Monarch hammer Lopez crowned king of the course once again

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Monte Vista High School senior Tyler Lopez has firmly entrenched himself at the head of the pack to start the 2015 high school cross-country season. Lopez won his third consecutive invitational title on Friday, Sept. 25, by recording a comfortable 12-second victory at the 42nd annual South Bay Invitational at Rohr Park in Chula Vista.

Monte Vista High School senior Tyler Lopez has firmly entrenched himself at the head of the pack to start the 2015 high school cross-country season. Lopez won his third consecutive invitational title on Friday, Sept. 25, by recording a comfortable 12-second victory at the 42nd annual South Bay Invitational at Rohr Park in Chula Vista.

Lopez opened the season by winning the boys varsity Silver Division race at the 21st annual Mustang/Phair Co. Invitational, also at Rohr Park, and followed that by capturing first-place honors at the prestigious Mt. Carmel Invitational at San Diego’s Morley Field, site of the annual San Diego Section championship meet, on Sept. 19.

Lopez finished 14 seconds ahead of Hoover senior Awal Hussen to claim top finishing honors at the Mustang Invitational but was tested in winning the ensuing Mt. Carmel Invitational after nipping Saguaro senior Tyler Beauchamp, an Arizona state qualifier in 2014, by eight-tenths of a second.

Braced by those two wins, Lopez flew to a time of 16:00 on the 5K Rohr Park course to record his latest invitational championship.

The Monarch harrier finished well ahead of two San Pasqual runners—12 seconds ahead of senior Jake Thompson, who finished second in 16:12, and 13 seconds ahead of junior Alex Egan, who finished third in 16:13.

Santana senior Kibrom Elias finished fourth in 16:14, followed by West Hills junior Christian Medina (10th, 16:35), El Capitan senior Tyler Ruff (12th, 16:46), Granite Hills sophomore Brady DeHavin (18th, 17:02) and Grossmont junior Gordon Walsh (21st, 17:12) – all of whom finished among the top 10 percent of the runners in the 214-deep field.  

Lopez finished 14 seconds ahead of Elias, his nearest East County challenger.

“The first mile I knew that the pack would guide me to a pretty quick time, so I thought about getting through that first mile pretty quick and I could separate after the hill came, right after the first mile,” Lopez explained.

Lopez got out to a solid start last season before being hobbled by a late season injury. He’s hoping to stretch his good fortunes all the way to the state championship meet this season.

“Last year I also started off pretty strong and the injury hit,” he said. “I put much more work into the summer, so the beginning of the season feels really strong. I’ve got a good base going.”

West Hills (sixth place) was the top finishing East County team in this year’s South Bay Invitational boy’s varsity race with 231 points. Granite Hills followed in 11th place with 348 points while El Capitan was 12th with 364 points and Santana was 13th with 381 points. Grossmont finished 19th with 472 points, followed by Monte Vista (21st, 481 points).

Thirty-one teams scored in the division.

San Pasqual won the team title with 78 points, followed by Valley Center (second, 120 points), Otay Ranch (third, 130 points), Bonita Vista (fourth, 152 points) and Arizona’s Cibola (fifth, 160 points).

Grossmont senior Courtney Clifford was the top East County finisher in this year’s South Bay Invitational girl’s varsity race after completing the 2.5-mile course in 15:51. She finished third overall in the 206-deep field – 13 seconds behind race-winner Olivia Wade, a freshman from Point Loma, and four seconds behind runner-up Brooke Trossen, a junior from Francis Parker.

Clifford, Wade and Trossen were all locked in stride midway through the race before the final separation in the lead pack took place at the end of the race.

East County runners put on a solid showing in the division. West Hills senior Cierra Leduc finished sixth in 16:20, followed by El Capitan senior Allyson Scott (ninth, 16:30) and Santana junior Janice Deguerio (10th, 16:42). All scored high marks by finishing in the top five percent of the field.

Grossmont sophomore Lisset Dominguez (13th, 16:47), El Capitan senior Melissa Maize (16th, 16:57) and Granite Hills freshman Arianna Revalo (20th, 17:03) all finished among the top 10 percent of runners in the race.

Grossmont (fifth place) was the highest placing East County team in the girls’ varsity race with 167 points. El Capitan placed eighth in the team standings with 204 points, followed by West Hills (11th, 305 points), Santana (14th, 349 points) and Granite Hills (15th, 370 points), El Cajon Valley (28th, 725 points) and Monte Vista (29th, 801 points).

Thirty teams scored in the race.

Point Loma was the top finishing team in the division with 79 points, followed by Bonita Vista (second, 141 points), Francis Parker (third, 146 points) and San Pasqual (fourth, 154 points).

Monte Vista freshman Damian De La Cruz finished third overall in the 257-deep boys frosh/soph race while El Capitan freshman Alexandra Harmon and West Hills freshman Katy Willweber placed fifth and sixth, respectively, in the expansive 311-deep girls junior varsity race.

West Hills junior Spencer Johnson (19th) was the top East County place-finisher in the 193-deep boys JV race.

West Hills finished second behind team champion Point Loma in the girls JV division team standings; Santana placed third overall in the boys’ frosh/soph division standings.

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