After nearly 15 months since Martin Luther King High School seniors Francisco Zavaleta and Edger Ortega last toed the line with their cross-country teammates, on February 6th they raced alongside 33 other competetors but winning was not their greatest objective.
“It was exciting just to be racing again,” Zavaleta said after his first-place finish on the three mile course at MLK High School’s campus. Ortega, who came close in second said, “It felt like a blessing. To have the whole process back- from getting up in the morning of competition through to the finish line felt really good.”
As The California Interscholastic Federation, Southern Section, or CIF-SS, resumed high school cross country meets after the stay-at-home-orders lifted on January 25th, students across Riverside county raced in the first competitions since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in March 2020.
The COVID-19 crisis has put most high school sports in California at risk of shortened seasons or complete cancelation. Cross-country is one of five sports including track, swimming, tennis and golf that is allowed to compete despite the county’s COVID-19 Purple Tier status. All other CIF-SS sports can not resume until positive test results decline.
Getty George, athletic director for MLKHS, called the February 6th race a success. “It’s a good first step but there is still a lot to iron out as we move forward,” he said. “It was great to see the kids compete. It’s been way too long.”
Riverside Poly High School Athletic Director Jim Vaughan, whose team competed in Hemet said, “You could tell that nobody cared much for times and places. It was about getting out and competing again. It’s a good beginning.”
Top Varsity Finishers in each dual meet on Saturday, February 6:
MLKHS vs. Centennial
Boys: Francisco Zavaleta-(MLK)-16:02
Girls: Andrea Guadian-(MLK)-19:36
Ramona vs. Norte Vista
Boys: Juan Espino- R-16:04
Girls: Amelia Mercado-(NV)-22:04
Patriot vs. La Sierra
Boys: Masaki Mendoza-(P)-17:02
Girls: Natalia Chavez-(P)-23:41
Hillcrest vs. Arlington
Boys: Joseph Ensley-(A)-17:38
Girls: Sydney Harpster-(H)-20:32
Riverside Poly HS vs. Hemet
Boys: Nicandro Rosas-(P)-17:31
Girls: Kalista Tibbels-(P)-20:11