Pali High Boys Third, Girls Fourth in City Cross Country Championships at Pierce College
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
For members of the Palisades High boys cross country team the most anxious moments of last Saturday morning’s City Section Championships did not occur on the course, but in the 20 minutes that followed as the Dolphins waited for what seemed like an eternity to find out if they had qualified for the state finals.
When the scores were posted Pali High runners consoled each other and vowed to come back even stronger next year upon learning they’d finished third—just missing out on a trip to Fresno. Palisades’ average time was 16:01.35 on the hilly three-mile switchback course at Pierce College and when the top five runners’ scores for each team were tabulated after the Division I race, the Dolphins totaled 66 points. San Pedro prevailed with 53 points, edging second-place Marshall by two points, although both schools qualified for the state meet at Woodward Park.
Pali High junior Lucas Schriver was amongst the leaders the whole way and was third behind El Camino Real’s James Zavala Sanchez and San Pedro’s Max Arroyo heading up the final hill with about a quarter of a mile to go. The first runner to emerge on the other side was Arroyo, whose final kick got him to the finish line first in 15:36.50. Schriver was right behind in 15:38.23 and San Pedro’s Anthony Martinez (15:41.38) overtook a tiring Zavala Sanchez for third place.
“I had a stomach cramp the whole time—I’m not sure if it’s because I drank too much water before or didn’t drink enough but I was trying to stick with the leaders and fight through to the end,” said Schriver, who had posted the fastest overall time at the prelims seven days earlier. “I didn’t feel anything until after about the first 100 meters or so when the adrenaline died down. I was hoping to break 15:30 but a PR (personal record) is still a PR, so I’m happy with that.”
Schriver did not run in the finals last year when the Dolphins took fourth with 85 points. He was 19th as a freshman with a time of 16:34.27. Palisades’ Ben Hamer and Brent Smith finished second and third that year as the Dolphins finished second behind El Camino Real and qualified for the state meet. This time, they came up a little short.
“I knew a couple of the guys would take it out hard and set the pace and we started to pick it up the last half mile,” Schriver added. “Max started his kick earlier. At the end I just wanted to hold onto second.”
Qualifying for state as an individual along with Schriver was fellow junior Brett Bailey, who finished 10th in 15:59.38. Rounding out Palisades’ lineup were Noah Wexler (16th in 16:06.71), Alec Schmitt (18th in 16:09.30) and Jeremy Santiago (20th in 16:13.09), Hunter Steinman (47th in 17:23.09) and Pablo Sandoval-Rivas (54th in 17:34.34).
Granada Hills was heavily favored to win the Division I girls race and the Highlanders did just that led by sophomore Sofia Abrego, who repeated as champion in 18:03.53. Pali High senior captain Sarah Bentley took third for the second straight year in 18:25.20 and earned her fourth trip to the state finals—the only Dolphins runner to qualify.
Palisades placed fourth in the team standings with 110 points, snapping its string of seven consecutive state finals appearances.
“I felt pretty good today,” said Bentley, who finished eighth overall her freshman year when the Dolphins won City, ran despite being sick to help her team finish second in 2017 and was third in 18:11 last fall. I fought hard with [runner-up] Shana Mendelsohn [of El Camino Real], but she was stronger at the end. I love going to state and it’ll be weird without my teammates but I’m proud of how everyone did.”
Palisades’ other runners were all underclassmen: Sydney Suh (19th in 20:24.28); Layla Adeli (27th in 20:58.99); Scarlett Klein (29th in 21:04.38); Caily Galvez (36th in 21:27:28), Julia Musumeci (46th in 22:12.51); and Genessi Lizama (56th in 22:35.96).