Cross country still alive in pursuit of CIF title

By Isabel Barbera

Assoc. Opinion Editor

Girls’ cross country earned seventh out of 22 competing teams at the Division III CIF Southern Section Preliminaries on the Riverside City Cross Country Course last Saturday, November 14.

The squad qualified for Section Finals by placing in the top eight of their heat. Finals will be held this upcoming Saturday, November 21, at Mount San Antonio College. The boys’ season was unfortunately discontinued when they placed 11th out of 21.

The girls’ success was expected, and senior Emily Ye lead the team as she has consistently throughout the season. Ye’s 14th place out of 156 runners greatly benefited the team’s overall score, but the Tigers’ final triumph was truly a group effort, as the remaining four scoring positions were all in the top 60. The girls’ accomplishments were impressive especially because usual fourth and fifth runners senior Briana Nuñez and freshman Lindsey Calva, who usually contribute quality points for the team,  could not compete. Calva has suffered a persisting injury since the Rio Hondo League II race and Nuñez was replaced last minute with sophomore alternate Caroline Liu.

Though as a team the boys did not qualify for CIF-SS Finals, many individual runners had exceptional races, with two setting personal records. Third and fourth Tiger runners freshman Francesco Fortunelli and senior Raymond Gilmartin beat their own PR’s by 28 seconds and 18 seconds, respectively. Frontrunner junior Kieran Press-Reynolds placed 19th out of the 146 total runners, rendering him seven places away from individual qualification for CIF Finals. Excluding their elimination from CIF, the boys’ team has had an exceptionally successful season, placing first in every Rio Hondo League race by enormous margins, and clearly dominating rivals San Marino and La Cañada.

“Although I am disappointed we didn’t make it to CIF Finals, we had a lot of fun and gained vital experience,” Press-Reynolds said. “I think the fact that our dream season was cut short will give us the drive to train extremely hard and outrun all of our competitions
next year.”

The girls’ qualification for CIF-SS Finals held next Saturday on the notoriously hilly Mt. SAC course means another week of training and mental preparation. Only the top seven teams of the 16 competing in this upcoming race will qualify for CIF State Finals in Fresno, and since the Tigers were the second to last team in their heat to qualify for Section Finals, it is statistically unlikely that they will advance onward.

“If we want to make it to State it is going to be very difficult, and everyone is going to have to step it up to the next level,” captain senior Maaike Wielenga said. “We are all going to run our hearts out this Saturday, but regardless of the results, we are very excited to be running at CIF Finals.”