An exciting day of racing at Signal Hill’s Discovery Well Park set the table for what should be a thrilling Moore League cross country finals. Poly won the boys and girls team and individual races, a reversal from the first league meet of the season.
The Poly boys are ranked No. 6 in the state and were strong as expected, although head coach Mike Fillipow admitted that a change in this week’s schedule meant his squad didn’t push as hard as they normally would.
Will Frankenfeld won his second individual league race of the season with a time of 16:37. Poly had five of the top six finishers as Wilson’s Caden Elsesser finished third, with Jack Raymond (second), Daniel Bautista (fourth), Thomas Fleming (fifth), and Henry Anderson (sixth) coming in behind Frankenfeld.
“We’re racing Friday at the state meet course in Clovis, which changed things for us today,” said Fillipow. “This race is still important but we want our guys to see that state course.”
Frankenfeld acknowledged that most of the Poly team doesn’t relish the steep hills found at Discovery Well, but said he does his best to not let them psych him out.
“I don’t really dread it, I just try not to think about it until right before the race,” he said.
The other top finishers were Joseph Espinosa (Jordan, eighth, 17:12), Joel Swiatkowski (Millikan, ninth, 17:16), Brett Young (Lakewood, 10th, 17:32), Oliver Scott (Cabrillo, 22nd, 18:27), and Anthony Garcia (Compton, 33rd, 20:50).
At El Dorado two weeks ago, it was the Wilson girls team that won a narrow victory in the team race, the first time in several years that the Jackrabbits had lost a league meet. At Signal Hill Wednesday, the Jackrabbit girls with a win to set up an exciting league finals in three weeks.
Poly was behind Wilson in team scoring after the teams’ first pass around the top of the hill, but pulled away to win in the final half of the race. Leslie Diaz was once again the top finisher, with a time of 19:20, 34 seconds before Wilson’s Aliya Mesihovich’s second-place finish.
After that it was a strong finish for the Jackrabbits, as they had four of the top six finishers. Diaz and Mehisovich were followed by Fiona O’Leary and Olivia Boyce of Poly, Tiana Prince of Millikan, and Sydney Carson of Poly. Wilson’s Ryann Mayo and Sabrina Del Bello finished seventh and eighth.
Poly topped Wilson 21-37 in the team scoring, while Millikan had its best meet of the year led by Prince. Ashley Wicka, Vanessa Washington, and Sahian Santoyo finished ninth through 11th in a pack for the Rams.
Diaz said she and her teammates were excited to get the team win, but not ready to look ahead to league finals.
“It feels really good to get a win,” she said. “But we know we’re still a long way, and we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves.”
Poly is seeking a 14th consecutive league title on the girls side; Wilson was the last team to win it besides the Jackrabbits, back in 2003.
Because of the way the league is weighted, whichever school wins at league finals will claim the league championship—that meet is weighted 50% of the overall points and it’s also the tiebreaker.
“It’s tough because the results are based on how other teams run and we really just try to focus on ourselves,” said Poly coach Nate Bershtel. “We were really happy with how we ran at El Dorado and we were happy with how we ran today.”
Top finishers for the other schools were Kimi Babinski (Lakewood, 13th, 21:16), Giselle Calderon (Cabrillo, 29th, 25:24), and Monique Aranjo (Compton, 30th, 26:22).
The Moore League finals will be held at Heartwell Park on Nov. 1.