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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Cerritos cross country team feeling nostalgic at second Suburban League cluster meet



By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


The final time that the Cerritos High boys and girls cross country teams will run at La Mirada Regional Park for a Suburban League meet was one that head coach Jason Watanabe will remember. Not for the fact that the Cerritos boys won the second league cluster of the season, but because the Dons will be moving to the 605 League next season.

“It was a little surreal running our last race at La Mirada Park in the Suburban League,” he said. “I have a lot of memories in the league. I started as an athlete our first year in the Suburban League and now I am here in our final year in the league.

“It was really great to wear our retro jerseys today,” he continued. “We found a design from nearly forty years ago and printed it on a set of jerseys we use from time to time. The last time we wore them was at the ABC District Championships. It gives the athletes something to look forward to aside from the race. It also allows us to connect with the history of our program, which I think is always important.”

As for the two races, it was status quo this past Wednesday with the Dons defeating Bellflower High 23-34 as the second league cluster meet is dual meet scoring. Norwalk High edged Bellflower 27-28 and La Mirada High 26-29. The final team standings show that Norwalk came in second place, Bellflower third and La Mirada fourth.

The top overall runner was Cerritos sophomore Cole Sawires Yager, who crossed the line in 16:15. The fifth and sixth place positions were held by seniors Mario Amaro (16:59) and Jaineel Patel (17:00) while senior Vraj Patel came in eighth place with a time of 17:04. Senior Fred Inada rounded out the top 10 with a time of 17:20.

“Cole grew a lot since the first cluster,” Watanabe said. “The one thing about him is he is never content with being good enough. He always wants to do everything he can to be the best. He has worked exceptionally hard the past two weeks to improve and I know he will work even harder the next three. His surge in the last half mile was impressive and he showed his ability to be patient and tactical. He still has more in him, but this was a good sign of where he is at. His time of 16:15 was quite impressive considering the grueling nature of this course.”

Norwalk, which finished in fourth place in the first league cluster, was led by junior Jacob Castro, who finished in seventh place with a time of 17:03, junior Gregory Tavares, who came in ninth at 17:19 and junior Joseph Franco, who crossed the line in 11th place at 17:25.

The top two runners for the girls were the same as the first time around as Norwalk seniors Misty Diaz (18:37) and Ruby Galindo (19:10) dominated and helped the Lady Lancers defeat Cerritos 23-34 while the Lady Dons defeated La Mirada 26-29 to get a tie for second place. Cerritos finished in third place on Sept. 28 at Knabe Park. For Diaz, it was the fourth best time ever in league cluster history.

“The girls ran an exceptional race and while there is still room for improvement, I am proud of how they handled themselves in this race,” Watanabe said. “Our pack still needs to move up, but it was nice to challenge up front and ultimately finish second.”

Cerritos junior Jaide Lin (20:24) and senior Laura Sato (20:30) finished in fourth and fifth respectively while freshman Sofia Vasquez was a seventh-place finisher at 20:37. Seniors Marie Chu (21:52) and Brianna Katsuda (22:01) rounded out the top five in 16th and 17th places respectively.

The other three Norwalk runners who helped with the 30 team points were sophomore Natalie Juarez (sixth, 20:35), junior Elizabeth Gallardo (ninth, 20:56) and junior Viviana Rios (12th, 21:11).

Cerritos will compete in the Bell Gardens Invitational on Saturday, then the prestigious Mt. San Antonio College Invitational on Oct. 20-21 before rounding out the regular season with the league finals on Nov. 2 at Knabe Park.


La Mirada High (2-5 overall, 2-1 in the Suburban League) @ Artesia High (3-3, 1-1)-The Pioneers lost a slugfest to John Glenn High last Friday, 44-41, which puts them in a tough situation as far as getting back in the Suburban League playoff race. Artesia faces a Matadores team that is beginning to find their groove after a five-game losing streak to begin the season. Junior quarterback Heder Gladden scored three times against Glenn.

Gahr High (5-1, 1-0 in the San Gabriel Valley League) @ Lynwood High (3-3, 0-1)-Gahr’s defense continues to be the story of the season, allowing 22 points over the past four games and 66 for the season. Last Friday, the Gladiators posted a 24-8 victory at Dominguez High, highlighted by a 50-yard kickoff return from senior Aaron Hawk. Gahr, ranked fourth in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 10 poll, is one of three teams in the circuit with identical overall and league marks. The other two teams will be Gahr’s next two opponents-Warren High and Paramount High.

Glenn (5-2, 2-1) @ Bellflower High (2-4, 0-2)-A win by the Eagles will give the program a winning record for the first time in over two decades. The five wins matches the same total from the 2009 season and one more league win will give the Eagles their most successful league campaign since 2002, the last time they had reached the playoffs. Last season, Glenn fell to the Buccaneers 36-29 and has one win over Bellflower since 1998. Senior tailback Carlos Pulido scored three touchdowns against Artesia last Friday.

Mayfair High (5-1, 2-0) @ Norwalk High (5-2, 2-1)-The Lancers had their brief two-game winning streak stopped after a 37-21 loss to La Mirada. Junior quarterback Brionne Penny scored all three touchdowns. This figures to be the last of Norwalk’s toughest games of the regular season as it will see Cerritos High and Artesia the next two weeks. A Mayfair win would certainly give the Monsoons the Suburban League title.


The end of the regular season is fast approaching and at least two teams, and possibly a third, can pretty much make plans to participate in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section divisional playoffs.

Artesia (4-14, 0-8 in the Suburban League) fell to Bellflower in three this past Tuesday and will travel to La Mirada on Tuesday and Glenn on Thursday. Glenn (7-10, 1-7), which visited Norwalk on Oct. 12, will conclude the season with three straight home matches, including Mayfair on Tuesday. Norwalk (13-9, 5-4) took control of third place with a sweep over La Mirada this past Tuesday and will visit Mayfair on Thursday.

Gahr (6-10, 5-1 in the San Gabriel Valley League) went to Lynwood High on Oct. 12 and will travel to Warren High on Tuesday before welcoming Paramount High on Thursday. Valley Christian High (17-6, 3-1 in the Olympic League) began the second loop of league play with a home match on Oct. 12 against Whittier Christian High and will travel to Village Christian High and Maranatha High on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. Whitney High (3-18, 2-6 in the Academy League) will visit Oxford Academy tonight and Calvary Chapel Downey High on Tuesday before hosting Brethren Christian High on Thursday.