After 11 months of waiting for competitive high school sports to return, this might be the most highly-anticipated cross country season ever. The traditional fall sport has been bumped into the spring, but players and coaches alike are thrilled for the opportunity to compete again, albeit under very different circumstances.
Rather than the traditional cluster meets with every league team competing simultaneously, the 2020-21 cross country season will consist of dual meets with two schools going head-to-head.
Looking back at the 2019 girls’ cross country season in Long Beach, the Millikan girls won their first Moore League crown since 1993, while Poly’s Camille Lindsay became the first freshman to win an individual league title in cross country since 2006. It’s been a long wait for Millikan to attempt to defend its crown and for Lindsay to pursue a second individual title, but as of Wednesday afternoon, the wait is finally over.
The Rams have reasons to be optimistic about their title defense this season. Of the top eight runners for the Rams last season, seven were underclassmen. Senior Isabella Stockalper was the runner-up at the 2019 Moore League finals, posting a time of 18:39, and should be one of the top runners in the league. She’ll be joined by junior Grace Vazquez and senior Hazel McIntosh leading the Rams’ lineup.
“With the season being up in the air for the majority of the year, it was very hard to stay motivated and keep the kids focused for what seemed like forever,” admitted Millikan head coach Angela Ibarra. “But now that we have a season, our coaching staff as well as the girls are very excited to finally see our hard work pay off.”
Defending Moore League individual champion Camille Lindsay will be back for her sophomore season with the Jackrabbits, and remains the fastest runner in the city by a healthy margin. She posted a PR of 17:43 to win the title in 2019, winning by almost a full minute over the field. The challenge for Poly will be to improve their depth behind Lindsay and hold off the rest of the league.
The squad will be young under head coach Gabrielle Bournes, with just one senior in the team’s top six runners to go with a freshman and four sophomores. Evelyn Hernandez Lujan is expected to contribute right away for the Jackrabbits as a ninth grader, with Ailene Rios serving as the only upperclassman in the lineup. After Lindsay, there’s a talented trio of Alexa Bryson, Danika Hunter, and Maile Quinn in the sophomore class.
“This will be a unique season all the way around from training, to our schedule with no invitationals, CIF, or State,” Bournes said. “We are just grateful that our team will be able to race again. My hope is that we can create a positive supportive environment for all teams, and come together as a league to show everyone that it is possible to restore a sense of normalcy for our athletes while being safe.”
The Bruins will be a young and inexperienced squad around senior captain Maddy Diaz. The rest of Coach Ed Hauck’s lineup will consist of underclassmen with four ninth graders in the mix. Freshman Natalie Seymour is a talented soccer player who has also had success as a distance runner posting impressive times in practice. She could be among the fastest runners in the league as a ninth grader. The rest of the top runners Bruins are sophomore Amber Shanks and the freshman trio of Sophia Alvarado, Berlin Gutenkauf, and Natalie Maahs.
Coach Daniel Sorenson expects junior Delilah Chavez and seniors Nina Draffen, Calinda Perez and Emmalie Miner to lead the way for the Lancers.
“We are extremely excited to have a season, all our athletes have been counting down the days since March 2020,” Sorenson said. “My hope is that we can find out what protocol works for our sport so that we can implement them into other sports. These kids deserve to have the opportunity to compete as well and this is one step closer to that.”
The Jags will have its top runner back in Ashley Williams, along with other key returners Fatima Guzman, Victoria Vargas, and Angie Calderilla.
The 2020-21 season gets underway on Wednesday afternoon with Cabrillo visiting Poly and Wilson heading to Millikan for on-campus dual meets.