For the first time since 2003, the Wilson girls’ cross country team will be Moore League champions. The Bruins put up their second dominant performance in as many league meets at Signal Hill on Wednesday evening, clinching at least a share of the Moore League title. The Bruins were led once again by Aliya Mesihovich, as the junior crossed the finish line first in 20:03, 22 seconds faster than Millikan’s Hazel McIntosh, her closest competitor.
The Bruins have been pushing hard to get back to this level, but longtime coach Ed Hauck said he thought the team’s lack of a big celebration after was indicative of what makes this squad different from the ones he coached in the past.
“We’ll talk about it, but they’re more concerned about running well at Riverside, about having the team qualify for CIF Finals,” he said. “In the past we’ve been close and we’ve done the big emotional motivation.”
Last year, for example, Wilson won the El Dorado meet but Poly came back to win at Signal Hill and at league finals to claim their 14th consecutive league title. Hauck could tell that wouldn’t happen this year because his team wasn’t spending their time trying to motivate each other–they didn’t have to.
“They didn’t talk about it–they just went and did the workouts, very intense, very focused on hitting their times,” he said.
The Moore League’s format is that each of the first two league meets are weighted at 25% with league finals (Oct. 31 at Heartwell) weighted 50% and holding the postseason tiebreaker. That means if another team were to win the final meet of the season, they’d share the crown with Wilson and also get the league’s first seed into the CIF-SS prelims. That stage of the season is what the Bruins have been working to this year.
“In the past we’ve had individuals qualify for the CIF finals,” said Hauck. “This year it’s, how about bring some teammates? That’s been their big push this year.”
Mesihovich said she felt good even after the strenuous course, but wasn’t running as fast as she wanted to.
“I have goals for myself that I haven’t met yet, but it feels great to win as a team, we deserve it,” she said.
After Mesihovich, the other top five Bruins were Ryann Mayo (3rd, 20:37), Hanna Burlin (5th, 21:08), Ruby Prosser (10th, 21:44), and Jocelyn Diaz (13th, 21:57).
McIntosh led a strong Millikan showing with three runners in the top nine. Poly was Wilson’s closest competition but fell 32-41, the same margin that separated the two teams at El Dorado. The Jackrabbits were led by Laura Yontz (4th, 20:52) and freshman Bella Ungar (7th, 21:24).
The top finishers from the other schools were Nina Draffen (Lakewood, 6th), Destini Jackson (Cabrillo, 27th), and Shariyah Webb (Jordan, 35th).
There wasn’t much drama in the boys’ race, just really good racing from one of California’s best teams. The Poly boys’ squad is ranked No. 4 in the state in Division 1 and No. 4 in the CIF-SS Division 1 rankings as well. They subbed out a few regular varsity runners to keep them rested for the postseason push and still cruised to an easy win led by reigning league champion Will Frankenfeld, who turned in a 16:27.
He was followed by teammates Ronan McMahon-Staggs and Daniel Bautista, with the Jackrabbits’ seven runners also finishing in the top 12 (Zane Witter was 5th, Aldo Khiev was 8th, and Marcelo Murrilo and Clark Boyce were 11th and 12th).
Poly will be running at Dos Pueblos this Friday, the second time they’ve had a nonleague meet the same week as a league meet.
“It’s strategic,” said Poly coach Mike Fillipow. “It’s giving us some really nice training blocks, it’s worked out well for us.”
Fillipow’s goal has been to a rest a few varsity runners at each league meet in the hopes of having some fresh legs at the end of the year.
“We’re really trying to push to the postseason,” he said. “We want to keep them hungry and rested.”
Frankenfeld said he was satisfied with his performance, and didn’t sound like he’d miss racing at Signal Hill.
“You’re always a little concerned, I was remembering a few times training here where you step wrong and twist an ankle,” he said. “I was working the uphills more this year.”
Poly’s next closest competition was Millikan, which had five runners in the top 18, led by Scott Kirchhoff’s sixth-place finish in 17:15.
The top runners from the other schools were Aiden Alegria (Lakewood, 4th, 17:03), Joseph Espinosa (Jordan, 7th), Caden Elsesser (Wilson, 10th), and Kevin Guzman (Compton, 29th).
Moore League Finals will be at Heartwell Park on Halloween.
FULL BOYS’ VARSITY RESULTS: 018 ML#2 – Boys V
FULL GIRLS’ VARSITY RESULTS: 018 ML#2 – Girls V