By GAEL PEREZ
Division Four boys stampede to get ahead of one another at the start of the race on Nov. 16, 2019 at the Riverside Cross Country Course. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
The sunrise of Nov. 16, 2019 lit up the skies of Riverside as the CIF-SS Cross Country Preliminaries of Division Two, Four and Five teams commenced. Athletes, coaches and family from all over southern California arrived at the competition.
Nico Young, student at Newbury Park High and holder of the national high school record of 13:39.7 for the three mile, drifts off from his teammate Jace Aschbrenner towards the finish and wins his race on Nov. 16, 2019 at the Riverside Cross Country Course. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
Among Division Two’s 47 teams for the boys and 50 teams for the girls, Citrus Valley High School was set to race at the competition for the first time in three years.
Ethan Romero, freshman at Citrus Valley, leads in front Canyon Springs, running a time of 15:88.8 for the three miles on Nov. 16, 2019 at the Riverside Cross Country Course. Cross Country “was a great experience with my first year at Citrus Valley and I loved running with the team. I can’t wait for next season,” said Romero. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
The boys ran in the first heat of the Division Two boys, competing against 23 teams such as the nationally teams from Newbury Park and El Toro. Led by freshman Ethan Romero and Juan Montes, the Citrus Valley placed 14th, just two places of shy of qualifying for CIF Finals with a score of 368. Christian Fernandez, Aidan Sturtevant and Joseph Gaitan followed as the other three scoring boys alongside Karson Bussell and Arian Mayorga as the sixth and seventh boys.
Jonathan Martinez (left), student at Norte Vista High, battles against Karson Bussell, student at Citrus Valley High, on the final stretch to the finish line on Nov. 16, 2019 at the Riverside Cross Country Course. “I like pushing myself to the point where I can tangibly see improvements in my times. 40 minutes of physical preparation [before races] is small compared to the mental aspect that goes into pre-race,” says Bussell. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
Brooklyn Timm, freshman at Citrus Valley, leads in front of Cerritos and John W. North during the first of three miles on Nov. 16, 2019 at the Riverside Cross Country Course. “What motivates me to run is I get to feel like I accomplished something after I finish and I get food. Also so I can cheer on the boys after my race and motivate them to keep pushing during the race,” says Timm. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
The girls team also competed in the first heat for Division Two with 25 other competing teams in their race. With a score of 485, they placed 20th with freshman Brooklyn Timm coming in first and then followed by Kira Hooper, Bridget McNamara, Itzel Del Rio and Sophia Cantuba, together making up the scoring team. Viviana Sanchez and Shyler Fry later followed to complete the team.
Blackhawk Kira Hooper runs her first mile on the rigorous three mile course on Nov. 16, 2019 at the Riverside Cross Country Course. “I got into running because my parents made me. They wanted me to be fast. My season went well and I had a good time with my team training for CIF,” states Hooper. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
Though it may just be the preliminaries, this event certainly symbolizes the comeback of Citrus Valley Cross Country as this is the first year both the boys and girls team have made it to CIF since the 2016 season.
Bridget McNamara sprints away from other runners on the first mile on Nov. 16, 2019 at the Riverside Cross Country Course. “I like the team most about running; I get to hang out with my friends. My most memorable memory was that time we saved guinea pigs struggling on the side of the road during a run once,” recalls McNamara. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
Senior Sophia Cantuba expressed her feelings about making it to the competition, stating that she “felt an overwhelming amount of just satisfaction,” knowing that “all [their] hard work paid off [her] senior year.”
As she says goodbye to the team, she wishes to announce that “[she] was just so immensely proud of [her] girls.”
Sophia Cantuba (left), senior at Citrus Valley, leads in front of Culver City, Santa Fe and Cerritos on the first of the three miles on Nov. 16, 2019 at the Riverside Cross Country Course. “Running for the past four years has impacted my life more than I would’ve ever imagined and it taught me so many important life lessons. One of which is staying persistent and pushing through all the ups and downs, especially for those you love—which was my team this year,” says Cantuba. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)
Freshman Juan Montes also reflected his first year experience with the team, stating that he “had a great time with the team” and is “glad for everyone.” With this being his first season, Montes “cannot wait for the next season.”
As the cross country season comes to an end for all high school athletes, the competition will certainly continue in track and field. The distance races will arrive on the track in this coming spring.