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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Ortega wins small schools' cross-country race, Viking boys take second as a team


Last updated 4/24/2018 at 12:06am

Seven small elementary schools in northern San Diego County and southern Riverside County participate in tournaments throughout the year with each school hosting a different sport. When five of those schools convened in Anza for the March 22 cross country meet, Vallecitos Elementary School sixth-grader Edgar Ortega won the boys race, and the Vallecitos boys placed second as a team.

Cross country team scores are derived by adding the positions of a school’s first five finishers, so a minimum of five runners are needed for a team score. An injury forced one of the Vallecitos girls to withdraw from the race, so the Vikings only had four runners in the girls race and did not receive a team score; however, Vallecitos seventh-grader Kelsey Rossi was the second finisher in the girls’ competition.

The meet had been scheduled for March 15, but it was postponed due to rain, which gave the Vikings an extra week of training.

“That helped,” Vallecitos coach Ray Hanbeck said.

The schools last met for a basketball tournament, Feb. 15, at Borrego Elementary School, giving the Vallecitos student-athletes four scheduled weeks of cross-country training. The weather postponement allowed for a fifth week of training, although not all of the days were conducive to running.

“It was hard to get in training because of the rain,” Hanbeck said.

The cross country meet began 10 a.m. and was not affected by the March 22 rainfall other than by non-precipitation elements of the storm.

“You could see the clouds were coming in and it was very windy then and it was cold,” Hanbeck said.

Hamilton Elementary School hosted the meet, and since that school is adjacent to Hamilton High School, the high school track was used for the start and finish of the race. The course was 2 miles for both the boys and the girls.

Ortega won the boys race in 12 minutes, 31 seconds.

“He’s a very talented special runner,” Hanbeck said.

“He’s very smart in being able to pace himself,” Hanbeck said. “He knows how to choose the time to do his kick.”

Ortega thus did not lead early in the race.

“He let the other ones get by,” Hanbeck said.

Halfway through the race, Ortega trailed the leader by approximately 20 yards. The final 100 yards of the race included an uphill run before concluding on the high school track.

The second-place finisher, Hamilton eighth-grader Ignacio Martinez, had a time of 12:54. “It was excellent,” Hanbeck said of Ortega’s 23-second margin of victory.

Nine Vallecitos boys competed in the race. Sixth place was achieved by Vallecitos sixth-grader Angel Anaya, who had a time of 13:55. Seventh-grader Mario Romero completed the course in 13:56 for seventh place. Ivan Franco posted a time of 15:44, which was worth 14th place for the seventh-grader. A time of 15:58 gave sixth-grader Armando Yanez 16th place. Yahir Hernandez was the first Vallecitos fifth-grader across the finish line, taking 19th place overall with a time of 16:14. Sixth-grader Rodrigo Anaya finished 20th at 16:27. Seventh-grader Pedro Madrigal completed the course in 16:29 for 22nd place. The Vikings’ final two finishers are both fifth-graders; Andrew Garcia had the 26th-place time of 17:34 and Fabian Diaz earned 27th place with a 17:36 performance.

Hamilton won the team portion of the boys’ race with Pauma Elementary School taking third place.

Rossi had a time of 14:30, which was 28 seconds slower than the first girl across the finish line.

“She did very well,” Hanbeck said.

It appeared not to be the case midway through the race.

“She seemed to be struggling. She seemed to be tiring out,” Hanbeck said. “She must have got that second wind and really kicked it in the last part of the race.”

The tenth-place girls finisher was Vallecitos fourth-grader Yamilee Rico, who had a time of 18:00. Sixth-grader Tiffany Hernandez finished in 20:26 for 22nd place and sixth-grader Cheyenne Crowe had the 23rd-place time of 20:43.

Hamilton won the girls race, Cottonwood School in Aguanga placed second and Pauma was third.

The next tournament will take place at Warner Elementary School in Warner Springs; the schools will play softball, April 19, if no weather postponement is required.


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