Olivia Boyce (2566) and Sydney Carlson (2570) are two returners for Poly hoping to lead the Jackrabbits to another league title; photo by Kirby Lee. The first Moore League cross country meet is this afternoon at El Dorado Park, with varsity races beginning at 5 p.m.
The Long Beach Poly girls’ cross country team has won the last 14 Moore League championships, the longest streak in league history. The last 11 years have seen unprecedented success under head coach Nate Bershtel, whose runners broke every league course individual and team record in that span and went to the CIF State meet for the first time ever.
Bershtel stepped down and this year Poly will look to continue its historic success under a new coach, one of the youngest in the city.
First-year coach Ali Green is a Poly trueblood; she ran for Bershtel before graduating from Poly in 2012, and her father, Pat Green, is a longtime Poly boys’ and girls’ assistant.
“I’ve known Nate forever and I don’t think I ever imagined taking over for him,” said Green. “I thought he’d be there forever dominating the Moore League. It’s surreal because I was his athlete, and I learned so much from him.”
Green hasn’t done much to tweak training plans, operating from an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. She’s excited about the upcoming season with Sydney Carlson, Olivia Boyce, Laura Yontz, and Sarah Chao leading the way. Poly is deep as usual and has a youthful energy in the coaching staff with Green’s fellow recent alums Chris Penn and Jessica Gonzalez assisting her.
“The team looks really good, we ran 10 girls at Great Cow and their times are improved from last year,” said Green. “We’ve got a tight knit group.”
Coach Ed Hauck is a Wilson institution and has seen the Bruins program flourish anew in the last few seasons, even beating Poly at a league cluster meet last season. This year Wilson has a pair of runners in the NCAA with Kennedy Meyer (UCLA) and Sabrina Del Bello (Long Beach State), which Hauck hopes will help spark inspiration in his team.
The Bruins have some talented runners up front including Aliya Mesihovich and Ryann Mayo, along with senior Ruby Prosser. Jocelyn Diaz and Rebekah Pinedo are juniors looking strong, while Hauck expects to have a bevy of youngsters vying for the final varsity spots.
“The team, new runners as well as veterans, have worked very hard and consistently during the summer, and it will be fun to watch their continued progress as the season commences,” said Hauck.
The Rams are a young team under coach Angela Ibarra.
“Because we’re so young, they’re struggling with having an experienced leader,” said Ibarra. “We have no seniors in our top five as of now, and are top two are a freshman and a sophomore. We’re hoping to race and toe the line more confidently.”
Millikan’s top runners are Celeste Ramirez, Hazel McIntosh and Xitlali Nieves.
Lakewood coach Daniel Sorenson is excited about the Lancers’ prospects.
“We look strong this season with a lot of athletes who have varsity potential,” said Sorenson.
That includes sophomore Maya Thomas and senior Brenda Soun, the team’s leaders, as well as an up and comer in first-year runner Nina Draffen, a sophomore who won the frosh/soph Moore League title in the half-mile last year.
Jaguars coach Adrian Baer said his top runners are Destini Jackson, Jade Navarit and junior Amanda Alvarez.
Panthers coach Sharaud Moore continues his rebuild of the Jordan program and will be recruiting his team in the coming weeks.
“We’ll mostly be comprised of freshmen and sophomores who are new to the sport,” he said.
Coach Cardale Avery is recovering from an Achilles surgery but still hoping to urge the Tarbabes on this year, with seniors Michelle Galindo, Araceli Hernandez, Noel Villanueva, and Evelyn Sahagun leading the way.
Head coach Ericks Brooks likes her newcomers this year as she has a pair of promising freshmen in Leeta Squier and Tatiana Fernandez.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the handle the competition on a higher level,” said Brooks. “They’re coming in with some force, definitely ready to make a name for themselves.”