After placing 2nd in league (Boys), and 3rd in league (Girls), both of Costa Mesa’s Cross Country teams qualified for the CIF Prelims at Mt. San Antonio College.
This would be the second year the boys team qualified for CIF Prelims, while this would be the first time for all of the girls on the team to make it this far as a team. Led by Head Coach, Steve Moreno, the team has made great leaps and bounds. Comparing to last year, the Boys team has moved from the 3rd to 2nd in league, and the Girls have moved from last in the league to 3rd.
Leaving from school at around 6:30 in the morning the team set out with one goal in mind, to qualify for CIF Finals. From the mood from the bus ride, you would be surprised that these students would be racing on one of the most infamous courses in the nation later that day. Many athletes were huddled in corners of bus seats trying to catch some sleep on the hour ride to Mt. SAC. After reaching the college, the athletes hopped off the bus and made the trek to the designated grounds where they would set up camp. In the background, an ever-present bang rang through the air as the starting gun went off every ten minutes that signaled a start of a race.
As their races approached, there was a mixed reaction among the teams. Senior, Jocelyn Gutierrez expressed a sense of nervousness and excitement. Slightly shaking, she stated, “I’m mostly sad because it’d be potentially my last race.”
Team Captain of the Boys team, Brett Bermudez, expressed a lot of confidence in his impending competition. Casually changing into his race attire Bermudez stated, “I’m not too excited. It’s just a stepping stone for next week [CIF Finals].”
After the dust cleared, two Mustangs remained. Brett Bermudez and Anuare Magana (11th grade) placed 8th and 9th (respectively) in the 2nd Heat to qualify as individuals in next weeks CIF Finals. Overall, both teams showed great effort. Both the Boys and Girls Teams missed qualifying for the Finals by one place. The Boys improved as a team improved over 2 minutes since their last appearance at Mt. SAC, while the Girls improved over 6 minutes. The Boys placed 9th and the Girls placed 6th in their respective heats. After the improving her personal record on the course by 1 minute 25 seconds, Girl’s Team Captain and Senior, Daysi Vasquez, had this to say about how she felt about the race, “[I felt] Accomplished, because I PR’d on the hardest course, even though I didn’t achieve all my goals. I’m still proud of myself and my team for making it this far.”
Bermudez was satisfied with his results stating, “We did what we wanted to do. Nothing extraordinary.” Coach Moreno shared Bermudez’s opinion saying, “The team did a great job and did a lot of work this season. [I feel] Nothing but very proud of their efforts this season.”
On the other hand, Magana felt that he needed improvement before next week’s CIF Finals. He was quoted saying, “I feel like I need more training downhill. I’m going to make it my focus.”
Even as the season ends for many of the athletes, the future looks bright for the Mustang Cross Country teams. There is only one senior leaving from the Boy’s Team and two girls leaving from the Girl’s Team. Last year, the Boy’s Team made history by not only qualifying as a team for CIF Prelims for the first time in 15 years, but also made it to CIF Finals. It seems that Coach Moreno has a set a new standard for his teams, and his athletes continue to meet and surpass it.
After Prelims two athletes made it to CIF finals, hoping to make it CIF State Cross Country Championships.
Senior Brett Bermudez and Junior Anuare Magana qualified to next weeks CIF XC Finals to be held at Mt. Sac College on Saturday, November 23rd.
Photos By Serena Ozonur