The Long Beach Poly cross country team after their UCSB Invite title run earlier this year; the Moore League cross country season starts this evening at 5 p.m. at El Dorado Park.
The back of the Long Beach Poly boys’ cross country team’s shirts every year include the numbers “3-7.” If they were football players, that wouldn’t seem like a particularly lofty goal, but for the Poly runners, it encompasses everything they’re aiming for each year.
The “3” represents a desire to win the Moore League team title at all three levels, something they’ve done for more than ten years running, with the varsity team winning the last 11 consecutive titles and 21 of the last 22. The “7” is for the seven teams that will advance from the CIF Southern Section finals to the State meet, something Poly did last year and aims to do again.
The Jackrabbits are in good shape with returners like league champion Will Frankenfeld, and key varsity contributors Ronan McMahon-Staggs and Daniel Bautista. Poly earned the No. 3 ranking in the first CIF-SS Division 1 poll of the season.
“There’s positives and negatives to it,” said longtime Poly cross country coach Mike Fillipow. “It’s good to have an experienced crew that knows what it takes to do what we want to do. There’s also that second marathon syndrome–you do one and then the second time you’re not always as hungry.”
Frankenfeld has already won one meet this year and looks like one of Southern California’s top runners. Behind him are McMahon-Staggs, Bautista, and Zane Witter, with Devin Koval, Alex Matos, and Chris Yontz likely rounding out the varsity seven.
“We’re set up pretty good, on some of our data we’re actually a little faster than last year,” said Fillipow. “As long as we stay hungry and healthy it’s going to be a good year.”
Last year the Rams finished second in the Moore League, but Millikan graduated a host of runners from the program. Head coach Melissa Cortes is excited about the season nonetheless.
“We have only one senior and the rest of the group will be coming back next year,” she said. “We have a very talented group, it’s about focusing on our teamwork and dedication to finish strong.”
Millikan’s top runners will be Sebastian DeBiase, Scott Kirchhoff, and Jasper Loverude.
Wilson has one of the best runners in school history in junior Caden Elsesser, who ran a three-mile time of 15:04 last year, second fastest in school history. Elsesser leads a talented Bruins crew that includes freshman Nico Colchico, and juniors Zami Moscoso, Ryan Mckinney, and Robert Navarro.
“Our continued improvement is exciting to watch, but it is expected of them,” said Wilson coach CJ Brewer. “Given the hard work they put in, it is only natural that results like this will continue to build.”
The Lancers are led by a trio of juniors in Aiden Alegria, Issac Vera, and Evan Maples after a strong summer of training.
“They’re hungry to break the 16-minute mark this season and contend with some of the top boys in the Moore League,” said Lakewood coach Daniel Sorenson.
Jordan hasn’t reached the postseason since 1976, and head coach Sharaud Moore is looking to change that. Moore has overseen an overhaul of the Jordan running program’s, and last year had one of the league’s breakout stars in Joseph Espinosa, a Jordan junior who made the podium at Moore League Finals last year.
“We’ve got five returners this year, with Joseph Espinosa, Joe Munoz, Alan Rojas, Rogelio Rodarte, and Damien Davis,” said Moore.
Adrian Baer has done well at Cabrillo to find runners from other sports, often getting soccer players who are looking for competitive conditioning. This year Baer’s top runners figure to be Anthony Rodriguez, Salvador Hurtado, and Chris Vides.
The Saints feature returners like Christian Fernandez and Brody Rose for head coach Ericka Brooks.