It was nothing short of a superlative showing by Metro Conference cross country runners at last Friday’s 31-team 24th annual Mustang Invitational at Rohr Park.
- Sweetwater senior Alfred Vargas won the individual title in the Silver Division boys junior varsity race, covering 2.2 miles in 12:44.79.
- Bonita Vista freshman Samuel Hernandez won the individual title in the Blue Division boys JV race with a time of 12:19.76, also covering 2.2 miles.
- Sweetwater junior Jose Galvan won the individual title in the Silver Division boys varsity 5K race in 16:56.86.
- Olympian senior Mariana Beltran-Picos won the individual title in the Blue Division girls varsity race, covering 2.2 miles in 13:18.52.
There were five team champions among Metro Conference schools — two varsity and three junior varsity.
Additionally, seven Metro teams recorded second-place finishes — four varsity and three junior varsity.
Among varsity team entries:
- Mater Dei Catholic won the Silver Division girls team title by a 10-point margin over runner-up Sweetwater.
- Sweetwater won the Silver Division boys team title by out-pointing runner-up San Ysidro by 19 points and third place Southwest by 42 points.
- Bonita Vista finished second in Blue Division boys standings, trailing team champion Scripps Ranch by 19 points.
- Eastlake finished second in the Blue Division girls standings, placing eight points behind team champion Scripps Ranch.
Among junior varsity team entries:
- Eastlake finished first in the Blue Division girls standings with a division low 31 points to edge runner-up Point Loma by six points.
- Bonita Vista captured the Blue Division boys title by a six-point margin over Olympian.
- Southwest won the Silver Division boys championship by 16 points over runner-up San Ysidro.
- Mater Dei Catholic finished second to Our Lady of Peace in the Silver Division girls standings.
The top 35 individual finishers in varsity races received medals while the top 30 finishers in JV races did so.
Sweetwater coach Jaime Romero admitted he was stunned by the Red Devils’ showing at the meet that boasted more than 1,100 runners.
“Right now, I’m beyond words,” he said.
The SuHi coach definitely had a lot to be proud of.
Vargas, a two-time national youth boxing champion, was competing in his first high school sport of any kind. He broke out to a quick lead and maintained, if not expanded, it with a jaw-dropping victory by 25 seconds over the next runner, Mar Vista junior Marc Murtaugh (13:09.21), in the 106-deep field.
Running is nothing new for the Devil senior, though this time it was against other individuals.
“I just went out there doing what I normally do,” Vargas said. “I’m a boxer and run every day for training.
“This was the first time I ever competed for my school in any sport, and I’m very proud to represent my school.”
Needless to say, Romero said Vargas will receive an instant promotion to the varsity team.
Meanwhile, Galvan, a miler in the track season running in his first cross country race, went out and grabbed the lead with a little more than a mile remaining and never let up in winning by a 16-second margin over runner-up Ataklty Gebru, a junior from Hoover.
“I was very nervous,” Galvan admitted. “I didn’t know what pace I was supposed to do. I just wanted to make the top 10, make the top group.
“We went to the hill and the guys ahead of me kind of died, and I made my move at the two-mile mark. I figured the other guys were just as tired as I was, so I took off.”
The Devils weren’t finished jamming the finish line as Sweetwater placed six runners among the top 17 finishers in the 89-deep race.
Following Galvan’s lead were junior Angel Rodriguez (10th, 18:07.48), junior Alberto Barraza (13th, 18:24.39), senior Lorenzo Martinez (15th, 18:39.34), junior Cesar Gonzalez (16th, 18:40.59) and junior Michael Mayfield (17th, 18:43.34).
As an added bonus, junior Gabriela Rodriguez finished sixth in the 78-deep Silver Division girls varsity race in 14:51.6. Overall, six of the eight Devils in the race received medals.
Eastlake’s showing was just as electrifying. The Titan girls JV team packed four runners among the top nine finishers and six among the top 13 finishers. Eastlake had nine runners medal in the 207-deep field.
Freshman Selena Wimbish finished second among individuals in 10:39.55, followed on the 1.65-mile course by freshman Lake Merrifield (fourth, 10:47.03), junior Pia Davila (sixth, 10:57.61), freshman Savannah Kipp (seventh, 11:00.91) and senior Ana Manriquez Graf (12th, 11:16.62) to round out the team’s top five scorers.
Eastlake’s girls varsity team placed four runners among the top 18 finishers and all five scorers among the top 30 finishers in the 91-deep race.
Senior Luz Mercado finished third among individuals in 13:20.36 — two seconds behind Beltran-Picos and less than one second behind runner-up Peri Kraft, a sophomore from Valhalla. Junior Patricia Miessner, last year’s Division I champion, finished seventh in 13:41.01, followed by senior Ana Mercado (12th, 13:56.22), freshman Natalie Borba (18th, 14:11.31) and junior Meg Bailey (30th, 14:34.39).
Defending Mesa League champion Olympian finished sixth in the division — 105 points behind the Titans.
“We have a young team but I still expect the girls to contend for a league championship,” EHS coach David Koopman said.
Bonita Vista returns four runners from last year’s San Diego Section Division I championship team: seniors Mario Barone, Jonathan Kelly, Christian Mason and Christian Salt.
The Barons recorded six medalists at last Friday’s invitational, led by three runners who placed among the top 13 finishers.
Kelly finished ninth in 16:55.22, followed by Salt (12th, 16:59.14), junior Gustavo Vazquez (13th, 17:07.81), Barone (19th, 17:19.57), junior Noah Nafarrete (29th, 17:37.52) and Mason (33rd, 17:42.20).
Bonita Vista edged Point Loma by one point to secure second place in the 108-deep division despite one runner inadvertently taking a wrong turn on the course.
“It was a good day for racing,” new BVHS coach Dan Kettlehake explained. “We are focusing on November; we really haven’t started training hard yet.
“The boys are very highly motivated to repeat everything they accomplished last year — to repeat as league champions, CIF champions and compete at the state meet.”
There appears to be more in the BV pipeline. Hernandez won his JV race by an eight-second margin over Point Loma sophomore Jyden Schmid (12:27.35) as the Barons captured the division title by 11 points over runner-up Olympian.
“I just wanted to maintain a good pace; it feels nice winning,” Hernandez gushed.
The Barons flooded the massive 170-deep field with two runners among the top three finishers, four runners in the top 16 and five in the top 19. BV junior Alberto Rosas was third in 12:28.35 while Olympian senior Andres Arriola was fourth in 12:31.34.
Beltran-Picos, a two-time state meet qualifier, ran a stellar race to finish on top of the Blue Division girls varsity field that included a wild sprint to the finish.
The Olympian runner held off three hard-charging challengers to win by 1.1 seconds in her first race of the new season.
“I was aiming for the top three,” explained Beltran-Picos, who finished runner-up to Eastlake’s Miessner at last year’s league finals. “I knew it was going to be a fast race. At first I got a little too excited; I went out too fast. But then I started to set my goal to develop a good pace to win the race.”
Mater Dei Catholic positioned itself to win the Silver Division girls varsity race by placing its five scorers among the top 34 finishers, including the top four runners among the top 17 finishers.
Junior Christine Carey led the Crusaders with a fifth-place individual finish in 14:49.68 — tops among Metro runners in the race.
Chula Vista, paced by senior Mya Thomas (seventh, 14:56.02) placed fourth in the team standings in the division.
Mater Dei Catholic freshman Carolina Reynoso was the team’s top finisher (fifth place) in the Silver Division girls JV race in 11:55.09.
South County teams made a strong showing in the Silver Division boys JV race with Sweetwater, San Ysidro, Mar Vista and Sweetwater finishing at the top of the standings in that order.
San Ysidro placed three runners among the top eight finishers in the Silver Division boys varsity race — sophomore Missael Felix (fifth, 17:41.74), senior Edgar Jimenez (sixth, 17:43.22) and junior Azhdeb Carbajal (eighth, 17:53.97).
Southwest senior Esteban Magana finished fourth among individuals in the race in 17:33.27.
High Tech High Chula Vista junior Drake Prince finished seventh among individuals in the Blue Division boys varsity race in 16:46.16 to earn honors as the top finishing South County runner in the division.
Junior Colby Parise (17:27.59) and senior Joel Talamayan (17:27.98) finished 22nd and 23rd among individuals, respectively, to lead fifth place Otay Ranch in the race. The Mustangs finished 10 points ahead of sixth place Eastlake.
Senior Edgar Ramos was Eastlake’s top finisher (30th) in 17:35.80.
The top six finishers in the Silver Division boys JV raced were all from the Metro Conference. San Ysidro senior Brandon Ruvalcaba was third in 13:17.06 after Sweetwater’s Vargas and Mar Vista’s Murtaugh. Southwest senior Kevin Guzman was fourth in 13:24.84, followed by Mar Vista freshman Levi Wold (fifth, 13:26.97) and Southwest freshman William Wines (sixth, 13:27.73).
Southwest had seven medalists in the division while San Ysidro, Mar Vista and Sweetwater each had five medalists.
Mustang Invitational gets top notch eastern exposure
Among the East County leaders on the course were Christian sophomores Alaina Zamorano and Leah Kunde, Valhalla sophomore Peri Kraft and Helix junior Jaden Forester.
- Zamorano won the Silver Division girls varsity race with a time of 13:36.98 while Kunde won the Silver Division girls junior varsity race with a time of 10:58.69.
- Kraft finished second among the 91 individuals in the Blue Division girls varsity race with a time of 13:19.62.
- Forester placed fifth in the 108-deep Blue Division boys varsity race with a time of 16:39.96.
Girls varsity runners ran 2.2 miles while boys varsity runners competed on a 5K course. Junior varsity girls races competed on a 1.65-mile course while JV boys races were contested at 2.2 miles.
- Valhalla finished fourth in the Blue Division boys varsity team standings and fifth in the Blue Division girls varsity field.
- Helix finished ninth among teams in the Blue Division boys varsity race and 11th among teams in the Blue Division girls varsity race.
Zamorano, who won last year’s San Diego Section Division V race as a freshman before going on to post a meteoric sixth-place individual finish at the state meet, easily won last Friday’s race, finishing 25 seconds ahead of Escondido Charter sophomore Rachel White (14:01.47).
Kraft, who finished ninth at last year’s San Diego Section Division II finals as a freshman, finished just one second out of first place in last Friday’s race. Olympian senior Mariana Beltran-Picos timed 13:18.52 to win the race, just 1.1 seconds ahead of Kraft in a hard-charging finish.
Eastlake senior Luz Mercado finished third in 13:20.36 while Ramona junior Amy Brown finished fourth in 13:20.82 to complete a tightly packed lead pack of four runners.
Kraft finished more than a minute ahead of Valhalla’s next scoring runner, sophomore Kate Baranski, who finished in 25th place with a time of 14:24.05. Valhalla sophomore Jessie Rincon finished in 31st place in 14:34.84 to also earn a medal.
Forester was the top East County placer in the Blue Division boys varsity race. Crawford senior Nader Ali was the breakaway leader, winning by an 11-second margin in 16:12.82.
Ramona senior Jack Clough finished second in 16:23.58, followed by Scripps Ranch senior Ryan Connors in 16:32.33 and Pont Loma senior Joshua Bauer in 16:34.35.
Forester edged Point Loma senior Hunter Sweet (16:40.63) by one second to capture fifth place.
Other East County medalists in the race included Valhalla seniors Jake Waymire (15th, 17:09.8) and Ramon Owens (17th, 17:11.33), Helix senior Eduardo Martinez (18th, 17:12.26) and Valhalla senior Cooper Olander (27th, 17:34.63).
Forester, who finished third at last year’s league finals, opened the season by winning the junior boys race at the Wolf Pack Invitational Aug. 31 at West Hills High School with a time of 10:16 (2.1 miles).
He said his goal is to eventually break 16:00 on a 5K course.
“I was just trying to hang on to the top pack and not to let go,” he said of his strategy in last Friday’s race.
Scripps Ranch (63 points) edged Bonita Vista (82 points) and Point Loma (83 points) to finish on top of the Blue Division boys varsity team standings.
Scripps Ranch (57 points) edged Eastlake (65 points) and Point Loma (74 points) to top the Blue Division girls varsity team standings.
Kunde topped the 118-deep field in the Silver Division girls JV race. Overall, three Christian runners came out of the finishing chute with medals. Christian freshman Allie Buchmann finished eighth in 11:59.85 while classmate Amy Turner finished 10th in 12:18.81.
Our Lady of Peace finished with four of the top six runners to easily win the team title with 17 points.
Valhalla, paced by ninth-place medalist Emily McBride (11:07.56), finished fifth among the 11 scoring teams in the Blue Division girls JV standings.
The Norsemen also finished fifth in the 170-deep Blue Division boys JV race. Valhalla had three runners place among the top nine finishers in the 2.2-mile race: freshman Isaac Cesena (seventh, 12:49.01), junior Nathan Hernandez (eighth, 12:50.76) and freshman Manuel Campos (ninth, 12:52.19).
The El Capitan Vaquero Stampede officially faced off the 2018 high school cross country season Aug. 25 at Lakeside’s Lindo Lake.
Top East County female runners included Kraft (first in the Division II girls frosh/soph race with a time of 9:43), Zamorano (first the Division III frosh/soph race in 9:38), El Capitan junior Carolinh Calvert (second in the Division II girls junior/senior race in 9:37) and Kunde (fourth in the Division III frosh/soph race in 10:14)
Top East County male runners included El Capitan senior Matt Machnov (second in the Division II boys junior/senior race in 10:36), Granite Hills sophomore Manuel Garcia (fourth in the Division II boys frosh/soph race in 8:38) and Santana sophomore Jack McMackin (fifth in the Division III frosh/soph race in 8:51).
All girls races were contested at 1.65 miles. Boys races were 2.15 miles for juniors and senior while freshmen and sophomores ran 1.65 miles.
Friday, Sept. 7 at Rohr Park
South County Medalists
Boys Varsity Blue Division (5K)
1. Scripps Ranch 63
2. Bonita Vista 82
3. Point Loma 83
4. Valhalla 140
5. Otay Ranch 178
6. Eastlake 188
7. Ramona 212
8. Crawford 218
9. Helix 252
10. Serra 258
11. Olympian 260
12. High Tech High Chula Vista 261
13. Rancho Buena Vista 293
14. Oceanside 321
Top Individuals/Top 35 Medal
7. Drake Prince (High Tech High Chula Vista), junior, 16:46.16
9. Jonathan Kelly (Bonita Vista), senior, 16:55.22
12. Christian Salt (Bonita Vista), senior, 16:59.14
13. Gustavo Vazquez (Bonita Vista), junior, 17:07.81
19. Mario Barone (Bonita Vista), senior, 17:19.57
22. Colby Parise (Otay Ranch), junior, 17:27.59
23. Joel Talamayan (Otay Ranch), senior, 17:27.98
26. Aiden Ramirez (High Tech High Chula Vista), junior, 17:31.96
28. Edgar Ramos (Eastlake), senior, 17:35.80
29. Noah Nafarrete (Bonita Vista), junior, 17:37.52
33. Christian Mason (Bonita Vista), senior, 17:42.30
35. Jaydon Caoile (Olympian), senior, 17:46/86
Race winner: Nader Ali (Crawford), senior, 16:12.82
Boys Varsity Silver Division (5K)
1. Sweetwater 55
2. San Ysidro 74
3. Southwest 97
4. Mission Nay 112
5. Hoover 134
6. Mar Vista 151
7. St. Augustine 166
8. Chula Vista 192
9. Escondido Charter 214
10. Castle Park 268
11. Mater Dei Catholic 286
12. Montgomery 293
13. Mountain Empire 368
Top Individuals/Top 35 Medal
1. Jose Galvan (Sweetwater), junior, 16:56.86
4. Esteban Magana (Southwest), senior, 17:33.27
5. Missael Felix (San Ysidro), sophomore, 17:41.74
6. Edgar Jimenez (San Ysidro), senior, 17:434.22
8. Azhdeb Carbajal (San Ysidro), junior, 17:53.97
10. Angel Rodriguez (Sweetwater), junior, 18:07.48
12. Sebastian Pimentel (Mar Vista), junior, 18:18;08
13. Alberto Barazza (Sweetwater), junior, 18:24.39
15. Lorenzo Martinez (Sweetwater), senior, 18:39.34
16. Cesar Gonzalez (Sweetwaterz0, junior, 18:40.59
17. Michael Mayfield (Sweetwater), 18:43.34
18. Joel Escovedo (Southwest), junior, 18;46.69
19. Juan Juarez (San Ysidro), senior, 18:48.42
20. Santiago Agreda (Southwest), senior, 18:49.48
24. David Landeros (Chula Vista), junior, 19:03.16
25. Lorenzo Fitzgerald (Southwest), junior, 19:03.67
26. Roberto Parra (Castle Park), junior, 19:08.64
28. Cezar Carvajal (Chula Vista), junior, 19:10.69
29. Robert Gonzalez (Mar Vista), junior, 19:13.88
31. Adrian Bueno (Mar Vista), senior, 19:18.52
32. Francisco Romero (Sweetwater), senior, 19:19.88
33. Diego Corrales (Southwest), senior, 19:25.83
34. Marcell Alfonso (Chula Vista), junior, 19:27.13
Boys Junior Varsity Blue Division (2.2 miles)
1. Bonita Vista 54
2. Olympian 65
3. Point Loma 67
4. Scripps Ranch 91
5. Valhalla 106
6. Otay Ranch 138
7. Serra 205
8. Eastlake 237
9. Ramona 266
10. Helix 284
11. Oceanside 349
12. High Tech High Chula Vista 372
Top Individuals/Top 30 Medals
- Samuel Hernandez (Bonita Vista), freshman, 12:19.76
2. Alberto Rosas (Bonita Vista), junior, 12:28.57
4. Andres Arriola (Olympian), senior, 12:31.34
10. Brandon Vergara (Olympian), junior, 12:58.74
14. Kerris Stambaugh (Olympian), senior, 13:00.10
15. Gabriela Ledezma (Bonita Vista), senior, 13:00.30
16. Ethan Gamboa (Bonita Vista), junior, 13:04.34
17. Lucas Leon (Olympian), sophomore, 13:06.13
19. Rene Espinosa (Bonita Vista), senior, 13:07.76
20. Marko Alvarez (Olympian), senior, 13:08.78
21. Miguel Suarez (Otay Ranch), junior, 13:10.28
22. Joshua Quinones (Olympian), junior, 13:11.90
23. Alexander Shockney (Olympian), senior, 13:13.11
25. Daniel Gallardo (Olympian), junior, 13:16.21
26. Enrique Aranda (Bonita Vista), freshman, 13:16.49
27. Albert Nguyen (Otay Ranch), senior, 13:16.81
29. Daniel Kim (Otay Ranch), freshman, 13:21.56
Boys Junior Varsity Silver Division (2.2 miles)
1. Southwest 48
2. San Ysidro 64
3. Mar Vista 82
4. Sweetwater 84
5. Mission Bay 118
6. Escondido Charter 121
7. Castle Park 214
8. Chula Vista 234
Top Individuals/Top 30 Medals
1. Alfred Vargas (Sweetwater), senior, 12:44.79
2. Marc Murtaugh (Mar Vista), junior, 13:09.21
3. Brandon Ruvalcaba (San Ysidro), senior, 13:17.06
4. Kevin Guzman (Southwest), senior, 13:24.84
5. Levi Wold (Mar Vista), freshman, 13:26.97
6. William Wines (Southwest), freshman, 13:27.73
8. Daniel Ascencio (San Ysidro), sophomore, 13:33.99
10. Armando Soto (Southwest), junior, 13:36.89
12. Bryan Garcia (Southwest), junior, 13:43.64
14. Carlos Sanchez (Sweetwater), junior, 13:44.76
15. Luis Vega (San Ysidro), senior, 13:47.97
16. Manuel Bacerra (Sweetwater), junior, 13:51.45
18. Christopher Rojas (San Ysidro), freshman, 13;57.91
19. Christian Alvarez (Southwest), senior, 14:02.90
21. Ricardo Luna Perez (Southwest), sophomore, 14:07.02
24. Michael Ramos (Southwest), freshman, 14:24.20
25. Erick Rodriguez (San Ysidro), senior, 14:28.98
26. Logan Wilson (Mar Vista), junior, 14:27.40
27. Sebastian Camberos (Mar Vista), freshman, 14:30.07
28. Alejandro Martinez (Mar Vista), freshman, 14:31.04
29. Edgar Sanchez (Sweetwater), junior, 14:35.26
30. Ricardo Cruz (Sweetwater), junior, 14:36.30
Girls Varsity Silver Division (2.2 miles)
1. Mater Dei Catholic 60
2. Sweetwater 70
3. Our Lady of Peace 79
4. Chula Vista 123
5. Hoover 131
6. Mission Bay 137
7. Southwest 194
8. Castle Park 195
9. Mar Vista 211
10. San Ysidro 223
Top Individuals/Top 35 Medals
5. Christine Carey (Mater Dei Catholic), junior, 14:49.68
6. Gabriela Rodriguez (Sweetwater), 14:51.81
7. Mya Thomas (Chula Vista), senior, 14:56.02
8. Natalie Chavaria (Mster Dei Catholic), senior, 15:02.44
10. Estela Bustillos (Castle Park), junior, 15:05.53
13. Amalia Koch (Mater Dei Catholic), sophomore, 15:12.77
16. Audrey Vargas (Sweetwater), sophomore, 15:36.73
17. Dasha Battaglia (Mater Dei Catholic), junior, 15:45.60
19. Elvia Lara (Chula Vista), sophomore, 16:00.68
21. Brizeth Barajas (Sweetwater), junior, 16:10.24
22. Monica Lona (Sweetwater), junior, 16:11.79
23. Beatriz Espeleta (Sweetwater), sophomore, 16:29.07
28. Andrea Sarabia (Castle Park), sophomore, 16:35.11
31. Cheyra Torres (Sweetwater), sophomore, 16:44.93
33. Clarissa Hoffas (Chula Vista), sophomore, 16:52.08
34. Mary Margaret Chiappe (Mater Dei Catholic), sophomore, 16:53.58
35. Galilea Palencia (Southwest), junior, 16:55.38
Race winner: Alaina Zamorano (Christian), sophomore, 13:36.98
Girls Varsity Blue Division (2.2 miles)
1. Scripps Ranch 57
2. Eastlake 65
3. Point Loma 74
4. Ramona 85
5. Valhalla 139
6. Olympian 170
7. Oceanside 191
8. Otay Ranch 197
9. Rancho Buena Vista 288
10. Bonita Vista 290
11. Helix 300
12. High Tech High Chula Vista 324
Top Individuals/Top 35 Medal
1. Mariana Beltran-Picos (Olympian), senior, 13:18.52
3. Luz Mercado (Eastlake), senior, 13:20.36
7. Patricia Miessner (Eastlake), junior, 13:41.01
12. Ana Mercado (Eastlake), senior, 13:56.22
18. Natalie Borba (Eastlake), freshman, 14:11.31
22. Rosanna Javier (Olympian), junior, 14:17.18
28. Virginia Javier (Olympian), junior, 14:32.48
30. Meg Bailey (Eastlake), junior, 14:34.39
32. Alexyia Hernandez (Otay Ranch), senior, 14:37.44
33. Katherine Robinson (Eastlake), freshman, 14:41.58
Excellent coverage & pics Phillip Brents
Great job SUHI, proud of you!!!!!