It’s off to the races for Monte Vista’s Lopez as Monarch cross-country runner leads the pack

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Monte Vista High School junior Tyler Lopez has made quite an impression so far in the early stages of the 2014 cross country season, and the season is far from over.

Lopez, who qualified for last year’s elite state championship meet as a sophomore, stepped off the current campaign by capturing the top time in the boys sophomore race at the Wolf Pack Invitational Aug. 29 at West Hills High School. He timed 10 minutes, 47 seconds on the 2.1-mile course to win by a handy 11-second margin.

Monte Vista High School junior Tyler Lopez has made quite an impression so far in the early stages of the 2014 cross country season, and the season is far from over.

Lopez, who qualified for last year’s elite state championship meet as a sophomore, stepped off the current campaign by capturing the top time in the boys sophomore race at the Wolf Pack Invitational Aug. 29 at West Hills High School. He timed 10 minutes, 47 seconds on the 2.1-mile course to win by a handy 11-second margin.

Lopez next competed in the annual Mustang/Phair Co. Invitational Sept. 12 at Rohr Park. On a warm muggy day, he secured an eighth-place finish out of 92 runners entered in the large schools race. His time of 16:46.57 placed him third among Grossmont Conference runners, trailing Steele Canyon senior Josh Paradise (third, 16:28.04) and Valhalla junior Alex Hernandez (fifth, 16:29.99).

Lopez finished as the top Grossmont Valley League runner in the race.

The Monarch harrier next competed at the Sundevil/Movin’ Shoes Invitational Sept. 20 at Morley Field and claimed another first-place finish by timing 16:08 on the 2.95-mile course to win the Division II race for junior boys.

Lopez finished 11 seconds ahead of Brett Willman of Ironwood Ridge (Tucson, Ariz.) to claim top finishing honors.

The Monte Vista standout captured his third first-place finish in four invitational outings by topping the 213-deep boys varsity division at last Friday’s 41st annual South Bay Invitational at Rohr Park in Chula Vista.

Lopez finished with a personal record 16:10 time on the course to best San Diego senior David Flores by three seconds at the finish line and Grossmont senior Darrian Dunning, who finished third, by four seconds.

Lopez was the top Grossmont Conference place-finisher and again top GVL runner in the race.

“I just tried to stay with the front pack and at the end give it a little kick because I felt confident in what I could do at the end of the race,” explained Lopez, who notched a fifth-place individual finish at last year’s Division III section finals to qualify as an individual for the state meet. “I felt good, better than usual. This was one of my better races I’ve done so far.”

Besides Monte Vista, Grossmont, West Hills, El Capitan, El Cajon Valley, Granite Hills, Santana and Christian participated in this year’s South Bay Invitational.

El Capitan finished fifth among teams in the boys’ varsity race while Grossmont was seventh and West Hills was ninth.

West Hills sophomore Christian Medina recorded a ninth-place finish in 16:25 in the boys varsity race while Tyler Ruff, a junior, and Chandlor Huss, a sophomore, were El Capitan’s top runners in the race with identical 16:57 times to place 17th and 18th, respectively.

In the girls varsity race, El Capitan edged West Hills by one point to secure a fifth-place team finish while Grossmont junior Courtney Clifford engineered a fourth-place individual finish to top Grossmont Conference runners in the 175-deep field.

Clifford crossed the finish line in the 2.5-mile race in 15:4 —a step behind San Pasqual senior Megan Perko (also 15:47) and just five seconds behind Otay Ranch senior Darla Osuna, who posted a second-place finish in 15:42.

San Pasqual senior Kelli Stetson ran away with the race, finishing 30 second ahead of her nearest challenger with a top time of 15:12.

Grossmont freshman Lisset Dominguez won the 2.5-mile girls junior varsity race in 17:45 in leading the Lady Foothillers to a third-place team finish.

Dominguez edged Bonita Vista junior Yazelyn Vargas by three seconds at the finish line to claim the top spot in the large 308-deep field.

Grossmont placed fifth as a team in the boys’ frosh/soph race and seventh in the boys JV race.

Grossmont junior Mario Marceleno-Chairez turned in a runner-up individual finish in the boys JV race in 18:05—a time he shared with San Pasqual junior Dylan Dreckman, who was awarded first place at the finish line.

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