Wednesday marked a significant day at Millikan High School for a number of reasons. The cross country dual meet between visiting Wilson and the host Rams was the first competitive high school sporting event in Long Beach since March 13, 2020, covering a span of more than 11 months. It was also the first sporting event to utilize the brand new field and track facility at DeHaven Stadium.
It was anything but normal, with runners wearing masks at all times except during their races. There were a limited number of family members allowed at the meet, and around 60 parents and siblings were dispersed throughout the grandstands during the event. They got to witness an impressive performance by the host Rams, who won comfortably in both races to kick off their delayed 2020-21 season.
The top five runners score for each team, with points awarded based on what place they finish in–one point is given for first place, two for second place, and so on. Thus, the lowest team score wins the meet. Millikan won the boys’ meet by a margin of 18-40 and posted a perfect score on the girls’ side with a 15-49 win, sweeping the top five finishers.
In the boys’ race, freshman Jason Parra started fast and continued to grow his lead throughout, pulling away from the field for a win in his first varsity competition. He finished with a time of 15:24, placing ahead of teammates Scott Kirchhoff (15:37) in second and Sebastian DeBiase (16:09) in third.
”It feels pretty good. I think I could’ve run a little faster but overall it was a good race,” said Parra after the win. “My goals were pretty high. My first goal was to win but my most important goal was to go under 15 minutes. I couldn’t achieve that today, but I think maybe next race I’ll do it.”
Millikan boys’ head coach Pedro Ramirez was not surprised by the ninth grader’s performance, even though he’d never competed for the Rams prior to Wednesday.
“Jason is a good runner who works really hard,” Ramirez said. “He was a youth runner, so he came in with experience. He’s looking good and like one of the top runners in the league. I know Poly has some good runners too, but he’s up there … I’m not at all surprised, and he actually ran faster in our time trial than he did today.”
Senior Jack Wade was the top finisher for Wilson, placing fourth in a time of 16:20. The Bruins were running in a new setting, on another school’s campus, with an inordinate number of twists and turns on the course. He welcomed the challenge, but said it was certainly a unique challenge.
“It was definitely a cool experience to try something new and finish on a track like this,” Wade said. “Having to run on a campus was definitely challenging having all the corners and turns … But just being with my team was amazing and running with them again was amazing. That’s really the only word I can use–amazing.”
In the girls race, the defending champion Rams made an impressive statement to begin their title defense. Senior Isabella Stockalper won the girls’ race in a time of 19:24, and had a string of five teammates behind her to give Millikan the top six finishers in the race. Senior Hazel McIntosh was the runner-up in a time of 20:10, followed by Rebecca Perez (3rd, 20:22), Ana Blocker (4th, 20:34), Grace Vazquez (5th, 20:37), and Erin Aguirre (6th, 20:38.2).
“We’ve been training since August, and we were just ready to race and just see where we’re at at this point,” said Millikan head girls’ coach Angela Ibarra. “It went really smooth and everybody showed up race ready and that’s exciting.”
It was no surprise to see Stockalper win the race, but she’s also excited about the outlook for the season after such a strong showing for the entire team.
“We’re definitely feeling great, very hopeful,” Stockalper said. “Poly is still a really big competitor and we definitely have to try our hardest for that race, but this is a great start and we’re confident that we have a great chance at winning again.”
A young Wilson team was led by freshman Sophia Alvarado, who paced the Bruins with a time of 20:38.6 in seventh place. Alvarado said she got out a little fast in her first race, attempting to keep up with the leaders early on. Nevertheless, she was happy to finally be able to compete even though the results weren’t exactly what she’d hoped for.
“It was definitely exciting to start the season. I’m so grateful that we could race, because a lot of sports can’t compete right now,” Alvarado said. “Even though we didn’t win, I’m still glad that we got to compete against Millikan.”
Wilson will look to regroup and prepare for another tough challenge next Wednesday when they host Poly for a dual meet. Meanwhile, Millikan will remain at home and host the triumvirate squad of Lakewood, Jordan and Compton.