News and Announcements
We just got word that Jocelynn Stevenson was accepted into the United States Air Force Academy! This has been a life-long goal of Jocelynn’s and the process of applying and proving oneself to be granted enrollment is long and arduous. (Applicants have to get a recommendation from their Congress Member following an interview with him or her, they have to pass a physical fitness exam on top of their high school academic credentials)
Jocelynn will follow in the footsteps of a number of King XC alums who went on to one of the US Academies:
Brian Green (2020): Coast Guard
Mariah Ngo (2019): Navy
Andrew Boebinger (2016): Air Force
Chris Villanueva (2009): Air Force
There’s an old cliché that goes, “All’s well that ends well.”
In this year of pandemic, quarantine and a nasty virus that has littered the last year with so much uncertainty and upended high school sports, the cross country teams entered their delayed season last November with far more questions than answers. Even as they were poised to start competing, COVID intervened yet again and pushed the first race back by yet another month.
But they finally did start racing in early February and despite a season of differences and disappointments (the post-season CIF Championships, for one, was cancelled last month) when it ended on Saturday against Santiago, the King teams came away with hard-fought victories and the boys earned the Big 8 league title.
And just for good measure, the face off with the Sharks turned out to be the best two races of the season.
Both Santiago and King were undefeated on the boys’ side and the race would decide the champion. In a pre-race computer mock-up, the two teams were tied. But you don’t race in a computer, and so the Sharks and Wolves would race — and race hard — on terrain to determine the winner.
In a very exciting contest, the two teams matched place for place over the first six spots. Francisco Zavaleta (Sr) closed strong over the third mile, gapping Evan Hild (Jr) of Santiago to conclude his undefeated season. He became the first King runner to earn the individual league title (and MVP) since Lane Werley did it last in 2010 and 2009.
“I knew I was going up against someone faster than me” Francisco said, with a respectful nod to a time Hild notched earlier in the season against Roosevelt. “So I had to play it smart … after passing him, I kept an adequate distance (between us) for him to tire out, but not for me to burn out.” It worked, as he sprinted home with a course record of 15:17, earned the title and started the scoring train for King.
Edgar Ortega (Sr) was next for King in third, and closed his stellar career with his fastest ever 3 mile time at 15:30. “I believe that I really put everything I could to finish on a high note, just fought hard but not for me, in all honesty, that last mile was for my team.”
Gray Mavhera (Jr) was next, in 5th place, a key scoring spot that kept King through the first three scorers ahead by 3 points. “It was stressful” Gray said later, of the knowledge that both teams had their eyes on the title and one last chance to get it. “I gave the team a pep talk and told them all to just race your heart out and that’s what we did.”
Jack Slavin (So) got the message and ran his best race of the season, finishing sprawled out on the other side of the finish line in exhaustion. At the half-way mark, the talented sophomore was behind a large group from Santiago but was able to break free and beat all but one of his opponents, finishing 7th. Bohdin Rush(Sr) saved his best race for last. Never has he scored in a varsity race, until today. And while six Santiago runners were ahead of him, it was his gritty effort that anchored the final scoring spot and put King into the win, 27-29. Jonathan Weaver (Sr) and Julian Morgan (Jr) were 6th and 7th for King.
It was a close race, and the first league title for King since 2015. “You really couldn’t tell who the winner was” said Ortega. “As soon as we found out we won, the excitement on everyone’s faces was bright. “this honestly feels better to me than any PR because we all contributed, for months and months.”
The girls’ race, which preceded the boys, had high stakes resting on it as well. Santiago, the defending league champions, and King entered at 3-1, so the race was for second place in the conference. Like the boys, both teams were evenly matched and both teams knew it could come down to one point.
Well, it came down to two points, and King would ultimately secure the win with a 27-29 score. Their attack differed from the boys, as they clumped up the front spots in the race, taking 2-3-4. Audrey Brunken concluded her breakout season with the runner-up spot, followed closely by Andrea Guadian and then Justine Marshall who closed furiously over the last mile to flip a spot with an opponent.
“Sometimes you just know when you need a point” she said after race, referencing a spot with a half-mile to go when she was told by this coach that her team was 1 point up and her position critical. “I know” she mouthed as she went by.
Evenie Fuentes improved on the course by 39 seconds and was 7th overall. “I knew this race was the race to put it all out there and give it everything I had, so the results were a sweet reward” she commented later.
King’s 5th would be Andreya Goodson,(So) who employed a new strategy which paid dividends with her fastest time of the year on the course and secured the win for the Wolves. Two freshmen – Leah Pendleton and Kaylee Magno were in King’s top 7 and 14 girls ran PR’s on the day.
“Everyone raced extremely well” Justine said. “We were so blessed to have Santiago as our competition for our last race.”
Audrey added praise, saying “I’m so proud of everyone, especially all the freshmen and rookies. Everyone raced their heart out and it was a great way to end the season.”
Such exploits in both races may have seemed unlikely a few months ago. Months and months – to use Edgar’s words – have gone by, and most were full of challenges and disappointments to overcome. But with great fortitude, these kids found a way.
And while it may be cliché, it is true nonetheless: No matter what the past looked like, all’s well that ends well.
EASTVALE: Under blue skies on Saturday, the cross country teams took on the blue-clad Norco Cougars on Saturday. It was the 4th of 5 Big 8 League dual meets and contested on Eleanor Roosevelt’s campus course.
The Wolves raced well despite lacking the drama of competition, as Norco could not field a scoring girls squad, and King’s boys swept, 15-50.
It was the clock and each other that served up the competition for the boys, as King would put the first 9 places across the line. Gray Mavhera, who has been exceptionally consistent this season while steadily improving, had another excellent race, coming very close to his season personal record (PR) set on the same course two weeks ago. He finished just steps behind the race winner, Francisco Zavaleta who won in a time of 15:43. Jonathan Weaver also ran a PR to finish fifth for the Wolves, as did Bohdin Rush, Michael Rodriguez, Bryson Pradia and freshman Gavin Moore.
The girls ran their second league race in a row in which their opponent could not put the minimum number (5) of harriers on the line to score. So, it was King vs. King in a way, which, given the gracious and supportive nature of the team, makes it a friendly competition. Audrey Brunken and Andrea Guadian continued their front running, with Brunken gaining the win by just a few steps. Evenie Fuentes looked really solid in third with a season-best time of 19:43.
The sixth through ninth place finishers all had PR’s on the day, with Victoria Gonzalez, Gardemia Sandoval, Jazz Arroyo and Emely Ruiz all under their previous bests, while Jazz and Emely put together a spirited kick over the last 100 meters, side by side.
Samantha Torres, Grace Lowry and Stephanie Ortiz also put together PR performances.
The final race will go off next Saturday on the King High campus. The boys at 4-0 will go against Santiago who is also at 4-0. The winner will be the league champion.
Both girls squads stand at 3-1 in league, so the Sharks and Wolves will race to decide the league runner up behind the league champions, E. Roosevelt.
If this penultimate meet was missing a level of intensity, next week should make up for it.
Evenie Fuentes joined up with the cross country team at the start of her sophomore year and immediately established her chops as a driven, hard working and tough athlete. She hit the ground running – pun intended – and the coaching staff quickly learned that it would be less about inspiring Evenie to work hard, but rather how to keep her from working too hard.
Indeed, that insatiable drive led to some injuries early on that sent her on an equally driven focus on rehabbing and healing. Tears and frustration were her companion at times, but defeat never shadowed her door. For every downturn, she would turn up with a new resolve, a renewed focus on the next chapter of her emerging story of inspiration. Of late, she’s used that fortitude to push through a year of Covid delays and is contributing mightily to the success of this year’s team.
In the classroom, she has penned an academic story that is just as successful as her athletic endeavors. In AP and honors classes, excellence became the exclamation mark of lines she penned with the calligraphy of grace and grit.
Evenie’s story at ML King and in cross country is one that’s inspiring and still being penned. We have a feeling it’s gonna end well.
The Martin Luther King Athletic Department has, for almost 10 years, had a “Character Counts, Victory with Honor” campaign during each sport season of the year. Coaches are asked to select athletes who embody that CIF motto and are highlighted on campus visually. In that we are not on campus this year (so far) displaying our student-athletes will be on the web only.
Jonathan is the boys’ selection for cross country:
When Jonathan Weaver chose to join the cross country team back in his sophomore year, little did we know what a gift we were getting in this young man. He was, and is, a combination of great athleticism and abundant character.
Jonathan, who had run the sprint events in track his freshmen year, decided to run a bit farther than 400 meters as a sophomore. Remarkably, he made the transition to distance running seamlessly and was quickly adding to his strength and endurance. He became one that the coaching staff could always count on to give 100% in workouts, pushing and testing himself when asked to. The improvement that came with that effort was quick and consistent … and fun to watch!
But more than just simply running well, Jonathan brought to cross country a character and integrity that drew his new teammates (and coaches) to him. Keeping pace with his work ethic in practice and passionate race day performances was a kindness and quality of spirit that had the ability to lift the team to a higher plane. He is coachable, cares about his teammates and the team and has always been a great representative of the team and the school. His positive attitude and presence, simply put, made the team better.
Jonathan Weaver will graduate this May and will leave a legacy of hard work and integrity, and for that we are immensely grateful.