The562’s cross country and track & field coverage is sponsored by an anonymous donation, in appreciation of Coach Ron Allice.
There’s an argument to be made that Millikan’s Jason Parra is the best distance runner Long Beach has ever produced.
That was true even before this year’s CIF State Cross Country Championships. But after Saturday’s results, it may be case closed for Parraman.
At Woodward Park in Fresno, the superstar senior made more history for his school–and his city–winning the Boys’ Division 1 State Championship in a time of 14:56.8, becoming just the second state champion ever from Long Beach.
“I was pretty happy, I’ll be honest,” said Parra, on how it felt to cross the finish line first. “I was kind of thinking, ‘Finally.’ It’s eluded me for two years now. I’ve had a couple of cracks at it and I haven’t been able to get it. But now, I finally have one under my belt so it feels pretty good.”
The third time was indeed a charm for Parra at the CIF State meet. He made his first appearance as a sophomore in 2021, finishing 15th with a time of 15:31. Last year, he dropped 17 seconds off that time for a 6th place finish. This year saw an 18 second improvement in his time, and he became the first Long Beach runner ever to go sub-15 at State.
Parra said that his prior experience on this course helped him keep his composure when things didn’t exactly go as planned during Saturday’s race.
“My sophomore year I got boxed in the exact same way I got boxed in today, and I made a move (to get out) in the exact same spot where I did today,” Parra explained. “This year, knowing where a spot was going to be available for me to get out, it was calming and it didn’t give me a sense of panic right away. Because I knew I was gonna be able to get out and get to the front.”
The front is where Parra stayed for the majority of the race, with Mira Costa’s Owen Franck right on his hip going into the last mile. Parra said wanted to see what Franck had in the tank, and he wasn’t concerned when he lost the lead for a few seconds going into the final 500 meters of the race.
“I felt comfortable, and I remember when (Franck) passed me I still had a really good gear left to go,” explained Parra. “And I saw a moment of weakness from him and I just decided, ‘I gotta go now.’ And I just took off.”
Behind Parra, Brett Ephraim from San Clemente had already gone into his final kick and was gaining ground on the leaders. But with Parra making his push to regain the lead, he was able to hold off the chase pack and surge through the finish line with nearly a two second cushion on Ephraim in second.
“If I would have waited any longer, he might have gone up to my shoulder and tried to get me,” said Parra of holding off Ephraim’s charge. “So it was pretty good timing.”
Parrs is the second runner from Long Beach to win a state title in cross country, joining Poly’s Chad Durhan who won state in 1997.
The overall resume for Parra is nothing short of impressive. He’s a four-time Moore League individual champion, a CIF Southern Section, and now CIF State champion. Parra also has the fastest three-mile time ever for a Long Beach athlete: the 13:56 he threw down as a junior at Woodbridge, the first of two sub-14 times in his high school career.
Oh by the way, he’s also the two-time defending CIF champion in the boys’ 3200, and he’ll have the chance for a third straight gold during track season in the spring.
That’s quite a legacy to leave behind as he moves on to Notre Dame in the fall, and Parra said he’s proud to represent Long Beach and to advance the sport of cross country.
“I think it’s great. I think it develops on what Long Beach is trying to do, I mean, we’re trying to be good at everything,” Parra said. “For me personally, I’ve been working so hard to get my name in there, but for the community, we’ve managed to represent in almost every sport. So I think it just goes to show that we’re one of the best sports towns in the world.”
CIF State Boys’ Cross Country – All-Time Top 10 Finishers from Long Beach (Since 1987)
1991 – T.J. Reyes, Lakewood (8th, 15:40)
1997 – Chad Durham, LB Poly (1st, 15:24)
1999 – Oswaldo Pina, Lakewood (9th, 15:42)
2000 – Oswaldo Pina, LB Poly (9th, 15:40)
2012 – Miguel Bautista, LB Poly (8th, 15:26)
2018 – William Frankenfeld, LB Poly (3rd, 15:09)
2022 – Cameron Rhone, LB Poly (5th, 15:13)
Jason Parra, Millikan (6th, 15:14)
2023 – Jason Parra, Millikan (1st, 14:56)