SEELEY — The first completed sport during this COVID-shortened school year has come to an end with the running of the Imperial Valley League Cross Country Championships at Sunbeam Lake Park on Saturday, March 20.
The IVL cross-country season was the first to start, with dual meets beginning on Feb. 20. Now, with Saturday’s championships, it is the first to be completed as there is no CIF-San Diego Section championship meet planned due to the pandemic.
The IVL championships take the top-15 runners from the dual-meet season and combine them into one race. Placing in the top 10 at the IVL championships earns an athlete the All-IVL designation.
In the girls’ race, Brawley Union High senior Jaasiel Contreras was crowned IVL champion with her time of 20 minutes, 37.50 seconds over the 3.1-mile course. The IVL champion on the boys’ side is Holtville senior Alan Jimenez, who finished Saturday’s race in 15 minutes, 58.39 seconds.
“Today wasn’t my best run, but I made the best of it and did what I could,” said the 18-year-old Jimenez, who set the IVL course record a week prior with a time of 15 minutes, 40 seconds. “I give myself a C or a C-plus for today’s race. The hills got me a little bit, and I wasn’t feeling great.”
For not feeling great, Jimenez still won by nearly 80 seconds as the second-place runner was Central Union senior Michael Zuniga (17:17.36).
The rest of the All-IVL selections were: Central senior Pedro Carrion (17:37.54), Imperial senior Aidan Vargas (17:38.47), Southwest sophomore Miguel Ramirez (17:50.71), Southwest sophomore Steven Gomez (17:55.79), Calexico senior Ricardo Campos (18:07.44), Central senior Edgar Mendez (18:13.58), Calexico senior Federico Felix (18:25.06), and Imperial senior Victor Paniagua (18:27.34).
“I was feeling a little bit nervous before the race and a little bit overwhelmed because I knew this was my last race,” said the Bulldogs’ Campos. “It was emotional, and I just told myself to leave it all out there and not have any ‘What ifs?’”
The girls’ race was more contested than the boys, with six runners coming within a minute of Contreras, including Southwest junior Sidney Garcia (20:43.00), who was just six seconds behind the Brawley senior.
The rest of the All-IVL runners were: Calexico junior Briana Gallegos (20:58.17), Holtville freshman Lillian Strahm (21:09.36), Central senior Clarissa Gonzales (21:11.02), Imperial junior Natalie Lopez (21:22.90), Brawley senior Julitza Alvarez (21:26.46), Imperial sophomore Angelique Graham (22:22.25), Calexico senior Madison Longton (22:42.55), and Calexico junior Andrea Garcia (22:52.30).
“When I woke up today I was feeling lazy, but when we got here I was really excited and nervous,” said the Bulldogs’ Gallegos, who set a personal-best time by close to 30 seconds. “It was a really good race for me. I wanted to get in the top five, and I ended up in the top three.”