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Wednesday’s cross country meet at El Dorado was the first conventional Moore League meet for Millikan sophomore Jason Parra. The young phenom made himself known with an impressive freshman campaign amidst unusual circumstances last school year, running on high school campuses instead of the usual locations for league meets across Long Beach’s parks.
Parra certainly did not disappoint, running a blistering time of 14:40.25 to break the previous course record of 14:50 at El Dorado, set by former Poly runner Chris Penn back in 2010. Even with the record-breaking performance, the motivated sophomore still wasn’t quite satisfied with his season-opening performance.
“I feel like I could have done better,” Parra said after his win, “I felt like there was a lot of lactic acid built up inside of me at this performance, so I was trying to go for like 14:20, but I still feel good. I’m just trying to run for time. I know that Signal Hill is coming up, so I’m gonna try to go in the 15’s there and hopefully do some damage there too.”
Parra’s run stole the thunder from a terrific performance by runner-up Nico Colchico from Wilson. The senior went under 15 minutes with a time of 14:59.20, but found himself running behind Parra for the majority of the three-mile course.
Long Beach Poly took the team win, however, placing five runners inside the top eight finishers. Senior Robert Guerrero led the way for the Jackrabbits with a time of 15:08.03, followed by teammates Cameron Rhone (4th, 15:28.98) and Luke Larson (5th, 15:36.79).
“Strength in numbers and pack running, we’ve always looked at that,” said Poly head coach Cameron Ford, who led the Jackrabbits to a 14th consecutive Moore League title last season. “I think we’re still very, very inexperienced because today technically was our season opener for varsity, so all of them running in uniform today was a big difference, and I think they understood that and I think they’re all still really hungry. Their feet are wet now and it’s gonna be interesting how it progresses forward.”
As a senior, Guerrero provided experience for the Poly lineup and led the way for Poly in third. He knew that while Parra would get out and set a super fast pace, the Jackrabbits could stay together and win as a team if they stuck to the game plan.
“You have to think, you cannot just panic. Panicking messes your whole mindset,” Guerrero explained. “With our culture, I think we’re gonna have a stronger season this year, even more than last year.”
Millikan’s Eric Plascencia finished sixth for the Rams to help them to a second-place finish in the team scoring. He broke up a quintet of Jackrabbits with Poly’s Brandon Perry behind him in seventh and Mason Lindsay checking in eighth. Millikan’s Dylan Ball and Wilson’s Kyle Holland rounded out the top ten. Lakewood’s top finisher was Sean Goltra in 20th while Cabrillo’s Tony Veronica placed 24th.
The teams will return to action in just under two weeks at the Signal Hill meet on Tuesday, Oct. 12, hosted at Discovery Wells Park.