Runners ready for this years uphill

After strong showings at their first three races of the school year,  Diamond Bar High School’s cross country team showed progress that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Head coach Malinalli Cooke was pleased with the team’s performance at the SoCal RoadRunners XC Series on Aug. 22, their last preseason meet of the year, as many runners improved their personal records in race times.

“We always have improvement, but to have more than one or two people improve with two minutes or more is unusual,” Cooke said.

As that race was two-miles long, the finish times showed that a few of the runners  shortened their one-mile time by more than a minute.

The team also did well on Sept. 1, at the 2 mile Fastback Shoot-out in Arcadia Park. Lukas Amare, who set the school mile record last season, placed second among more than 200 senior boys, with a time of 10:30. Senior George Rosales was right behind him with, finishing four seconds later. Juniors Keili Ishitani and Allison Ear were the frontrunners on the girls side, with times of 12:24 and 12:35, respectively.

Overall, varsity captain Nathan Sinn was proud of his team’s scores.

“Everyone did well to the best of their abilities,” Sinn said, “and I’ve been seeing a lot of growth.”

For the girls team, filling in the alumni’s shoes is no small task. Although the team only has twelve members, Cooke hopes to see overall growth as the girls are aiming to place second or higher at league finals for a consecutive year.

“I’m also looking forward to them moving up and filling in the spots of people who graduated last year,” Cooke said.

Among those leaving was former captain Allison Kang. To continue her success, the top three runners— Allison Ear, Keili Ishitani and varsity captain Victoria Artale—need to show consistent performances.

On the boys team, Cooke says the top eight runners have very similar times.

“As the season progresses, any of them could switch places,” she said. “Our fifth place runner could easily become our third place runner, that’s how close they are.”

Last year, the boys placed first at league finals and current results suggest they’ll take it again. Most recently at the first league meet in Bonelli Park, Amare ran the three miles in almost sixteen minutes to place first, with Rosales just a minute behind him. Sinn was third for Diamond Bar with 17:46  and senior Brandon Rodrigues was next with 18:34. Rounding off the top five was Zavier Hernandez with 18:55. Combined, the varsity boys won first place, continuing last year’s streak.

“I’m really hoping the boys take [first place at] league [finals]; we have a really strong team that’s stronger than last year,” Cooke said.

Meanwhile, the last meet saw the girls place third. Juniors Ear, Ishitani, Cameron Tsao and Artale made up Diamond Bar’s top four, and Sophomore Carrissa Jeon slid into the fifth slot. Chaffey and Ontario High school narrowly took first and second ahead of Diamond Bar, posing the biggest threat to Diamond Bar’s girls winning league finals. Meanwhile, the boys are expected to clash with Ontario once more to reclaim their title.

 The coach said she has high ambitions for this season and feels optimistic due to the runners’ progress so far. The team heads off to its next meet on Sept. 21 at the Woodbridge Classic Invite.