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605 LEAGUE CROSS COUNTRY TIME TRIAL: Cerritos High hosts first 605 League cross country event


Cerritos cross country head coach Jason Watanabe (left) sends off the 28 Cerritos varsity and junior varsity runners who ran in last Saturday’s 605 League time trial race. Cerritos was the second of the six schools to race as each school ran separate of each other.


By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

March 18, 2021

It may have been an unconventional form of a cross country event, but for the 64 runners who came out to Cerritos High last Saturday morning, they just wanted to run. The 605 League finally started their very brief boys and girls cross country season with a time trial run around the high school, most of which took place on the back end of the school.

“It was definitely exciting just to see the athletes have an opportunity to get on the course and race,” said Cerritos head coach Jason Watanabe. “Even though it wasn’t head to head, they still compared times and even just with each other, they can have that competition that they didn’t have before.”

Instead of the popular cluster meets or even a dual meet, the 605 League decided to have each school run separately, roughly 50 minutes to an hour apart from the next school, and in alphabetical order. While there were no team scores, the times of each runner were still kept and at the end of the race, those times were placed in order, just like a normal cluster meet. Cerritos was the only school to have at least six varsity runners for both its boys and girls teams and each league school had at least two varsity runners.

The three-mile course began on the south end of the soccer field just behind the first base dugout of the softball field and made its way north around the baseball field, along the blacktop and back towards the track where the runners would go about 300 yards before exiting the track to run alongside the west end of the tennis courts, running behind the track and back to the baseball field. The one-mile mark was just past the start line and after making a second trip around the baseball field, the runners would make a right turn on the blacktop just before the track and make their way towards the parking lot off Bloomfield Ave. Once they reached the end of the east gymnasium, they would turn left and run through the school to the back side of the front office, turn left and head towards the other parking lot. The two-mile mark was once the runners reached the blacktop for the third time. From there, they would make another loop around the gymnasium and through the school again before going around the baseball field and athletic fields in the opposite direction before finishing the race behind the bleachers of the softball field.

“Since this was a time trial, there’s really no team concept to it,” Watanabe said. “It’s just learning the course and getting the opportunity to run. I just really enjoyed the fact that they could come out here and be in a jersey and run the course.”

Watanabe said it took him longer to set up the race because of the recent rain. But he said a decent amount was set up last Tuesday. Last Friday, the Cerritos coaches spent another three to four hours setting up the course and another hour last Saturday morning prior to the six Artesia High runners making their way to the campus. This will be the same course that the league will run for its meet on Saturday as well as the last one on Mar. 27. And, while one school is running, the next school is warming up in the baseball field.

For the girls, Cerritos senior Sofia Vasquez and sophomore Sydney Romero had the fastest times at 19:55 and 22:58 respectively. After a pair of Oxford Academy runners had the next fastest times, Whitney High senior Julianna Lee finished with the fifth best time at 23:29, followed by Cerritos sophomore Sofia Padilla at 23:51.

Whitney sophomore Layla Lacorte, who is also an up and coming star on the basketball team, had the eighth best time (24:46) before Cerritos juniors Kailah Usi and Tara Wang finished next at 25:21 and 25:22, respectively. The top Artesia runner, who had the 11th best time, was junior Lizabeth Ortega (25:55) and the lone John Glenn High female runner was senior Kaitlyn Martinez, who had a time of 28:10.

The other three area girls who were part of the 16 varsity runners were Cerritos junior Annabelle Bernardo (12th, 26:30), Whitney senior Kritika Pantha (14th, 27:43) and Artesia senior Marissa Hernandez (16th, 28:26).

For the varsity boys, the second, third and fourth best times were run by Cerritos junior Michael Rafael (17:15), senior Anrei Giordano (17:28) and junior Andrew Hwang (17:37). Following a pair of Oxford Academy runners, the next three times were all from Cerritos-senior Chris Amaro (18:23), junior Kevin Hamakawa (18:30) and senior Eric Perez (18:55). The seventh Cerritos runner to compete was senior Jayson Malhi, who had the 13th best time at 19:43.

The top Artesia runner was junior Jareth Navarro, who had the 10th best time at 19:04 while the lone Glenn runner, with the 14th best time, was sophomore Javier Reynoso (20:07). Sophomore Agam Makkar paced Whitney with the 15th best time (20:14).

Artesia had three other varsity runners-junior Angel Buenrostro (12th, 19:35), junior Fernando Gonzalez-Gallo (17th, 20:32) and junior Michael Jaydan (23rd, 24:58) while the other four Whitney varsity runners were freshman Steven Cao (20:28), senior Jeffrey Fernandez (20th, 20:49), sophomore Colin Choi (21st, 21:14) and sophomore Ethan Choe (22nd, 24:43).

“If the weather gets warmer, the times may not get faster,” Watanabe predicted for Saturday’s second league meet. “But definitely, athletes will get to strategize a little bit more and figure out [how to] be more aggressive. They can shave off 30 seconds to a minute for some of them.”