Sarco not slowed by midseason setbacks

Gefry Sarco
El Rancho, Senior

Known for finishing with a flourish, Whittier Daily News All-Area Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year Gefry Sarco saved his best kick for the end of his senior season.
Sapped of strength and endurance by a midseason illness, the El Rancho senior sat out the Whittier Narrows Invitational. And that lost training time probably cost him a chance at winning the Del Rio League final, where he finished a distant third.
“It was a tough period,” Sarco admitted, “but you know whatever happens, you have to go through training to help the team. … It wasn’t easy, but fortunately I had my team there to help me out.”
Once CIF-SS competition began, however, Sarco found his groove. Finally back in shape, he was 10th in his heat at the Division 1 preliminaries and qualified for the final. And with a chance to both medal and advance to the state meet, Sarco turned in his best performance of the year. He ran a personal-best of 15:15 on the 2.92-mile course at Mt. SAC, finishing in 15th place.
That meant both a CIF medal for Sarco and one of five state meet berths reserved for runners from non-qualifying teams.
“That course is amazing,” Sarco remembered. “I didn’t think. I just ran with my heart, and everything else just followed through, fortunately.”
As the only area athlete to qualify for the state meet, Sarco finished 35th on the 5K course and set another personal-best for that distance, 15:52. He missed his goal of qualifying for the national meet, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“I knew going in it wasn’t gonna be easy,” Sarco said. “I was nervous … but I had fun running against the best California has to offer. I’m not disappointed with the way things turned out.”
“You can’t complain,” El Rancho coach Ty Wynn agreed. “You know you gave it your best if it’s the best you’ve ever done.”
Sarco has drawn some interest from four-year colleges, but hasn’t landed a scholarship offer yet. He’d like to stay in Southern California, and would love a chance to attend USC or UCLA.

Angelica De La Rosa

The challenges were many for Cal’s cross country team this season – the early season suspension of Tony DiMarco, who’d led the Condors to a second-place finish at the state meet just a season before, as well as a rash of injuries to key runners.
But Whittier Daily News All-Area Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year Angelica De La Rosa did a wonderful job keeping things headed in the right direction. With the help of assistant coach David Rojas and a strong group of seniors, Cal runners went 1-2 at the Del Rio League final and were 12th at the CIF-SS finals.
“The kids had a choice to quit or fight,” De La Rosa said, “and they chose to fight.”

Jorge Anzaldo
Schurr, Senior

Under Anzaldo’s guidance, the Spartans won their third consecutive Almont League championship and finished eighth at the ultra-competitive CIF-SS Division 1 preliminaries. After finishing third as a junior at the league final, Anzaldo ran 15:54 to claim the Almont League crown. “He worked his butt off over the summer,” Schurr coach Manuel Quintero said of Anzaldo’s improvement.

Samuel Bautista
Cal, Junior

Bautista was part of a corp group of experienced runners that overcame hurdles all season long for the Condors. He was consistently one of Cal’s top performers and displayed a strong work ethic in training. Bautista had impressive efforts in both Del Rio League cluster meets as well as the Mt. SAC Invitational, and he led the team at the CIF Preliminaries. At the Del Rio League final, Bautista finished in second place.

Thomas Browning
Schurr, Junior

Browning was the two-time Almont League frosh-soph champion, and he steadily improved for the varsity team as the season progressed. His third-place finish at the Almont League final (16:01) helped the Spartans claim the team championship. At the CIF-SS Division 1 preliminaries, Browning ran the Mt. SAC course in 16:34.

Ricardo Cano
Schurr, Junior

Cano consistently finished near the front for the Spartans after making the move from the frosh-soph team to the varsity this season. At about 5-foot-5, Cano’s path to success began with “heard work and dedication,” according to Quintero. “He put in the time over the summer.” Cano finished second at the Almont League final – part of a 1-2-3 Spartan sweep – in 15:56, and ran 16:50 at the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims.

Brian Ochoa
Whittier, Junior

Ochoa continued to improve over the course of his second varsity season, and his excellent endurance is a byproduct of an extremely competitive streak. “He sets big goals,” said Whittier coach Dan Whittington, “and he’s a hard worker.” Ochoa finished in fourth place at the Del Rio League final in 15:26, and he was 12th in his heat at the CIF-SS Division 2 preliminaries in 15:49.

Matlazomatli Rojas
Cal, Senior

Rojas placed third at the first Del Rio League cluster meet and second in the next, and he was ninth in his division at the Mt. SAC Invitational. But his best run of the season came at the Del Rio final, where he finished first in 15:12, over six seconds faster than the second-place runner. Rojas was sixth in his heat at the Division 1 preliminaries, and he placed 43rd at the final in 15:38.

Donald Brown
El Rancho, Freshman

Brown was a varsity youngster on a senior-heavy team, but more than held his own with the Del Rio League champions. Brown improved dramatically over the course of the season, eventually breaking 16:00 on the Mt. SAC course, and he was among the fastest freshman in the CIF-SS Division 1 final. At the Del Rio League final, Brown finished seventh in 15:47.

Brian Ault, Whittier Christian, Senior
Gustavo Diaz, Montebello, Freshman
Aleksie Dominguez, St. Paul, Junior
Christian Duran, La Serna, Junior
Andres Falcon, St. Paul, Sophomore
Daniel Garcia, Whittier, Senior
Rudy Gonzalez, Cal, Senior
Efren Hernandez, Montebello, Senior
Ben Lyzenga, La Habra, Junior
Jose Pacheco, Cal, Senior
Elias Powell, El Rancho, Senior
Rafael Ramirez, Whittier, Senior
Nathan Rangel, Montebello, Senior
Javier Rosas, Schurr, Senior
Salvador Salas, El Rancho, Senior
Brian Valencia, La Habra, Senior

Meet of the Year
CIF-SS Division 1 Final
Nov. 23, 2013

It wasn’t just a personal best that helped El Rancho’s Gefry Sarco qualify for the CIF State Meet in his final chance. It was a personal best of 27 seconds on Mt. SAC’s hilly 2.92-mile course. Sarco ran 15:10 and finished 15th overall, claiming one of five State Meet berths for runners not on a qualifying team. With his strong kick, he became the first El Rancho runner to qualify for state since 2006 and led the Dons to an 11th-place finish, one spot ahead of Del Rio League champion and rival Cal.

Top 10
1. El Rancho
2. Cal
3. Schurr
4. Whittier
5. La Habra
6. La Mirada
7. St. Paul
8. Santa Fe
9. La Serna
10. Montebello

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