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The weather cooperated at this year’s Signal Hill meet, but the course itself left something to be desired from the participants. Times were down and slips and slides were up on Tuesday, but the varsity results shook out without too many surprises.
Millikan’s Jason Parra won the boys’ varsity race by 33 seconds, while Long Beach Poly’s Avery Peck got back into winning form on her home course, winning the girls’ race by the same margin.
The Millikan Rams won the team competition for the second meet in a row, aided by Parra’s winning time of 16:31. The Rams had six of the Top 11 finishers, and edged out Wilson for the top spot by a score of 27-31.
Millikan is in the middle of a crowded stretch of competition, coming off a race in Clovis last Saturday while preparing for a trip to New York this weekend. Also running without junior Jack Brown, the Rams weren’t at full strength, but still had enough firepower to secure the win. Head coach Pedro Ramirez said the footing was a concern on the course, especially since the Rams had a few lower-level runners fall during their race.
“We weren’t going at 100 percent because of that. The last thing we wanted was rolled ankles or twisted ankles,” Ramirez said of his team’s approach. “So I’m just happy that everyone came out of there healthy.”
Ramirez said that health is the main key for Millikan as they pursue their first league title since 1992. Parra is a key piece of the puzzle, certainly, and his win on Tuesday was a workmanlike performance from the veteran runner.
“I’m pretty pleased, I was a little sore going into it, but I felt pretty good,” Parra said after the race. “I felt like I could have gone a lot faster if I wanted to, but I wasn’t really in race mode, I was just kind of in tempo mode. I felt good, so it’s a nice spot to be in, and I know the other guys felt pretty good too. So we’re all in a pretty happy spot.”
Lakewood junior Gabriel Rojas stayed close with Parra for a majority of the race, finishing runner-up for the Lancers with a strong time of 17:04.
He was followed by a trio of Wilson Bruins–Kyle Holland, Cash Obando and Tommy Pincherli–finishing in spots 3-5.
Poly’s Luke Deeble took ninth as the top finisher for the Jackrabbits, breaking up a string of five Millikan Rams. Eric Plasencia took sixth, followed by teammates Aiden Ransom and Maximiliano Ramirez in seventh and eighth. It was then Emmett Wechsler and Michael Brief rounding out the first 11 finishers.
J’Moises Vazquez finished 17th as the top runner for Jordan, Angel Cervantes led the way for Cabrillo in 28th and Kelvin Lazaro was Compton’s top finisher in 29th.
Redemption was the theme of the girls’ race as Poly’s Avery Peck bounced back from her first loss in Moore League competition two weeks ago, winning on a familiar course with a time of 19:16.
She helped lead four Jackrabbits finishing in the Top 5, as Evelyn Hernandez Lujan, Estefany Garcia Hernandez, and Alexa Hernandez Lujan finished 3-5 for Poly.
They trailed Millikan sophomore Nadia Mejia, who followed up her record-setting time at El Dorado with another solid showing, though she was unable to keep pace with Peck who took the lead for good around the midway point of the race.
“I think this is one of our best performances of the season so far,” said Poly head coach Mandy Wainfan of her team’s victory. “We’ve worked the hill almost weekly since the summer, and that showed really well today. We took this whole group up to Mammoth too, so we’ve literally told them to go run up mountains, and they do it. They’re really strong in the hills and they had the right mindset for it today, and it showed.”
Wainfan added that she was pleased with Peck’s performance from the mental side, as she focused on running her race with her gamplan, without worrying about anyone else on the course.
“I get really anxious before races, and when I don’t have something to focus on, my mind goes all sorts of places,” admitted Peck. “And that’s when I’ve kind of mentally shut down, kind of like what happened at El Dorado.”
The plan was for Peck to conserve her energy early on in the race, then gradually pull away from Mejia with each successive loop around the hill, which is precisely how the race played out.
“I was worried I went a little too early, I worry about that sometimes,” Peck explained as she took a larger lead on the field. “But the third loop was supposed to be all out. It’s kind of a progressive race plan, and I just really pushed it that third loop. And I’m glad I did, I’m really happy with the outcome.”
Wilson’s Natalie Maahs took sixth place, followed by Maia Lopez from Lakewood.
Poly’s Brynn Jolly was the fifth scorer for the Jackrabbits finishing eighth, followed by Emily Gonzalez and Jocelyn Jimenez from Millikan to round out the top ten.
Ashley Huerta-Tungui was Cabrillo’s top finisher in 27th.
League finals are next on the schedule, as all of these runners will meet again at Heartwell Park on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
CLICK HERE for full results of Tuesday’s action, provided via MileSplit.