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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW : Cerritos girls claim top spot in 605 League’s first cross country cluster meet

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

The inaugural 605 League cross country cluster meet last Thursday at Knabe Park felt like another Suburban League or Academy League cluster meet. You still had Cerritos High squaring off against Artesia High and John Glenn High, although the latter two didn’t field full teams, and you had longtime rivals Oxford Academy going against Whitney High.

But, this is a new league with Pioneer High as the other newcomer and right off the bat, the Titans are claiming their stance as the team to beat on the boys side. As far as the girls, it was status quo as Cerritos picked up 27 points to win the race by seven points over Whitney.

“It was really fun to race against new teams,” said Cerritos head coach Jason Watanabe. “The league kind of feels a little bit strange because it’s a lot smaller. So, the [junior varsity] level is a little bit different than it was in the Suburban League.”

Cerritos senior Jaide Lin (20:28) and sophomore Sofia Vasquez (21:02) took the first two spots as the Lady Dons captured four of the top six spots. Finishing third and fourth respectively for Whitney were senior Christine Hamakawa (21:49) and sophomore Christine David (21:52). Cerritos sophomore Samantha Chang and senior Lauren Park grabbed the next two finishes at 21:54 and 22:11 respectively while Whitney sophomore Kritika Pantha came in seventh place with a time of 22:14.

“It’s been nice to have Jaide,” Watanabe said. “She came from the tennis program, but she’s stepped up as the leader. It’s nice to have somebody as that leader to come in and mentor the girls and work with them. We have a lot of young athletes this year.”

Whitney eased into the second-place finish as Oxford Academy picked up 84 points and Pioneer finished in fourth place with 89 points, including runners in the eighth and 10thspots. In fact, after the first 11 runners crossed the finish line, Cerritos was up 14-34. Artesia and John Glenn each did not have a runner participate

“It felt a little bit more like a dual meet in that sense,” Watanabe said of his team against Whitney. “And our athletes are a little bit tired; we came back from Hawai’i on Tuesday morning. So, our four and five are struggling a little bit.”

On the boys side, it was all about Pioneer, who made it a clean sweep, claiming five of the top six spots and easily defeating Whitney 15-66. Coming in third place with 74 points was Cerritos while Oxford Academy had 81 points.

“Today, in the boys varsity race, there was a close match in that two, three and four spot,” Watanabe said. “But I guess it was a good year to move [into the new league]. We lost a lot of our seniors from last year, and our number one [runner] moved. Having these new, inexperienced athletes…it was good to get them in a close, competitive race.”

The top Cerritos runner was sophomore Michael Giordano, who finished in seventh place at 18:22. Right behind him was Whitney freshman Lorenzo Rodriguez (18:22). Oxford Academy and Pioneer would alternate the next four spots before Whitney junior Rishi Golani took 13th with a time of 18:45. After that, six of the next seven spots would be occupied by either a Cerritos or Whitney runner.

“If everybody were to run where they usually do, we would have had a shot for that second spot,” Watanabe said. “They’ve been up and down and a lot of that is just inexperience. I told them already last week that they’re going to have to take some hits early on.”

Artesia had a pair of runners with senior Daniel Alonzo tying Pioneer’s Marcelo Martinez for first place at 17:56 and sophomore Joel Martinez placing 14thwith a time of 18:47. Junior Vidal Reynoso was the lone Glenn runner and finished with a time of 23:49. The second cluster meet is Oct. 4 at La Mirada Regional Park.


Artesia (4-1) @ Segerstrom High (5-1)-While the Pioneers, ranked 10thin the CIF-Southern Section Division 12 poll, have scored at least 40 points during their four-game winning streak, the tough part of the schedule begins tonight against the Jaguars, who are ranked seventh in Division 9. Artesia is coming off a 46-26 win against El Dorado High last Friday night as senior quarterback Heder Gladden added three more rushing touchdowns. He now has 17 for the season. Segerstrom is coming off a 64-20 victory against University High and are a balanced team, rushing for 1,121 yards and passing for 947 yards. On defense, the Jags have 39 sacks, led by Emerson Aldana (seven and a half) and Paul Roa (seven). Beginning with tonight’s game, the combined record of the remaining five opponents Artesia will face is 20-9.

Dominguez High (2-3) @ Gahr High (1-4)-The second half problems continue for Gahr, which saw a 16-14 halftime lead evaporate into a 35-22 setback to Mayfair High last Friday night. The Gladiators, now on a four-game losing streak, have been outscored 63-29 in the second half in those four losses with one touchdown being scored in each of those games. This will be the San Gabriel Valley League opener for both teams and the visiting Dons bring with them an interesting passing attack that has produced 928 yards and 12 touchdowns but 12 interceptions from Tyler Brown-Lyons. Sean Harlston is his favorite target (18 receptions, 473 yards, eight touchdowns). Gahr is also a passing team as senior quarterback Jordan Simpson has nearly 1,000 yards with a dozen touchdowns.

Glenn (3-3) @ Norwalk High (0-6)-The game of the week, maybe not on paper, features two city rivals no longer league opponents, but still play for the Mayor’s Cup. Norwalk has dominated this series for the past 15 seasons, but last season, defeated the Eagles 20-14. During their 15-game winning streak, the Lancers have posted six shutouts and have allowed less than 10 points another two times. But tonight, the Eagles could very well be taking home the prized trophy.

Glenn edged Hawthorne High 51-50 last Friday night and has scored at least 28 points in five games this season, but the defense has yielded 92 points in the last two contests. Norwalk, on the verge of missing the CIF-Southern Section playoffs for the first time since 2006, was blanked for the second straight week, this time to Norte Vista High 56-0. The Lancers have scored seven touchdowns this season and a loss will give the program its worst mark since 2011 when it went 3-8.