XC Preview: Los Angeles City Section Boys - Girls

Sofia Abrego of Granada Hills Charter is a two-time Division I champion; Lucas Schriver avenged a narrow defeat at the Los Angeles City Section Finals with a strong performance at the State Meet. (Photos by Patrick Corsinita and Pat Rhames)

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As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the greater Los Angeles area and the ICU capacity remains at 0.0% in the Southern California Region, the chances for any degree of a cross country season diminish by the day.

The first hurdle to clear in a return to high school sports is a lifting of the state Department of Public Health's Stay At Home Order. Until the CDPH is able to make a four-week projection that ICU capacity will at least reach the required 15%, the SAHO will remain in place.

CIF sections statewide have started to move forward in outlining a return-to-play plan once the SAHO is lifted. The Southern Section, 560-schools strong, has a scheduled announcement on Tuesday. The Los Angeles City Section, the San Diego Section and the CIF-SS all fall under the state's Southern California Region being evaluated by the CDPH for ICU capacity. Until the entire region has the SAHO order lifted, high school athletics aren't possible. 

While the outlook in mid-January is not promising, we remain hopeful that some form of a cross county season is eventually possible this winter. With that, we present this LA City Section cross country preview to recognize returning athletes whose performance at the final meets of the 2019-20 season warrant recognition. 



  • Returning LAC Teams - 5K | BOYS | GIRLS
  • Returning LAC Individuals - 5K | BOYS | GIRLS
  • Returning LAC Individuals - 3 Miles | BOYS | GIRLS
  • LAC 2019 Championship Results | Recap 


Rising junior Sofia Abrego of Granada Hills Charter is one of the top distance runners in the state. She is already a two-time LAC champion in Division 1 while leading her team to a section title. Abrego placed 22nd at the CIF-State Meet, running the 5000-meter Woodward Park course in 18:1210. She is the No. 14 returner from that race. She also was a Foot Locker National qualifier.

Also scheduled to return for GHC, which placed 17th at State, are rising sophomore Naima Salazar, who placed sixth at the section final, and rising seniors Sydney Olofe (8th), Sonia Parikh (12th) and Jenna Rashkovsky (14th). That is four of the five scorers and five of the seven who took the line at LAC finals. 

San Pedro, 56 points behind in second place, returns four of its five scorers in rising seniors Evelyn Gaspar (15th), Sabrina Correa (20th), Tanya Velasquez (22nd), Grace Ferguson (24th). Sixth runner Kaylee Vargas, a rising junior, was the runner who broke the tie for second with El Camino Real, placing 31st among scorers, five places in front of ECR's fifth runner and 11 places ahead of its sixth runner. 

Senior Shana Mendelsohn led ECR placing second overall, some 13 seconds behind Abrego, and classmate Valerie Chan was fifth, almost 30 seconds back. Mendelsohn (pictured) was 53rd and Chan 57th at State. All five ECR scorers return: senior Caroline Bates (21st), junior Kacie De Silva (25th) and sophomore Yahaira Benitez-Pedraza (37th). 

Other top-25 returners in Division I from the LAC Final

4Amelie Missig10Taft (William Howard) High School (LA)18:44.450
9Frieda Cedillo10Kennedy (John F.) High School (LA)19:28.748
11Vivian Meraz10Kennedy (John F.) High School (LA)19:48.8610
16Bethany Abrego11Marshall (John) Senior High (LA)20:18.9015
17Arianna Villalobos11Van Nuys Senior High (LA)20:22.5916
18Crystal Hernandez10Garfield (James A.) Senior High (LA)20:22.8717
19Sydney Suh9Palisades Charter High (LA)20:24.5818
23Jacqueline Ramirez10Garfield (James A.) Senior High (LA)20:39.3322


San Pedro, a two-point winner over Marshall, is led by defending division champion Max Arroyo, who held off Palisades Charter's Lucas Schriver by 1.73 seconds. A week later at State, it was Schriver crossing first, 1.20 seconds ahead of Arroyo (bib 1485 in photo).

Junior Luis Sandoval placed 17th at the section final as another returner for San Pedro among top-25 finishers. 

The only top-25 finisher for Marshall is No. 4 scorer Finlay Robertson, a junior, who was 22nd. In addition to Schriver, Palisades also returns senior Brent Bailey and a trio of juniors in Noah Wexler (16th), Alec Schmitt (18th) and Jeremy Santiago (20th).

Other top-25 returners in Division 2 from the LAC Final

15Jason Cerda11Cleveland (Grover) High (LA)16:04.7715
24Leo Avina11Birmingham Community Charter (LA)16:23.1524
25Austin Ledgerwood10El Camino Real Senior High (LA)16:24.5925


Senior Norma Alvarez (pictured) won her second consecutive section title in leading Santee to a runner-up finish in the team competition. She was 46th at State and is the No. 31 returner from that race.

Senior Xitlali Gomez, placed sixth overall at the section final as the No. 3 scorer also returning for Santee. 

Monroe, a two-point winner in the team competition, returns its top four scorers and six of the seven who took the line at section finals. The group includes five seniors in Karla Ballin (5th), Brandy Contreras (9th), Ana Cortez (16th), Leticia Taperia (25th) and Naydelin Chimil (30th), and sophomore Stephanie Jeronimo (13th). 

Eagle Rock, which placed third, returns four scorers and five of its top six in juniors Keely Miyamoto (8th), Andrada Kiana (10th), Ilia Garcia-Lana (21st), senior Itzel Whyte-Aguayo (22nd) and sophomore Marielle Williamson (24th). 

Other top-25 returners in Division 2 from the LAC Final

4Angelica Milar10Bravo (Francisco) Medical Magnet High (LA)19:28.014
11Vasti Orbach11San Fernando Senior High (LA)20:40.2311
14Ashley Aguilar10Robert F. Kennedy Community School (LA)20:52.3814
17Elin Nowak9Venice Senior High School (LA)21:06.9817
19Marina Navarro10Robert F. Kennedy Community School (LA)21:14.6019


Venice, a 48-point winner over Santee, returns its top two runners in seniors Juan Hernandez, the 2019 division champion, and Kaleb Macias, who placed fourth. Hernandez (pictured) placed 72nd at State.

Section runner-up Santee returns three of its top four scorers in seniors Crizly Agustin (6th), Angel Cabrera (18th) and Pablo Miranda (19th). Third place Monroe returns five of its top six runners in juniors Jefler Alonzo (10th), William Rojas (13th), Andrew Camarena (30th) and seniors Santiago Miguel (29th) and Rigoberto Rodriguez (31st).

Other top-25 returners in Division 2 from the LAC Final

14James Jimenez10Venice Senior High School (LA)16:55.7114
15Gustavo Hernandez11Contreras (Miguel) Learning Complex (LA)16:57.2315
17Daniel BritoChavez (Cesar E.) Learning Academy (LA)17:19.400
20Vincent Quinones11Bravo (Francisco) Medical Magnet High (LA)17:28.8419
25Christian Diego10Robert F. Kennedy Community School (LA)17:40.0124


Canoga Park returns four of its five scorers including division champion Gabriela Martinez, a senior, and junior Dulce Gonzalez, a junior who placed fourth overall and third among scorers. Martinez was a 10-second winner over Verdugo Hills 2020 Maria Jimenez

Senior Serena Yeager (13th) and sophomore Briyanna Movafegan (21st) round out the Canoga Park returning crew that fell just short of a section title.

That honor went to Verdugo Hills, by all of three points, which returns its Nos. 2-5 scorers in junior Fiorella Aguirre (8th), senior Heather Gentile (9th), junior Samantha Medrano (10th/pictured) and sophomore Hennessy Gonzalez (27th). 

Hollywood, which was third, returns sophomore Juliana Molina-Santos (12th) and junior Bryanna Bolanos (29th) from a senior-heavy lineup. 

Other top-25 returners in Division 3 from the LAC Final

7Citlali Tejeda11Legacy High School (LA)20:48.195
11Adela Torres11Lincoln (Abraham) Senior High (LA)21:44.419
14Ashley Alfaro10Lincoln (Abraham) Senior High (LA)22:22.4312
15Victoria Mendez11Northridge Academy (LA)22:31.0013
16Cydney Harris11Dorsey High School (LA)22:33.8014
17Alexis Lewis11Dorsey High School (LA)22:47.0915
20Gisselle Burgos11Valley Academy of Arts & Sciences (LA)23:08.1718
23Leslie Rodriguez11Northridge Academy (LA)23:13.5321
25Yaneli Chimil10Lincoln (Abraham) Senior High (LA)23:25.1023


The tight Verdugo Hills-Canoga Park battle continued in the boys competition with Verdugo Hills, again, claiming the title. Only one scorer returns for Verdugo Hills in junior Fabrizio Valdivia, who was 14th overall as the team's No. 3 scorer. Senior Minas Minasyan was the team's No. 6 runner at the section final. 

Canoga Park returns three scorers in senior Jeffrey Rivas (8th), sophomore Carlos Argueta (13th) and senior Nicholas Moore (23rd). 

Third-place Lincoln returns its 1-3-5 scorers in juniors Adan Garcia (4th) and Sebastian Castaneda (7th) and senior Thanh Duong (38th). 

Other top-25 returners in Division 3 from the LAC Final

19Luis OsorioManual Arts Senior High (LA)17:32.0018
20Anderson Andino Or10Los Angeles High School (LA)17:41.9019
22David Euceda11Manual Arts Senior High (LA)17:54.0221
25Aimar Aguilar11Hollywood Senior High (LA)18:18.0724


Junior Nelly Garnica (pictured) of Oscar De La Hoya Charter won the 2019 title by nearly 40 seconds and Mendez was a 62-point winner in the team competition. Mendez returns two scorers and three of its top six in sophomore Lucia Bautista (4th), junior Jasmin Garcia (11th) and junior Alyssa Carmona (17th). Alliance Marc & Eva Stern, the team runner-up, returns sophomore Laura Perez (3rd) and seniors Cristina Perez (18th) and Josefina Arroyo (19th) its top three scorers. 

Belmont, three points back in third, returns senior Andrea Utuy (8th) and senior Ashley Herrera (13th), among top-25 finishers at the section final. 

Elizabeth Learning Center was fifth but returns all five scorers in seniors Fernanda Romero (16th), Brisa Carrera (21st), Diana Cervantes (23rd) and Valerie Morales (58th) and junior Vanessa Rosales (29th). 

Other top-25 returners in Division 4 from the LAC Final

6Laila Huerta9Fulton College Prep (LA)22:22.835
12Emilia Pirir9Port of Los Angeles (LA)23:12.750
15Lily Tetell9Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (LA)23:36.2512


Mendez completed the sweep of D-4 team titles with a 26-point victory over Elizabeth Learning Center. Mendez returns its Nos. 3 and 5 runners in junior Ucias Xiloj (16th) and senior Joshua Lepe (23rd). 

Elizabeth returns four of its five scorers in senior Imanol Vela-Lopez (10th), senior Anthony Medel (12th), junior Julio Rivera (22nd) and sophomore Alvaro Ventura (26th). Belmont, which placed third, returns its Nos. 2-5 scorers in seniors Rodrigo Rosario (13th) and Denilson Cop (20th), junior Edson Rodriguez (28th) and senior Lester Solis (36th). 

The top returning runner in what was a division dominated by seniors at the top is Anthony Taylor, a rising senior at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, who was ninth in 2019.

Other top-25 returners in Division 4 from the LAC Final

11Jesus Brito10Washington (George) Prep (LA)17:39.2811
15Gael Espinoza11Alliance Marc & Eva Stern (LA)18:04.2015
18Alan Hernandez10Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (LA)18:10.2418


Kelly Wilson won the division title in leading USC Media Arts & Engineering to a 1-2-3-6-10 finish and a 65-point rout in the team competition. Wilson, a senior is one of two scores and four girls returning who took the line at the 2019 LAC Finals. Rising sophomores Julissa Castillo was third overall and Valerie Garcia was 24th. Rising junior Xochitl Benitez was 28th. 

Team runner-up New West Charter returns its Nos. 2-5 scores in juniors Luchia Torro (13th), Lucia Ferman (16th) and Hana Morshedi (19th), and senior Nicole Lue Chin (41st). 

Senior-dominant Sun Valley Magnet, which placed third, returns its 5-6-7 runners in juniors Esmeralda Ramirez (36th) and Brenda Jimenez (37th) and senior Mirian Torres (44th).

Other top-25 returners in Division 5 from the LAC Final

5Melanie Davis9Rancho Dominguez Prep (LA)22:19.135
7Jennifer Barrita10Central City Value Charter (LA)22:40.917
8Alyssa Lomeli9Rancho Dominguez Prep (LA)22:57.858
9Ashley Alvarado11Central City Value Charter (LA)23:06.929
14Saray Cortez9Academia Avance Charter (LA)23:23.6814
15Ashley Hernandez9Alliance Marc & Eva Stern (LA)23:25.550
17Alondra Espinosa10Academia Avance Charter (LA)23:44.6116
18Xithlaly Rodriguez10Community Charter Early College (LA)23:48.3517
20Jasmine Duenas9Maywood Academy (LA)24:14.120
21Gabriela Hernandez10East Valley (LA)24:14.710
22Natalia Coleote9University Prep Value (LA)24:21.6619
23Joyce Martinez11Discovery Prep (LA)24:27.4720


New West Charter, a 27-point winner over Sun Valley Magnet, is well stocked for the future returning all seven runners from the 2019 LAC Finals. Section runner-up Luke Melendez, a senior, and junior Brandon Adreani, who placed third, lead the group. Also scheduled back are senior Bryan Chavez (6th), junior Carson Severson (7th), senior Elijah Weinberg (29th), senior Alejand Gonzalez (38th) and senior Leroy Betterton Gage (41st). 

As dominant as New West was in the team competition, Cesar Romero was in the individual race. Romero, a senior at Maywood Academy, was a 35-second winner over Melendez for the division title. He went on to place 63rd at State and is a top-40 returner from that race.

LAC team runner-up Sun Valley, which had an impressive 42-second 1-5 split, returns four scorers in senior Stan Pelipad (11th), junior Isidro Valdez (13th), senior Joyarib Luevanos (14th) and senior Bryan Mendoza (25th). 

Sixth runner Ethan Solis (48th), a senior, is the top returner for Rancho Dominguez Prep, which placed third with a senior-dominated lineup.

Other top-25 returners in Division 5 from the LAC Final

4Malik Castro-DeVar11WISH Academy17:23.150
9Miguel Macias10Central City Value Charter (LA)17:59.648
12Alexander Rios10Rise Kohyang (LA)18:16.5110
16Jose Romero9Maywood Academy (LA)18:23.4714
17Angel Luna10Community Charter Early College (LA)18:25.070
23Alexander Papadopo11Harbor Teacher Prep. Academy (LA)18:48.2620

Photos by DeAnna Turner, Daniel Tyree, Patrick Corsinita, Pat Rhames.