ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Santa Fe, Senior
Julissa Tobias was completely in her element at the CIF-SS cross country preliminaries.
“I couldn’t stop smiling during the race,” said the Whittier Daily News All-Area Athlete of the Year. “I was just living in the moment. I was happy to be running with girls who love the same thing I do.”
Tobias runs for the simple joy of running, and has worked hard to improve by leaps and bounds since taking up cross country as a freshman.
“Ever since I was little,’” Tobias remembered, “I’ve loved running.”
She puts in between 40 and 45 miles a week – down from closer to 60 during the summer – and spends most Saturday mornings training in the hills around Whittier when she could be sleeping in.
“She’s a very dedicated, committed person,” said Santa Fe coach Phil Torres. “She has a good work ethic, and I think that’s the bottom line (to her success).
“… (Running) is what she enjoys.”
Tobias claimed this year’s Del Rio League championship after a third-place finish as a junior. Her performance last year boosted her confidence, and countless hours training with Santa Fe’s boys pushed Tobias to improve even more.
“That was a real eye-opener,” Torres said. “She realized she could run with those (elite) girls, she could run at the front of the pack.”
Pushed by a strong contingent from Whittier at the league final, Tobias completed the three-mile Legg Lake course in 18:35 to earn the championship, although she wasn’t completely pleased with her time or performance. She followed that by finishing 26th in her heat at the Division 1 prelims in 18:54, a personal-best on the difficult Mt. SAC course that may have also played a part in the smile on her face.
Tobias hasn’t received any scholarship offers yet, but some schools have shown early interest. Torres thinks she’ll become an excellent distance runner once she reaches college.
“The longer the distance,” he said, “the better.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Three measly points. That’s all that kept Whittier High from reaching the CIF-SS Division 2 final, a goal the team had set for itself at the beginning of the season.
“There definitely were some tears at the end of the season,” said Whittier Daily News All-Area Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year Dan Whittington, “but this was probably the hardet-working group I’ve coached. Their hard work paid off.”
With juniors Arianna Perez and Sophia Rodriguez, senior Wendy Dorantes and sophomore Brenda Dorantes leading the way, Whittington guided the Cardinals to a dominant performance in the Del Rio League. Next season, five of his top runners will return.
El Rancho, Sophomore
Colindres helped the Dons take second place in the Del Rio League with an excellent sophomore season. She finished in seventh place at the league final, covering the Legg Lake course in 19:04. At the CIF-SS Division 1 preliminaries at Mt. SAC, Colindres finished 35th in her heat with a time of 19:34 over the 2.92-mile course.
The younger Dorantes sibling is already a two-year varsity performer, and is “super talented,” according to Cardinals coach Dan Whittington. She overcame several injuries through the course of the season to finish fifth at the Del Rio League final. “She’s tough as nails,” Whittington said. Dorantes was 16th in her heat at the Division 2 preliminaries, completing the course in 18:59.
The older Dorantes sister was a trusted leader for Whittington on a relatively young team. “She’s someone I can always count on,” he said. “She’s very consistent, and she never complains.” Dorantes took fourth place at the Del Rio League final in 18:40, and was 25th in her heat at the Division 2 preliminaries in 19:23.
Navarro provided a calming and experienced presence for the Condors during a sometimes tumultuous season. She ran a personal-best at the Mt. SAC Invitational, and she was the first Cal runner to cross the finish at the Del Rio League final, placing eighth in 19:18. At the Division 1 preliminaries, Navarro posted a heat time of 19:22.
Perez possesses a combination of strength and speed, and she runs with a burning desire to win. “She loves to compete,” marveled Whittington. Perez was topped only by league champion and Athlete of the Year Julissa Tobias at the Del Rio League final, finishing the course in 18:37, 2 seconds back. At the Division 2 preliminaries, Perez finished 28th in her heat in 19:34.
Rodriguez was Whittier’s most consistent runner over the course of the season, and its most skilled when running hilly courses. She was also what Whittington called a “quiet leader” for the Cardinals. Rodriguez was third at the Del Rio League final in 18:38, and she ran 19:06 in the Division 2 preliminaries to finish 18th in her heat.
Cynthia Carabes, Whittier, Senior
Stephanie Cortez, Cal, Junior
Melegin Flores, Montebello, Sophomore
Sabrina Gomez, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Junior
Christina Gonzalez, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Senior
Melissa Gutierrez, El Rancho, Junior
Samantha Huerta, La Mirada, Junior
Corey Luna, La Habra, Senior
Dana Navarette, Schurr, Sophomore
Marlysha Nicolaides, Schurr, Junior
Sabrina Padilla, Montebello, Sophomore
Fatima Patino, Schurr, Junior
Krystal Serna, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Senior
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Whittier Christian, Freshman
Baray put together a solid debut season for the Heralds, including victory in the freshman division at the Whittier Narrows Invitational. Baray took fourth place at the Olympic League final and completed her season with a top-25 finish in her heat at the CIF-SS Division 4 preliminaries. Baray completed the Mt. SAC course in 20:21.
MEET OF THE YEAR
Del Rio League final
Nov. 7, 2013
If you blinked, you may have missed it. Whittier High proved its dominance of the Del Rio League in a span that lasted less than 5 seconds, when Cardinal runners finished 2-3-4-5 and essentially clinched the league crown. Junior Arianna Perez (18:37) was runner-up to Santa Fe’s Julissa Tobias, and she was followed by Sophia Rodriguez (18:38), Wendy Dorantes (18:40) and Brenda Dorantes (18:42). Whittier’s first five runners totaled only 23 points, less than half of second-place El Rancho.
2. El Rancho
5. Santa Fe
6. La Serna
7. St. Paul
8. Cantwell-Sacred Heart
9. La Mirada