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Cross Country Long Beach Poly

Long Beach Poly Alums Eric Riehl, Mandy Wainfan Hired as Cross Country Head Coaches

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial.     

Long Beach Poly’s cross country program will have new leadership for the 2023-24 school year, with a couple of familiar faces taking over the program this season.

Jackrabbit alums Eric Riehl and Mandy Wainfan have been named head coaches of the boys’ and girls’ program, respectively, and will both provide continuity for the program after serving as assistant coaches the past few years.

“It feels full circle, it’s pretty cool,” said Wainfan, who graduated from Poly in 2016 and returned as an assistant in 2020 after running at UC Davis. “I’ve always wanted to come back. When I left for undergrad, I knew I wanted to come back and help out in any way I could. Being able to be the head of the girls’ program is a dream for me and I’m pretty stoked that I get to do it as soon as I do.”

Riehl and Wainfan will help maintain the traditions of the program, which were passed down to them by their former coaches. Riehl ran for longtime head coach Mike Fillipow in the Class of 2011, while Wainfan learned under head coach Nate Bershtel.

“I think that it’s a testament to the coaches that we had when we ran,” said Riehl, who returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach in 2018. “They made a program that had such an impact on us, you wanted to come back and be a part of it and help keep that going. And it’s pretty cool, it feels special to be able to do that.”

After former head coach Cameron Ford got an assistant coaching position at Long Beach State, Poly Girls’ Athletic Director and head track & field coach, Crystal Irving, made the decision to promote Riehl and Wainfan. The Poly track program requires all its coaches to be USATF certified, with an eye toward preparing students for the next level, and Irving said that Riehl and Wainfan were eager to take on that responsibility as head of the cross country programs.

“USA Track isn’t required at the high school level, but Poly doesn’t choose to be on the same level as other high schools; we want our kids to be ready for college,” Irving said. “Right away, Coach Mandy and Coach Eric, along with our other coaches, were ready to expand their knowledge and get better. I’m very excited that they took the lead for what we needed at the time and we were able to make them the head coaches.” 


Riehl and Wainfan also shouted out fellow Poly alums Kevin Word and John Napalan, who have remained engaged with the program as assistant coaches following their running days. With that cohesion in the coaching ranks, Riehl and Wainfan have been able to run the program collaboratively, which has made their transition much smoother.

“It makes a big difference, and it makes it feel a lot more manageable,” Riehl said. “It helps a lot to be able to talk about things and bounce ideas off each other.”

The training sessions are also combined for both the boys’ and girls’ teams, allowing the program to run more seamlessly for both head coaches.

“With the coaching staff that makes things worlds easier, because we're not having to do all of the nitty gritty two times over,” Wainfan explained. “We can just share it between each other and whatever our strength is we do that, and whatever our weakness is the other person does it.”

They’ll both inherit programs with championship pedigree. The boys’ program has won 16 consecutive Moore League titles dating back to 2007, while the Poly girls have won the last two Moore League team titles and 16 of the last 19 overall.

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.