RECAP Familiar Faces, Teams Back on Top of LA City Section

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Max Fields, Francisco Rodriguez and Gabriela Nascimento defended division titles at the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. 

Fields, a junior at Palisades Charter (pictured above), was the fastest boy on the 3-mile course, running 15 minutes, 8.90 seconds, while leading his team to a second consecutive Division 1 title. He improved 13.60 seconds from his winning time in 2021.

In winning the fastest race of the day, Fields was 36-plus seconds ahead of runner-up Adrian Sverlow-Men, a senior at San Pedro, who was second in 10:45.20, just ahead of Cleveland junior Joseph Vargas, who placed tthird in 15:45.70. The top six boys in the D-1 race covered the course faster than anyone else at the meet on a windy day in the San Fernando Valley. 

In totaling 31 points, Palisades also got scoring performances from freshman Zachary Cohen (fourth in 15:50.50), sophomore Owen Lewicky (seventh in 16:09.60), junior Axel Mammen (ninth in 16:16.40), and freshman Blake Sigworth (10th in 16:16.70).

The LA City Section is allotted two automatic team qualifiers in Division 1 for the Nov. 26 CIF-State Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno, and one each for the other four divisions. Up to five individuals in D-1 not on a qualifying team who place among the top 12, also advance to the State Meet. In the other four divisions, up to five individuals not on the qualifying team who place among the top eight also advance to State. 

Junior Alexander Mendoza placed fifth in 15:52.80 and senior Sean Taylor was sixth in 15:58.40 in leading Granada Hills Charter to the other auto-qualifying spot to State. Individuals advancing at Sverlow-men, Vargas, San Pedro senior Daniel Ruiz, and Narbonne sophomore Mario Aluizo.

Boys - Division 2

Marshall senior Juan Zamora beat Venice sophomore Paul Tranquilla to the line by 1.30 seconds to win the division title in 16:26.40. Tranquilla was eight-plus seconds in front of freshman teammate London Webster in leading Venice to the team title and the division's only bid to the State Meet. At-large individual qualifiers are Zamora, seniors Fabrizzio (Bravo Medical Magnet) and Evangel Hightower-Rojas (Eagle Rock), sophomore Christopher Ramirez (Bravo), and junior Micah Rick (Eagle Rock). 

Boys - Division 3

Franklin senior Francisco Rodriguez ran 16:02.50 to beat Reseda junior Jude Sandridge by 23.50 seconds in winning his second consecutive LAC title and Verdugo Hills defended its section title with a four-point win over Bernstein. 

At-large qualifiers for the State Meet are Rodriguez, Sandridge, sophomore Omar Fabila (Roybal Learning Centers), junior Matthew Lamban (Franklin), and junior Sean Chavez (SOCES). 

Verdugo packed at 40 seconds while Bernstein packed at 52 seconds.

Scoring for the winners: Junior Dustin Harzmann (17:16.20), and seniors William Low (17:21.70) and Shawn Morton (17:22.10) placed ninth-11th, and junior Hunter Lopez (17:54.40) and senior Jesus Murillo (17:57.40) placed 14th-15th (13th-14th among scoring runners). 

Boys - Division 4

A year after placing 13th at the LAC Finals, Mendez junior Miguel Morales-Lopez is a section champion! Morales-Lopez improved year-over-year by 2:02.70 from his result in 2021 in leading his team to the title and the division's only State Meet berth. 

Junior Bryan Gonzalez of Orthopedic Medical Magnet placed second in 17:40.80 to earn an at-large berth to State. Joining him are LACES senior Lucas Jia, Foshay Learning Center junior Samuel Portillo-Diaz, and East Valley freshman Marvin Johnson

Behind Morales-Lopez for Mendez, which scored 31 points, were senior Jesse Maldonado (third in 17:45.10), senior Hernan Uvera (sixth in 18:12.20), junior Jonathon Alfaro (eighth in 18:21.80), and sophomore Demitri Hernandez (14th, 13th among scoring runners, in 18:45.20). 

Boys - Division 5

New West Charter senior William Bujake, second a year ago, won the title by nearly 80 seconds in leading his team to the title and the division's lone State Meet berth. Bujake, who ran the Piece College course in 17:34.50 a year ago, crushed it on Saturday, rolling to an impressive YOY improvement of 16:19.90. His time last year would have won the title this year but only by four seconds over Central City Value senior Juan Morales, who qualifed for State as an at-large. 

Joining Morales as at-large qualifiers are Magnolia Science Academy junior Samuel Velez, LA Ledership senior Hector Flores, Aliance Marine senior Felix Carmona, and Sun Valley Magnet senior Sebastian Solorio. 

Also scoring for NWC were freshman Aaron Lee (10th, eighth among scoring runners), senior Keahi West Teubner (15th, 12th), junior Sonny Betterton Gage (21st, 17th), and sophomore Quincy Lai (27th, 23rd).

Girls - Division 1

A year after placing 14th in the Los Angeles City Section XC Finals, Granada Hills Charter sophomore Meztli Velazquez is now a section champion. She improved by nearly two minutes in running to a 18:22.00 time to beat Palisades senior Ava Baak (18:38.60).

Velazquez led GHC to 37 points in defense of its title. Baak led Palisades, which scored 57 points, and secured the division's other State Meet berth. 

Individuals qualifying for State are Hamilton senior Luciana Valencia, San Pedro sophomore Alexandrio Nobregas, Garfield sophomore Kelia Naranjo-Champion, Taft senior Lizeth Sanchez, and Cleveland senior Layla Ekmekji

Also scoring for GHC were seniors Naima Salazar (third in 18:39.20), Jocelyn Pacheco (fourth in 19:11.80), Zaida Velazquez (seventh in 19:32.90), and freshman Sophia Battle (22nd in 20:49.30). Other scorers for Palisades included junior Kyra Morris (sixth, 19:31.00), freshman Louisa Mammen (13th, 20:11.50), senior Layla Adeli (14th, 20:12.10), junior Virginia O'Neill (17th, 20:29.60). 

Girls - Division 2

Sophomore Brynn Bogue, second a year ago, earned the title this time, running 19:24.60 to hold off Marshall sophomore Gabrielle Cannesson (19:30.00) while leading her team to the title and a State Meet berth.

Sophomores Sofia Najarro, and Angelique Morales, senior Frida Conejo, and sophomore Jasmine Hernandezalso scored for Bravo.

Cannesson, junior Angelina Valladares of Canoga Park, senior Lidia Prokopovych-Shchepetkin of Venice -- the 2021 division champion -- sophomore Angelina Lopez of Canoga Park, and junior Elizabeth Corrigan of Eagle Rock earned State Meet at-large spots. 

Girls - Division 3

A year after placing fourth, Reseda senior Molly Sandridge is a division champion. Sandridge ran the 3-mile course in 20:41.30 to beat Bernstein senior Diana Gonzalez, who placed second in 21:09.50 in leading the team champions. Seniors Xenia Villarreal placed sixth, Amy Ramirez was ninth and Carla Orellana was 10th for Bernstein. 

Sandridge, freshman Alexandra Villanueva (SOCES), senior Lily Tetell (SOCES), sophomore Rosemary Sandridge (Reseda), and senior Angela Jimenez Zepada (Reseda) earned at-large bids to the State Meet.

Girls - Division 4

Maywood freshman Kellie Mena ran 21:29.30 to win the divisison title and senior Lucia Bautista-Flores placed second in 22:01.70 to lead Mendez to a 37-point margin in defending its title and earning the division's lone spot at State. 

Mena, Dorsey freshman Marlene Garcia, East Valley junior Jaqueline Juarez, Northridge Academy sophomore Hannah Carlson, and Downtown Magnet junior Shecid Macias earned at-large bids to State. Carlson, who won the division title a year ago, but was 1:46 slower Saturday than in '21.

Freshman Rosa Bautista-Flores, senior Emily Jejia and sophomore Magaly Garcia-Sanchez placed among the top nine overall for Mendez. 

Girls - Division 5

New West Charter junior Gabriela Nascimento defended her title while leading NWC to a repeat division crown and State Meet berth. Nascimento ran the course in 19:20.80, nearly a 17-second improvement from '21, to win by nearly 30 seconds over runner-up Valerie Palma, a freshman from Alliance Stern. Sophomore Erin Mayfield was 11th overall running No. 2 for NWC, which put up 51 points to beat Rancho Dominguez Prep by one point. Sophomores Kahri Sivkov (13th, 12th among scoring runners), and Adeline Shassberger (14th/13th), and junior Liana Abraham (17th/15th) also scored for the winners.

Photos by Meg Oliphant

Jeffrey Parenti is the California State Editor for MileSplit