The Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits ruled the races for the Moore League cross country opener at El Dorado Park on Tuesday. The Poly boys edged Wilson by one point in the head-to-head scoring, and the Poly girls took the top spot of three top-seven finishes.
Senior Ronan McMahon-Staggs won the boys’ race for Poly with a time of 15:06 on the 3-mile concrete course, but it was the finish of Nicholas Mejia in 12th that gave the Jackrabbits a one-point win over Wilson. Mejia beat three other races from Wilson and Millikan by one second. Millikan finished third overall.
“We all talk as a team about how we’re not just running for ourselves but for the team and we need to always keep our head up and keep going,” Mejia said. “I was kind of 50/50 when I came around (the second lap) and I didn’t know if I could push hard enough. But I found a pace that was faster than the rest. Once I hit (the backstretch) I knew I could out-kick them because that’s just me.”
The Poly boys came into the event a bit worn out following a long week of competition.
“We had very heavy legs after Woodbridge a week ago and Sacramento (on Saturday) so we just wanted to get out of this with a win,” Poly coach Mike Fillipow said. “They were giving what they had to try and win. That was the goal. We knew Wilson was going to come out crazy fast, so the goal was to just beat them head-to-head because they’re good this year. They pushed us, so it was fun.”
Wilson’s Zami Moscoso (15:14) and Caden Elsesser (15:14.01) finished the closest behind McMahon-Staggs. Poly’s Zane Witter was fourth, Lakewood’s Aiden Algeria was fifth and Wilson Nico Colchico was sixth in front of two more Jackrabbits.
“It wasn’t what we wanted to do, winning by just one point, but we did what we had to do,” McMahon-Staggs said. “Coach said to win with the least energy as possible, so we did that by the thinnest margins.”
“We gave them a run for their money so there’s some diversity in the league now,” Wilson coach C.J. Brewer said. “They’re all racing now. Before it’s been a clear divide on who was best. Now it’s a big question mark, and that will be fun to keep them going through training the next five weeks in preparation for Signal Hill and Moore League finals.”
In the second Varsity race of the day, freshman Camille Lindsay made a phenomenal league debut with a personal-record 17:49 that helped the Poly girls get a close win.
“ElDo is a pretty fast course so I was hoping to PR but you’re never quite sure,” Lindsay said. “I was questioning it the whole way.”
A third-place finish from Bella Ungar (19:01) and a seventh-place finish from Ailene Rios (19:23) were key to the Poly victory.
“The girls had their goals in mind and they just went for them,” Poly coach Gabby Bournes said. “It turned out just how we thought it would. We just have to keep working. (The Moore League) is going to be close, it’s just going to come down to whoever comes out and races their best on that day.”
Millikan had a surprisingly good day as junior Isabella Stockalper (18:35) led the way with a second place finish. According to the scorers table, if the meet was scored in a championship format the Rams would have finished first overall. However, Poly and Wilson were better in the head-to-head scoring.
“We’re super excited and very encouraged (with this result) and it built the girls’ confidence that (Bella) was able to compete with the other girls in the league,” Millikan coach Angela Ibarra said. “Saturday practices count a lot and that’s where (Stockalper) is at… She shows up when it matters on days no one is there to see.”
Moore League competition continues on Oct. 15 at Signal Hill.