Junior Jennifer Nguyen in the girls’ varsity race. Photo by Andrew Hsieh.


Barons’ cross country treks through Mt. SAC Invitational

Fountain Valley High School athletes had solid finishes in the Mt. SAC Invitational.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/fvhsjvtran107/" target="_self">Jenny Tran</a>

Jenny Tran

December 1, 2021
On Saturday, Oct. 23 at the 73rd Mt. San Antonio College Invitational, Barons’ cross country ended the dim and drizzly morning in eighth place for the girls and 15th for the boys.

With many up well before dawn, the team members drove up to Mt. SAC in the early darkness of the day. The Mt. SAC course is notorious for being arduous. It is composed of three distinct dirt hills: Switchbacks, Poopout and Reservoir, all of them vary in elevation and distance, yet all visibly steep.

The earliest race of the day took place at 7:30 a.m. with the boys’ freshmen race. It was run by freshmen Ethan Kwong and Braxton To, with times of 17:57 and 18:50, respectively.

A mere twenty minutes later, the girls’ freshmen race followed. The group was led by freshman Aya Roque, who placed 22nd with a time of 21:36; close behind was freshman Hailey Tran with a time of 22:34.

The sophomore races persisted through the course next. Leading the boys’ sophomore race was sophomore Andrew Hsieh with a time of 19:03. Sophomores David Palamartz and Blake Hughes continued through the finish line next with respective times of 19:47 and 20:45.

“It hurt, there were a lot of hills,” Hughes said. “[My strategy] was to hug the inside of the turns and kind of go hard on the hills. I’m feeling pretty good about [my time]. It’s pretty close to Central Park and pretty good all-around.”

A view of the Switchbacks, the first hill of the course. Photo by Andrew Hsieh.

Leading the girls’ sophomore race were sophomores Mariana Hernandez, Alinne Dao and Melissa Huynh. They achieved times of 22:01, 22:16 and 23:15.

“It was pretty fun. The weather was good for a Mt. SAC race,” Hernandez said. “[I was] trying to keep up with the person in front of me and trying to stay with my teammates for the first part. I was pretty happy with my time.”

Huynh felt similarly about the race.

“I was pretty happy with my time. I kept a constant pace the whole time because I was following this girl,” Huynh said. “While I was going up the hills, [someone] told me to do ‘fast arms,’ so I remembered to lift my knees and do ‘fast arms.’ This race wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be. The hills were pretty bad, but the course overall wasn’t super terrible. I like the downhills.”

With the sun still hidden behind the smoky overcast, the team surged forward with the boys’ sweepstakes race. Junior Benjamin Prado swept through the finish with a phenomenal time of 15:39. Senior Shane Hill with a time of 15:56 and sophomore Diego Alonso with 16:20 followed next.

Senior Benjamin Prado leading the pack in the boys’ varsity sweepstakes race. Photo by Andrew Hsieh.

In the girls’ varsity race, the pack was led by junior Evelyn To and seniors Leah Ferris and Megan Feitz. They achieved strong times of 19:38, 19:54 and 20:18, respectively.

“The race was interesting,” Ferris said. “The first mile was really good. The second and third mile, not so great. The hills kind of sucked; they were extremely hard. I was really happy with my time. My goal was to get under a 21, and I got under a 20.”

Senior Leah Ferris (right) and junior Evelyn To (left) in the first half of the girls’ varsity race. Photo by Andrew Hsieh.

The team continued next with the boys’ junior varsity race, with junior Noah Korhonen finishing with a time of 18:30. Juniors Eric Nash and Thomas Chisnall were close behind with respective times of 19:11 and 19:19.

The morning ended on an incredible note with senior Samantha Martinez placing first in the girls’ JV race with a time of 19:34. Juniors Iliana Lucero and Emely Marmolejo finished next with respective times of 24:24 and 24:54.

Even with the challenging course — and not being able to tell their sweat from rainwater — the Barons still drove through it all. Their results consequently reflected that.

“I’m super proud of everybody for just getting here and running the course at Mt. SAC, because it’s the toughest one in the whole league,” said girls’ coach Stacey Ferris. “[Girls’] times were better than I thought today because generally, it’s a slower course with three hills. As far as the boys’ times go, I know that they were hoping for a little bit faster. But, again, the experience and just getting here and running Mt. SAC is what we were [aiming for]. Nobody on this team has ever run Mt. SAC before, so they exceeded my expectations because I really didn’t know what to expect. Everyone did very well, I think, overall.”