational on Oct. 25.

Winning at the largest cross country meet on the planet was nothing new for the Lancers but it’s been a while since it was last accomplished.

“It was the peak of our season,” Hilltop coach Chris Gentry said.

Hilltop finished the 2.93-mile race with a score of 122 points to better the 146 points for runner-up Reseda Cleveland.

Senior Antonio Quintana and sophomore Miguel Tisnado led the Lancers on the course in the 177-deep race with times of 16:36. Quintana finished 12th while Tisnado was 13th.

Sophomore Jimmy Byland finished 17th in 16:50, followed by sophomore Noah Rosenberg in 36th place in 17:40. Sophomore Eddie Castaneda rounded out the team’s top five scorers in 51st place in 18:00.

Hilltop’s top three performers finished within a spread of 14 seconds. All five scorers finished in the top third of the field.

Sophomore Leon McClain (124th, 19:45) and freshman Kyle DePratti (125th, 19:46) rounded out the Lancers’ contingent of seven runners in the race.

“It’s a hard race,” Quintana underscored. “We didn’t expect to win, we were hoping to be in the top 15 teams. At the end we looked up at the scoreboard and saw we took first. Everybody was really happy.”

The Hilltop High School boys cross country team continued to excel on the course by defeating Bonita Vista in a Mesa League dual meet on Nov. 1 to improve to 3-1 in league competition. Photo by Phillip Brents

Mar Vista, Castle Park and West Hills also competed in the division race. West Hills senior Dylan Shubert finished second among individuals in 15:54.

West Hills finished fourth as a team while Mar Vista was eighth.

Castle Park junior Anthony Halbert finished 27th in 17:22 while freshman teammate Dylan Miramontes finished 32nd in 17:32.

Mar Vista senior Sebastian Pimentel was 38th in 17:42 while classmate Jonathan Garcia was 44th in 17:50.

Saratoga sophomore Harrison Dance won the race in 15:50.

Hilltop girls cross country team, from left, Nicole Byland, Ana Zamitz, Ariana Lieras, Valeria Cegallos, Paola Suarez, Ashley Herrera, Anna Sanchez. Photo by Phillip Brents

The Hilltop girls team also excelled on the Mt. SAC course, placing third in the Division III Yellow race with 132 points to trail team champion Chino (83 points) and runner-up Monroe (109 points).

Hilltop edged fourth place West Hills by 22 points.

Castle Park senior Estella Bustillos scored an elite finish in the 2.93-mile race in 20:26 to place fifth among the 122 runners.

Sophomore Nicole Byland led Hilltop with a time of 21:42 to place 15th among individuals.

Freshman Ariana Lieras was 17th in 22:01, followed by classmate Tamara Cornejo in 22:28. Sophomore Ana Zamitz finished fourth on the team in 23:35 in 48th place while sophomore Paulo Suarez rounded out the team’s top five scorers in 24:24 in 67th place.

Chino sophomore Mia Chavez won the race with a breakaway time of 19:04.

The backstory to the race made it especially meaningful for the Hilltop squad.

“For these girls to go third it was the greatest thing,” Gentry said. “Last year they didn’t finish. They got led off the course. To go from not finishing to placing third among 26 teams is amazing, it’s incredible.

“We have a very young team. We’ve been training with the boys team, everybody’s been running together, and I think that’s helped.”

“We have teamwork, we push each other,” Zamitz said. “We’re constantly talking to each other. It feels like one team, not a boys team and a girls team. We’re running as one school.”

The Lancers hope to feed off that school pride at Friday’s Mesa League finals at Rohr Park.

Hilltop defeated Bonita Vista 19-36 in boys competition Nov. 1 at Rohr Park to push its dual meet record to 3-1. Byland, Quintana and Tisnado finished as the top three individuals.

Friday’s league finals should be extremely competitive as the three Lancers finished in that same order behind Olympian freshman standout Carter Stuhlmacher in the team’s Nov. 8 dual meet against the Eagles.

Stuhlmacher (15:57) finished 14 seconds ahead of Byland (16:11) to win the 5K race as Olympian nosed out Hilltop 27-30 on the scoreboard.

Sweetwater High School’s boys and girls cross country teams will be out to defend their South Bay League championships at Friday’s league finals at Rohr Park. Photo by Phillip Brents

Defending champions
Sweetwater will be out to defend last year’s South Bay League championships in both the boys and girls fields.

SuHi coach Jaime Romero reports the team is “running well.”

“We have a good group of kids,” Romero said. “The boys put in a lot of road work over the summer and want to repeat as league champions, but we’ve got to compete. We’ve got a good group of senior girls, one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to coach.

“But Chula Vista is running well and we have to be on the top of our game to defeat them and defend our title.”

Sweetwater’s Jose Galvan led the field in the team’s South Bay League dual meet against San Ysidro at Rohr Park. Photo by Phillip Brents

Sweetwater swept its Nov. 1 dual meet against San Ysidro at Rohr Park, winning the boys meet by a score of 23-36 and the girls meet by a score of 15-50 to improve to 4-0 heading into its final league match-ups against Mar Vista and Castle Park.

Sweetwater’s Jose Galvan finished the boys race in 15:49 to finish ahead of San Ysidro’s Joshua Talamantes (16:18). The teams traded positions as Beto Barajas finished third for the victorious Red Devils in 16:21, followed by San Ysidro’s Missael Felix in 16:26.

Sweetwater’s Angel Rodriguez (16:55) and Hector Alva (17:23) followed in fifth and sixth places, respectively. The Devils scored seven of the top 10 finishers overall in the race, which was shortened to three miles due to construction in the park.

Audrey Vargas led the Lady Devils on the course with a time of 16:58. She was followed by five teammates: Gabriela Rodriguez (17:25), Brizeth Barajas (17:45), Beatriz Espeleta (18:05), Litzy Avila (18:56) and Victoria Prado (19:08).

League finals
Otay Ranch leads Mesa League boys teams into Friday’s finals with a 5-0 dual meet record while Eastlake’s girls team is also 5-0.

The meet starts at 2 p.m.

Time schedule:
Girls varsity – 2 p.m.
Boys varsity – 2:30 p.m.
Girls junior varsity – 3 p.m.
Boys junior varsity – 3:30 p.m.

League standings (unofficial):
Boys Varsity/Mesa League
Otay Ranch – 5-0
Olympian – 4-1
Hilltop – 3-2
Eastlake – 2-3
Bonita Vista – 1-4
Mater Dei Catholic – 0-5

Girls Varsity/Mesa League
Eastlake – 5-0
Otay Ranch – 4-1
Olympian – 3-2
Bonita Vista – 2-3
Hilltop – 1-4
Mater Dei Catholic – 0-5

Boys JV/Mesa League
Otay Ranch – 5-0
Olympian – 4-1
Eastlake – 3-2
Bonita Vista – 2-3
Hilltop – 1-4
Mater Dei Catholic – 0-5

Girls JV/Mesa League
Eastlake – 4-1
Otay Ranch – 4-1
Olympian – 4-1
Hilltop – 1-4
Bonita Vista – 1-4
Mater Dei Catholic – 0-5