The Fountain Valley High School boys’ and girls’ varsity cross country team raced in the Sunset League Finals on Saturday, Oct. 30, winning first place in their respective divisions and securing a spot in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Preliminaries. The meet was at Huntington Beach Central Park on a three-mile course that looped around the park and through a hill.
The girls’ cross country race began at 9 a.m. with the Huntington Beach High School Oilers and the Los Alamitos High School Griffins in the front. However, near the one-and-half mile point, the Barons were able to catch up, with senior Sam Martinez crossing the finish line in third place at 18:47 to the crowd’s enthusiastic cheer.
“The hardest part mentally was seeing so many girls in front of me and thinking just, ‘Wow there’s no way I can pass them all,’” Martinez said. “I pushed through it and I got first for our team, so I’m extremely proud and broke my course [personal record].”
With 39 points, the girls’ cross country team won the Surf division by a tight margin with LAHS with 44 points, Newport Harbor School with 65 points and Laguna Beach High School with 71 points.
After the race was over, girls’ cross country coach Stacey Ferris expressed pride in the girls’ consistency and the team spirit that helped them win.
“I knew that these girls could win league again, so we really wanted to repeat that,” Ferris said. “They come out every day and work extremely hard and they are so cohesive. I knew they would run for each other. I could not be more proud.”
The boys’ cross country race began at 9:30 a.m. with the Edison High School Chargers starting in the lead and HBHS as another strong contender. Once past the hill, junior Benjamin Prado was able to take the lead and crossed the finish placing first with a time of 15:20, to a roaring audience.
“We learned who our competition was — it was Huntington Beach. We were looking to race them for the whole year and knew that they would be our main competition,” Prado said. “I took the first mile easy, just behind the main pack so I could conserve energy. Once I got to the second mile, I pushed a little more and when it came to the last mile, it turned into an all-out sprint.”
Junior Luke Diaz, who placed fifth place with a time of 16:01, felt similar gratitude for his teammates and the team spirit that pushed him through the struggles of the race.
“We have a lot of strong communication outside of the competition,” Diaz said. “Aside from that, the top four Barons and I were all staying in a pack, so we all sort of boosted up each other. I don’t think I would have even gotten close to what my time was if it wasn’t for all my teammates running with me.
Boys’ cross country coach Steven Knowles couldn’t hide his pride for qualifying for the CIF Southern Section Preliminaries and satisfaction about the Barons’ victory.
“They’ve worked really hard all year, and the younger kids filled the shoes of the older team members we lost last year, who won the spring finale so they deserve this,” Knowles said. “I’m very proud of them and the effort they put forward, it was all members, one through seven that won this race. Now we’ve qualified for CIF, and we’re prepared to work really hard next week.”
With 24 points, the boys’ cross country team dominated the Wave Division beating out HBHS’s 44 points, Corona Del Mar High School’s 68 points and Marina High School’s 82 points.
The next Barons’ cross country competition will be the CIF Southern Section Preliminaries on either Nov. 12 or Nov. 13 at the Mt. SAC cross country course in Walnut, Calif. If they qualify, the Barons will move on to compete in the CIF Southern Section Finals, which takes place on Nov. 20, which will determine whether the Barons are eligible to compete in the CIF State meet on Nov. 27.