Cross country season steps off on right foot for East County harriers


While football has commanded its due to start the fall sports semester, East County teams and student-athletes in cross country, girls volleyball, girls field hockey, boys water polo, girls golf and girls tennis are also making headlines.

The high school cross country season stepped off with a pair of East County invitational meets: the Vaquero Stampede on Aug. 19 at El Capitan High School and the Wolf Pack Invitational Aug. 25 at West Hills High School.

The Vaquero Stampede had a venue switch because of construction at Lindo Lake Park.

Medals were awarded to the top 25 finishers in each division.

Runners competed across three divisions by freshman/sophomore and junior/senior gender classes.

Division winners included Eastlake sophomore Jaelyn Williams (Division 1 girls frosh/soph), Poway sophomore Cooper Castleberry (Division 1 boys frosh/soph), Poway senior Tessa Buswell (Division 1 girls junior/senior), Westview senior Adrian Welton (Division I boys junior/senior), Santana freshman Harper Diaz (Division 2 girls frosh/soph), Southwest San Diego freshman Carlos Martinez (Division 2 boys frosh/stoph), Sweetwater junior Melanie Arzola (Division 2 girls junior/senior), Sweetwater junior Matteo Garcia (Division 2 boys junior/senior), Christian freshman Elliana Patterson (Division 3 girls frosh/soph), Mission Vista freshman Keaton Hawkins (Division 3 boys frosh/soph), Holtville senior Lillian Strahm (Division 3 girls junior/senior) and Mission Vista junior Jacques Rogers (Division 3 boys junior/senior).

Williams, a returning state medalist in cross country and track and field, finished more than a minute (66 seconds, to be exact) ahead of her nearest challenger, El Capitan sophomore Ashlan Forster, with a time of 10:36 on the two-mile course.

Diaz finished a commanding 1:04 ahead of Oceanside sophomore Malia Guillen while Patterson finished 40 seconds ahead of Mission Vista sophomore Jaylynn Erickson.

Other top East County place-finishers included El Capitan sophomore Noah Noah Redman (second, boys Division 1 frosh/soph), Liberty Charter senior IvanGuzman (second, boys Division 1 junior/senior), Steele Canyon junior Micah Senn (third, boys Division 1 junior senior), El Capitan senior Austin Boinus (fourth, Division 1 boys junior/senior), Mt. Miguel junior Aneeta Matti (second, Division 2 girls junior/senior), Valhalla senior Aubrey Zerkle (third, Division 2 girls junior/senior), Mt. Miguel senior Garrett Cloyd (third, Division 2 boys junior/senior), Christian sophomore Ellie Peel (fifth, Division 3 girls frosh/soph), Christian junior Estella Steiner (fifth, Division 3 girls junior/senior) and Christian senior Braxton Pingleton (third, Division 3 boys junior/senior).

Team champions included El Capitan (Division 1 boys junior/senior), Santana (Division 2 girls frosh/soph), Christian (Division 3 girls junior/senior), Poway (Division 1 girls junior/senior and Division 1 girls frosh/soph), Sweetwater (Division 2 boys frosh/soph), Hilltop (Division 2 girls junior/senior), Mission Vista (Division 3 girls frosh/soph, Division 3 boys frosh/soph and Division 3 boys junior/senior).

•El Capitan, bolstered by three of the top 13 individuals in the 101-deep field, won the Division 1 boys junior/senior race with a nine-point margin over Poway, while Santana, buoyed by five of the top 11 finishers in the 41-deep field, picked up first place in the Division 2 girls frosh/soph race with an 18-point bulge over runner-up Hilltop.

•Christian, led by senior Danielle Stark (third among 29 finishers), out-pointed runner-up Mission Vista by 14 points to claim the Division 3 girls junior/senior title.

•Valhalla, led by Zerkle, finished second in the Division 2 girls junior/senior race while Mt. Miguel, paced by Cloyd, scored a runner-up finish in the Division 2 boys junior/senior race.

•Christian, paced by sophomore Cade Fischer (seventh among 47 finishers), placed second in the Division 3 boys frosh/soph race.

•Grossmont, led by freshman Myles Cata (11th among 104 finishers) placed fourth in the Division 1 boys frosh/soph race while Liberty Charter, led by freshman Sam Rohrer (eighth among 75 finishers), placed fourth in the Division 2 boys frosh/soph race.

The Wolf Pack Invitational featured races by grade level (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior) in two gender divisions.

Girls races measured 1.5 miles while boys races were 2.1 miles (except for the freshman race, which was 1.5 miles).

Freshman division champions included Santana’s Diaz (girls, 8:51) and Point Loma’s Jonah Turner (boys, 8:21).

Sophomore division champions included Santana’s Forster (girls, 9:07) and El Capitan’s Redman (boys, 10:35).

Junior division champions included Steele Canyon’s Lopez (girls, 9:52) and Steele Canyon’s Senn (boys, 10:13).

Senior division champions included El Capitan’s Jillian Rudolph (girls, 9:23) and Olympian’s Angel Cordero (boys, 10:07).

Diaz won by a tight two-second margin while Forster won by 14 seconds. Redman won by 29 seconds while Lopez won by 11 seconds. Senn also won by 14 seconds.

Division team champions included West Hills (junior girls), Steele Canyon (junior boys), Point Loma (freshman girls, freshman boys, sophomore girls, senior girls and senior boys) and Canyon Hills (sophomore boys).

Santana scored a second-place team finish in the girls freshman girls race while West Hills and Helix placed second and third, respectively, in the freshman boys race. Steele Canyon placed runner-up in the sophomore girls race and also in the junior girls race.

El Capitan placed second in the junior boys race and third in the senior boys race.

Other top East County finishers included Helix freshman Kate Weaver (second girls, 8:53), Helix sophomore Tyus Joseph (second boys, 11:04), Steele Canyon junior Shelby Coleman (second girls, 10:03) and El Capitan’s Boinus (second senior boys, 10:13).