December 5, 2008
By John Philip Wyllie
Bonita Vista High has had some good cross country teams over the years and produced a number of athletes that have gone on to excel as long distance runners in college, but as far as anyone can tell, the Mesa League school has never qualified both a boys team and a girls team for the annual state competition in the same year. Judging from the records available, it appears that no South Bay team has ever done that. Last weekend coach, Lou Russo was proud to see his fleeted-footed boys and girls teams qualify for Fresno and acquit themselves well in state competition.
The Barons girls team was undefeated in dual league competition and took the Mesa League crown with their 4-0 record. The boys at 3-1 were edged out by Otay Ranch and had to settle for second place in the league standings, but went to compete well in the CIF San Diego section competition.
“At the CIF finals our boys finished second in the Division II and our girls finished third. When you look at all the teams in the CIF southern sector, which includes San Diego and Imperial Counties, there were 80 boys teams competing and 70 girls teams. Both our boys and girls teams placed second,” Russo said.
That strong showing propelled them into the state competition. Last weekend the teams completed the finest cross country season in the school’s history by finishing 13th (boys) and 19th (girls) in Division II for the entire state of California.
Sophomore Cristina Hernandez was the Barons top female performer this season, but in order to qualify as team for the state competition she needed the help of teammates like Cynthia Alvarez, Sophia Garcia and several other prime contributors.
On the boys side, Alfredo Rodriguez led the way, but he had help from Shinola Agbede, Eric Osuna, Marco Gutierrez and several other highly competitive runners.
“The key this year was their summer work,” Russo said. “In past years the running club had trained Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This summer they trained six days a week. By the time the season started they had already built up a good base. With that base set, even those without the natural talent were able to keep up and gain speed that they didn’t realize that they had.”
The best news of all is that both teams are laden with underclassmen. Virtually everyone will be returning next year and many of Bonita Vista’s top performers are only sophomores.