Jennifer Sandoval liked the sport first, then realized it could be the means to an end.
Sandoval, the standout cross country and track and field runner, signed Friday with San Jose State.
“I felt like it was the right fit for me because … I got along well with the team,” she said. “I saw how their atmosphere was and their work ethic, and I really liked that.”
Sandoval was the Daily Bulletin runner of the year and a first-team runner for The Sun last cross country season when she finished fourth overall in Division II at the CIF State Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno. She completed the course with a time of 17 minutes, 32.8 seconds.
Sandoval said she had several scholarship offers, but wanted a full scholarship, which many of them were not willing to give. In the end, it was between San Jose State and Azusa Pacific.
“I know I’m going to need to get faster, I want to run three miles in the 16s,” she said. “So I’ll be OK when I run the longer distances in college.”
Not only does she expect to run cross country for the Spartans, she said she said in track she could run the 5,000 meter, 10,000 meter and/or 3,000 meter steeplechase.
Many of the top San Bernardino cross country teams will be to the Woodbridge Invitational at Orange County Great Park.
Unlike most invitationals, Woodbridge is run in the late afternoon and evening, featuring the girls rated and girls sweepstakes races at 8:54 and 9:34 p.m. and the boys rated and boys sweepstakes races at 9:14 and 9:54 p.m.
Chino Hills, Serrano and Yucaipa are in the boys rated race while Ayala, Bloomington, Colony and Rancho Cucamonga are in the boys sweepstakes.
Girls rated teams include Chino Hills, Colony, and Rancho Cucamonga, while girls sweepstakes teams include Ayala and Serrano.
The Serrano girls are currently ranked second in CIF-SS Division 2, but will not have a chance to compete against No. 1 Saugus in the meet. However, a good showing, including facing CIF-SS Division 1 No. 1 Temecula Great Oak, could move the Diamondbacks up to No. 1.
The county will also be represented by three girls running as individuals in the sweepstakes race: Sultana’s Stefani Gaskell, Citrus Valley’s Claire Graves and Summit’s Jennifer Sandoval.
Above, Claire Graves, now a junior at Citrus Valley talks about winning her race in the last Yucaipa Invitational, two years ago.
In speaking with Yucaipa cross country coach Jason Carney, I found out that for the second straight year, the Yucaipa Invitational, one of the better invitationals in San Bernardino County annually, will not be held.
Traditionally, it was held around the first Saturday in October. Last year it was cancelled because construction in the hills next to Yucaipa High where the course has been made it impossible to run an invitational.
This year, it’s the same issue. Last year, they had originally scheduled the invitational before telling teams they had to cancel. This year, they didn’t even schedule it. And Carney doesn’t plan on having it back.
Once a meet has been cancelled for two years, it’s hard to get those teams back. An initial concern was how would the program make up for the funds the Invitational brought? As it turned out, just fine, he said. They had a couple of more fundraisers, and were not lacking in money. The invitational weekend is a stressful one for Carney and he’d just as soon not have it back. At least, he won’t be spearheading the drive to bring it back. He didn’t rule out others trying to bring it back.
As was the case last year, Yucaipa will still host Citrus Belt League finals, but at the Regional Park.
Big Bear senior Caleb Webb, after winning the CIF State Division 4 cross country title in November, has been selected to be part of the Team USA Junior National Team.
Webb will leave next week for Ediburgh, Scotland, where he will compete with five teammates with team USA against teams from Great Britain and Eastern Europe, Webb said. He also said it is an under-19 team, so his teammates are all in high school or in college.
Team USA will be competing in the Great Edinburgh XCountry on Jan. 10.
“I didn’t know about this until a few weeks ago,” Webb said. “This is my first time out of the country.”
2014 Sunkist All-League Cross Country
All league boys
Federico Juarez, Bloomington
Marcos Guillen, Fontana
Gerardo Vazquez, Bloomington
Alejandro Mariscal, Bloomington
Christian Vera, Bloomington
Angel Parga, Bloomington
Osar Saavedra, Grand Terrace
Alex Diaz, Bloomington
Jared Baca, Grand Terrace
Alejandro Jimenez, Bloomington
All league girls:
Jennifer Sandoval, Summit
Michelle Pineda, Fontana
Krystal Padilla, Kaiser
Sinai Martinez, Fontana
Nissa Inzunza, Grand Terrace
Cecilia Magana, Bloomington
Lauren Silvey, Summit
Mirella Rodriguez, Fontana
Celine Montano, Grand Terrace
Daisy Lopez, Kaiser
Claire Graves, above, talks after the 2013 Foot Locker West race
Citrus Valley sophomore Claire Graves still has one more race in her high school cross country season.
After finishing seventh at last Saturday’s Foot Locker West Regional at Mt. San Antonio College, Graves advanced to this Saturday’s Foot Locker National Championships at San Diego’s Balboa Park.
Last year, on a sloppy, wet day, she finished 21st at the West Regional, while this year, she finished the five kilometer course in seventh place. The top 10 advance.
“I wasn’t prepared to run in mud,” said of last year’s race. “My shoes weren’t proper for that.”
This year, with the weather more favorable, she focused on finishing in the top 10, rather than a time.
“I wasn’t worried about my time. Usually, I’m a front-runner, but I didn’t want to go out super-fast,” she said.
But, last week was on a course with which she was very familiar. This one will be new.
“I have friends who have run that course,” she said. “It’s fairly flat. I’m not too worried. I’m hoping to come in the top 15 and end the season on a good note.”
Other top county runners ran at Foot Locker West, including Sultana’s Stefani Gaskell, who was 22nd (19:12.4),
The Nike Nationals were also run last week, in Portland, Ore. and Big Bear’s Caleb Webb was third in 15:21, while Jurupa Hills was 10th, led by Devon Reed, who was 31st overall (15:54).
With 113 races spread out over two days, the high school portion of the Mt. SAC Invitational for cross country, set for Friday and Saturday, has plenty of racing to go around.
TX Body: The elite races are the sweepstakes races, divided into different divisions.
TX Body: But the top teams aren’t necessarily in the sweepstakes races, and even if they are, they aren’t necessarily in the division they would normally belong in.
TX Body: For instance, Big Bear is in Division 4, but defending Sun Runner of the Year Caleb Webb is running instead in the Division 1 and 2 individual sweepstakes at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, while the rest of his team runs in the Division 4 sweepstakes at 4:25 p.m. Friday. Division 3, 4 and 5 races are Friday, while Division 1 and 2 are Saturday. Varsity sweepstakes run from about 4:05-6 p.m. Friday and 8:45-10 a.m. Saturday.
TX Body: On the girls’ side, the Nos. 2 and 4 ranked teams in San Bernardino County, Yucaipa and Citrus Valley, respectively, will be competing, but neither one will be in sweepstakes races.
TX Body: Other San Bernardino County teams in sweepstakes races includes: Big Bear girls (Division 4), Yucca Valley boys (5), Ontario Christian boys (5), Victor Valley boys (3), Rancho Cucamonga girls (1 & 2 individual), Ayala boys and girls (1 & 2 team), Jurupa Hills boys (1 & 2 team), and Serrano girls (1 & 2 team).
TX Body: Yucaipa girls are scheduled to compete in a Division 1 varsity race at 10:46 a.m. Saturday, and the Citrus Valley girls are in a Division 2 varsity race at 3:56 p.m. Saturday.
TX Body: Yucaipa coach Jason Carney said via text message that when entries were due two weeks ago, he didn’t think his girls team was ready for sweepstakes. Citrus Valley coach Bryan Haddock said his team had initially been told it would be in a sweepstakes race.
You can see videos above of two of the top San Bernardino County runners on Saturday at the Inland Empire Challenge: Alta Loma’s Koby Pederson, who was third in the boys sweepstakes and Serrano’s Kelly Fairchild, who was third in the girls sweepstakes.
I’ve covered this event several times over the years and the organizers, which include Alta Loma’s Rich Morales and Rancho Cucamonga’s Terry Tierney (and formerly included former Rancho Cucamonga girls coach Mark Cushman), bill it as a battle between the counties and to crown county champions.
They know it’s not really determining who is best in each county. They’ve tried hard to get more of the top schools from the two counties to commit. The problem is, it’s also the same weekend as the Clovis Invitational, run on the same Woodward Park course that hosts the state meet.
So, programs that are among the top 10 in the county perennially, such as Yucaipa and Ayala don’t go to the Inland Empire Challenge. Many of the top Riverside County teams also don’t come for the same reason.
Serrano coach Ken Quinn said he would love sometime to have his teams go to Clovis, but they can’t afford it. And he loves the IE Challenge, because as he says, “it’s closer than some of our league meets.”
He’d love to see the IE Challenge moved to the third Saturday in October, the same weekend as the Orange County Championships, because there would be fewer conflicts for San Bernardino County schools.
It will continue to be a great event, regardless. But to be true championships for both counties, something needs to change.