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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Cerritos harriers dominate Suburban League finals with lopsided victories

By Loren Kopff

Cerritos High School (logo)

Cerritos High School (logo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the first time since 1998 and second time in school history, the Cerritos boys and girls cross country teams came away as Suburban League champions in the same season. Both teams placed at least six runners in the top 10 and both teams picked up 23 team points this past Wednesday at Cerritos Regional Park.

“This is the reward for the work that they have put in,” said Cerritos head coach Jason Watanabe. “This group has actually stayed together for a long time and so, we always look back at the history of them. We have a lot of athletes who made the improvements over four years.”

Although Mayfair senior Ellis Newton won his third league meet of the season, this one by 23 seconds, Cerritos senior Joshua Quarles finished in second place with a time of 16:25. Right after him was senior Jonathan Carranza in third place at 16:43.

After Norwalk junior Christian Perez claimed fourth place (16:44), the Dons clinched the meet with the fifth, sixth and seventh place runners-senior Shrineel Patel (16:47), freshman Bill Chuang (16:49) and junior Christian Cortez (16:53).

Norwalk, which had dominated the league in recent years with 11 league crowns this century, came in second place with 59 points. Norwalk junior Carlos Nevarez finished in eighth place at 17:00. The top Artesia runner was junior Gil Ong (18:27) while sophomore Michael Estrada (19:15) led John Glenn. This was the second straight boys title for the Dons and fourth since 2007 but two of them have been at Cerritos Regional Park.

Just like the boys, a non-Cerritos runner came away as the top runner as La Mirada sophomore Samantha Huerta crossed the finish line at 19:33, the ninth straight season a La Mirada runner has won the individual league championship. But Cerritos senior Monique Gavilanes (19:56) and sophomore Catherine Lin (20:05) took second and third place respectively. Fourth place belonged to Norwalk sophomore Jennifer Osorio-Melendez (20:11) while the Lady Dons took care of business with the next three spots-junior Alyssa Movchan (20:57), sophomore Amanda Atilano (20:59) and junior Stacy Park (21:07).

“In the beginning of summer, [the girls] were running 10-minute miles for the long runs,” Watanabe said. “We had never done that before. But just because of the group we had, we had to encourage the girls.”

Norwalk junior Rocio Rodriguez (21:14) and Cerritos freshman Melissa Oshiro (21:15) rounded out the top 10 for area teams. The top John Glenn runner was Blanca Reyes (22:14) while sophomore Jessica Gonzalez led the Artesia pack with a time of 23:04.

This was the second league crown in three years for the Lady Dons and third since 1998. La Mirada had won the league from 2001-2010.

“This year there were five teams before league started that I felt could have won the league title,” Watanabe said. “I didn’t know how good everyone was going to be. La Mirada is going to be very solid. We have a lot of young athletes coming back, though.”

The last time both the Cerritos boys and girls won the league finals, Watanabe was a senior for the Dons under the tutelage of Dave Sanford while assistant coach Allison Koizumi was a junior.

“That was our first year in the Suburban League and we were looking forward to moving to the Suburban League from the Mission Valley League, which was a very, very ultra tough league” Watanabe recalls. “Norwalk was good but that league as a whole…we saw it as an opportunity to at least make CIF.”

The CIF preliminaries will be on Nov. 16 at Mt. San Antonio College while the finals will be on Nov. 23.

FOOTBALL

With two weeks left in the regular season, Artesia (5-3 overall, 2-2 in the Suburban League) is still alive for a playoff spot as the Pioneers visit John Glenn tonight. Artesia, coming off a 21-9 win against Bellflower, has won more games since 2008 when it finished 7-4 and advanced to the playoffs. Also tonight, Cerritos (2-6, 1-4) will visit Mayfair and Gahr (3-5, 1-2) travels to Dominguez. Valley Christian, on the heels of a 37-7 win against Village Christian, will travel to Heritage Christian on Saturday. The Crusaders are 3-5 overall but 2-0 in the Olympic League.

VOLLEYBALL

The shocking match of the past seven days came this past Tuesday when Gahr outlasted San Gabriel Valley League frontrunner Downey 25-20, 25-22, 19-25, 22-25, 15-8 for its first win over the Vikings since 1998. The Gladiators (9-13, 4-3) will host Lynwood on Tuesday and Bellflower on Wednesday to wrap up the regular season.

Artesia (1-13, 0-10) visits Bellflower on Monday before hosting Downey and Cerritos the next two days. Glenn (6-19, 2-9) goes to Norwalk on Wednesday while Whitney (7-10, 5-5) has clinched at least fourth place in the Academy League and will visit St. Margaret’s this evening before hosting Oxford Academy on Tuesday evening.

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