Inland Empire Challenge Recap


Alil Washington, Staff Writer

Now that the team is back from being up north it’s time for them to run at Cucamonga- Guasti Regional Park known as The IE Challenge Meet. The coverage of this whole meet breaks down all the first-place, victory moments, setting personal records, and even running better on a past-tense setback.

With the first race underway, we have the freshman lady sharks kicking and finalizing their team’s placement on a positive note. As they ranked themselves 1st place out of six other schools they competed against. The lady sharks finished into a 1,2,3,4 combo as the was ending, causing them to gain the least amount of points. The ladies who finished in this 1,2,3,4 combo method were ninth graders Kinsley Whitecavage, Lauren Reightley, Jaela Jaffe, and Kate Lee. Once the race was accounted for I was able to catch up with Kinsley Whitecavage (9) and Lauren Reightley (9) the top 2 leaders of this combo, and they were able to fill me in on how they felt mentally running this course: Kinsley Whitecavage (9) – “I think we just had to get out in front as a team and stay close. while I was running, I knew I had to work hard and keep running knowing my teammates were behind me. I had trust that we were all working together and pushing one another to finish 1,2,3,4.”, Lauren Reightley (9) – “During the Inland Empire race, I focused on running more aggressively than I did at my last race. Although I did decently in the race before, my coach wanted me to sprint out less passively at the start, stay strong and push myself more during the race. The weather was really nice and I enjoyed the course, so it was easy to stay positive throughout the race. My goal was not to let Kinsley get too far ahead of me, and she helped me push my pace. Halfway through the race, I was thinking about Jaela passing the two Rancho Cucamonga girls I had passed earlier. I looked back a few times to make sure she did. Based on how far ahead she was, I was hoping Kate would be able to pass them as well.”

This really shows these two girls were definitely ambitiously hungry to get that placement that they deserved. Now it’s time to flip over to the freshman boys’ side of the Santiago XC team. In this race, we had six freshman boys representing their team. The person who took the rep and led these boys was no other than Jackson Cunanan(9). He finalized his placement as 3rd overall out of 88 runners in this race and had a time of 17:00.8 for this course. What makes this moment special is he set an outstanding personal record and became a leader running amongst his peers in this race. Knowing that he is a freshman shows there will definitely be more progression coming out of him. Jackson Cunanan (9) gave me an insight into how he felt post-race, Running this course for the first time and placing 3rd overall while just being a freshman helped me gain confidence in running races, knowing that I can make top 3. It was also the first time that I had made the top 3 in the season and I think that placing well in the Inland Empire Challenge helped me do well mentally when I run Mt. SAC.” Also, these freshman boys were about to place 5th overall out of seven schools.

Next up, we have the sophomore girls running against 4 other schools. These ladies were able to set the team as 3rd place overall out of five schools in total. Brooklyn Earle(10) was indeed able to lead this sophomore ladies back while obtaining 18th place out of 66 runners. After finalizing that race it was time to see the dynamic sophomore boys squad for this race. Brandon Fonseca (10), Alijah Cox (10), and Jett Blake (10) were all able to finish in a 1,2,3 combo leading their side of the team to 1st place out of 11 schools in their race. All 3 of these guys were able to settle down and tell me what their contribution meant towards the team, Brandon Fonseca(10)- “We work harder!”Alijah Cox (10)-  “It shows how far we’ve come in the improvement and how we push ourselves to become better”, and Jett Blake (10)- “ It shows how great we will be for what’s to come.” Seeing these boys push each other in the race is really the definition of what working together looks like. 

The girl’s sweepstakes race was led by none other than the phenomenal sophomore Rylee Blade(10), she was coming in at 16:55.9 for the final time on this course. Overall the Santiago varsity lady sharks got 2nd place out of eleven other schools. Now coming over to the boy’s varsity side they competed very well in their sweepstakes race. Van Filek(12) and Dylan DeLoyola(12) were both going neck to neck against each other in this race. Van Filek(12) took 2nd and Dylan DeLoyola(12) secured 3rd, and the time difference amongst each other was only a 15-second gap. Another positive note is they took 1st place overall out of eight other schools in total.

Ending with the JV race for the boy’s side. Shabach Karathi(12) came back even harder from his setback at Dana Hills Invitational. Shabach Karathi had a final time of 16:12.8 and won the JV race. Post-race he gave us insight on how he felt about learning from his setback moment Feels good to win the inland empire race I was in. I’ve been putting in the work in practice and I’m pretty sure my race showed that.” It’s definitely a heart-filled moment to see that he didn’t let his past mistakes define him as a runner, and created a solution to come back even harder when the opportunity arose again. Last race, we had the JV girls who did an outside performance. They ended up placing themselves in 1st place out of four positions. Josselyn Palacios(10) fought through this course all the way and ended with a final time of 20:41.0. She gave us her perspective on her performance within the race: “Racing alongside my teammates at the Inland Empire course was a joy and made the whole experience even better. I’m happy and proud to have helped our team score very well by placing for us. Having my teammates out there on the course helped me navigate my way and lead off and on with them. Between strategizing and preparing through workouts, eating healthily, drinking a proper amount of water, and taking vitamins, my performance was good!” Josselyn Palacios definitely prepared herself well to run in this race today!

With everything covered up, it is safe to say that the Santiago Cross-Country team secured the win for today all around. It’s time to hold their celebratory moment for a bit and get prepared to run at Mt.Sac Invitational next weekend.