Cross-country runners make strides to state meet at LA city championships

Granada’s cross-country team put up a fight on Nov. 22 at the CIF Los Angeles City Championships, where schools from across the city section came to dominate the 3-mile course at Pierce Community College.  Qualifying four runners individually, Granada’s boys’ and girls’ varsity teams came ready to leave it all on the course.

The morning started off for the runners with the girls’ Division I varsity race at 9 a.m.  With the blast of the gun the girls were off, with senior and record holder Marissa Williams of Palisades HS leading the race.  Behind her followed a tight pack made up of senior Becky Alch from Taft HS, junior Natalie Realegeno and senior Tessa Weinberg from Granada, seniors Danielle Nunez and Dana Cameron from San Pedro HS, and senior Kathie Paniagua from Chatsworth HS.

Putting up a tough fight, Realegeno came in 3rd overall and first for Granada with a time of 18:49.46.  Realegeno improved immensely from her 21st place finish at 19:58.9 at last year’s city finals.  Training every day leading up to the race, Realegeno has pushed herself to success as a mere junior.

“I think our season was actually amazing.  There were a lot of unexpected surprises.  We came out good as a team.  We stayed strong throughout the whole, and we finished really, really strong and I’m really proud of us,” Realegeno said.

Realegeno’s season isn’t over just yet as she qualified as an individual for the State meet along with senior Tessa Weinberg and sophomore Jazmine Macias.  Both improving from last year, Weinberg came in 6th at 19:04.42, less than a second after San Pedro’s Dana Cameron.  Macias crossed the finish line with a time of 19:30.35, gaining the last girls’ individual spot for the State meet.

For all three girls it will be their second time competing in the State meet in Clovis as they qualified with their team last year when Granada girls placed 2nd in the city.  Although the girls didn’t qualify as a team this year, placing third in the city with 83 points after Palisades (56) and San Pedro (76), they are grateful for the chance to keep their season going.

“I’m really excited [for State.]  I get to go up with two of my other teammates, and it’s going to be really fun,” said Realegeno.  “There are a lot of talented girls up there, so it should be a lot of good competition and we should be doing our best.”

On the boys’ side, senior Cristian Cucuta also qualified to run at State for the first time out of his four years running for Granada.  Clocking in a time of 15:47.61, Cucuta placed 7th out of the 85 runners in the Division I boys’ varsity race. 

It was an emotional end to Cucuta’s high school cross-country career as he has been running since he was younger on the Northridge Pacers Youth Club.

“Today, honestly, wasn’t my best performance, but I’m very happy with how I finished today, and this season. I worked very hard over the summer for this, and I’m just proud of myself and my team,” said Cucuta.  “Four years of running for Granada has really been a great experience, just to be with my whole team, and after thirteen years of running it’s almost to an end.  It’s a great day today and I’m very happy for my team.”

The only boy to qualify for the State meet held on November 29, Cucuta expressed his enthusiasm to get the chance to run at the coveted meet.

“I’m very excited for State.  It’ll be my first time after a tough four years.  I’m pumped and I’m ready to go to Clovis and just race.  That’s what I’m happy for.”

Just one point away from qualifying as a team, the boys placed 3rd overall in the city with 87 points behind Marshall’s 86 points and El Camino Real’s 64 points.

Sophomore Jose Gonzalez shattered his previous personal best (16:23) as he came in second for the team and 17th overall at 16:14.70.  Junior André Shahinian wasn’t far behind with a time of 16:19.95, followed by sophomore Ben Tiber at 16:28.91.  Junior Jacob Seemann also managed to come in under 17:00, at 16:46.85, rounding off Granada’s top five boys.

While the majority of the team ends their cross-country season, the fast four continue to train in hopes of achieving their best among the top in the state this coming Saturday.

—Tessa Weinberg

CIF LA City Championship Results

Boys Varsity

  • Cristian Cucuta – 15:47.61
  • Jose Gonzalez – 16:14.70
  • André Shahinian – 16:19.95
  • Ben Tiber – 16:28.91
  • Jacob Seemann – 16:46.85
  • Alfredo Hernandez – 17:24.54
  • Isaac Adeleke – 18:51.88

Girls Varsity

  • Natalie Realegeno – 18:49.46
  • Tessa Weinberg – 19:04.42
  • Jazmine Macias – 19:30.35
  • Anastasia Vela – 20:50.65
  • Tori Childers – 21:07.71
  • Megan Satterfield – 21:11.92
  • Denise Rojas – 21:27.84

Complete results for all the LA City Championship races can be found at: http://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/Results/Meet.aspx?Meet=92783#1499

Visit http://theplaidpress.com/category/sports/ to read more stories about Granada’s sports teams.