The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
The562’s coverage of cross country and track and field is sponsored by Bryson Financial.
In each of the past two seasons, the spoils have been shared in Moore League boys’ cross country. While Long Beach Poly has successfully run its league title streak up to 15 years and counting, Millikan’s Jason Parra has claimed consecutive individual titles as the city’s fastest three-miler.
As we enter the 2022 season, the same questions remain: will anyone be able to challenge Parra for the top spot and is there a team that can end the Jackrabbits’ impressive title streak?
Regarding the latter, there’s a lot of confidence at Long Beach Poly thanks to a senior-heavy lineup with a solid top four runners leading the way. Head coach Cameron Ford has been particularly impressed with the leadership and improvement from senior Cameron Rhone, who has always had the talent to be Poly’s clear-cut top runner. He’s coming off a strong track season and has been especially dedicated during offseason workouts.
“In my opinion, of all the boys he’s had the best summer,” Ford said of Rhone, who was runner-up to Parra at last year’s league finals. “Cam, by far, is the most committed out of everybody. Sometimes you see that with a middle-of-the-pack JV kinda guy who loves cross country, but Cam’s been in it more than anybody else, and it shows.”
Rhone certainly set the tone during Poly’s preseason “Bun Run” with an impressive time of 15:11 at Los Cerritos. That mark beat the field by nearly a full minute and was second only to Miguel Bautista for the course record within the program.
He’ll have the reliable support of seniors Luke Larson and Mason Lindsay, who finished fourth and sixth at last season’s league finals, respectively.
Right with that group is an incoming runner with a ton of potential for his senior year. Lamarr Kirk, Jr. is a transfer from South Torrance who has quickly fit into the Jackrabbit program and should be a top contributor this season. Kirk, Jr. is the son of former Jackrabbit track star Angelita Green, who was an All-American 800m runner at Poly in the late ‘90s before competing at Washington State.
Other newcomers to varsity include Noah Addison, Carter Mather and Konrad Schreiber.
“I think our strength is that top four. That top four is a very, very experienced group,” said Ford. “We’re excited for them and our new varsity runners are definitely going to contribute and allow us to rotate some of the boys. We’re excited about both teams and their chances to qualify for State. That would be magical if we can get both of them.”
It’s been since 2014 that the Jackrabbits were able to send both squads to the CIF State meet, but with the girls’ ranked No. 3 in Division I and the boys’ ranked No. 7 in the CIF-SS preseason poll, this could be the year they make it happen.
Those Jackrabbits will look to keep pace with Parra, who again will lead the Millikan Rams in 2022. He’s an experienced runner on a young squad with just one senior in the lineup, but fourth-year head coach Pedro Ramirez believes this could be his strongest group yet.
Parra will be looking to make his second consecutive appearance at the CIF State meet, where he placed 15th in 2021 and finished as the fastest sophomore in California. But Ramirez is hopeful that his teammates will be joining him in Fresno this fall.
“This year our goal is to still be competing on November 26,” Ramirez said. “We are very excited and frankly anxious to see what this team can do.”
In addition to Parra, look for Jacob Fujimoto, Eric Plascencia (fifth place at last year’s league meet), Dyno Wilson, and Jack Brown to be the top runners for the Rams. Millikan was tied for 10th in the preseason rankings for Division 1, meaning it should be an exciting showdown between the Jackrabbits and Rams all season long.
Wilson will need to replace its top runner from a season ago as Nico Colichico is off to run at Indiana University. The Bruins’ roster will be comprised mostly of upperclassmen and several multi-sport athletes.
“We don’t view Nico leaving as a loss, it’s more of a motivator,” said Wilson head coach CJ Brewer. “He came from our program, with the same training techniques, and if they want to be good like he was, they just have to execute like he did. When guys leave. they leave a legacy, and his legacy is motivating that next wave … We’ve got some guys with varsity experience and some guys that don’t, but their goal is to chip down their times week after week.”
Junior Kyle Holland has the fastest PR of the bunch and is looking to go sub-15:20 this season. He’ll be pushed for the top spot by seniors Gus Hollister and Eli Minkoff, the team captain who is coming off a productive track season in the 3200. The Bruins will also get contributions from junior Anthony Ruiz, senior Ryan Carranza, who is also a league champion pole vaulter, and sophomore Cash Obando.
Over at Lakewood, head coach Daniel Sorenson has a pretty young group that’s been making some great strides over the summer. The Lancers are sophomore-heavy, led by 10th grader Gabriel Rojas, who was a top runner on frosh-soph a season ago.
He’s joined in the lineup by fellow sophomores Jacob Eam, Edan Cangro, and Mikkelson Reyes. The Lancers also expect senior Jayson Pataray-Ching and freshman Dylan Richardson to be in the mix as well.
The Jordan boys’ track team is coming off a CIF title last season under head coach Sharaud Moore, and he’s looking to build a cross country team with a young and inexperienced roster this year. Moises Vasquez, William Valdez, and brothers Angel Madrigal and Anthony Madrigal III should be the top runners for the Panthers.
At St. Anthony, new head coach Alejandro Salinas has a young group, but hopes his few experienced runners can help lead the way this fall. The top runners for the Saints look to be senior John Shepphard, junior Quinn Donoghue, and sophomore Tyler Lopez and David Casillas.
The Moore League schools will face off for the first time at El Dorado on Sept. 28 and league finals will be back at Heartwell on Nov. 2.