News and Announcements
November 26, 2023
FRESNO: Fresno is a city in the Central Valley of California and known primarily as an agricultural hub. For cross country runners however, Fresno is the Promised Land every Thanksgiving weekend as the State Championship is held there on the historic course at Woodward Park.
The only catch in that metaphor is that racing at State is never promised; teams and individuals have to earn their spot on the line, making it the elite meet of the year.
The boys from King were one of those team after putting together a masterful season under the guidance of head coach Alfonso Ibarra. After finishing sixth at the Southern Section Finals a week ago, the team headed north with the hopes of equaling or bettering that place when competing against the best from all 10 CIF Sections. Their 6th-place State D1 ranking (link) seemed to indicate that possibility.
But teams don’t race in pixels, they lace up the racing shoes and hit the hallowed trails of Woodward Park, and after 5k (3.1 miles) of torrid racing the 21 teams on the line are officially sorted out. (29 non-scoring individuals from 29 schools are mixed into the field as well.)
Martin Luther King High sorted out 10th.
Coach Ibarra was “extremely proud” of the group. “We wanted to run 10-15 seconds faster (per man) than we did when we raced (the same course) at the Clovis Invitational and they definitely completed that task.”
The team ran their best race of the year. Maximo Zavaleta finished 7th overall, earning All State honors in the process. His 15:07 time was a Woodward Park course personal record (PR), and he pulled a train of teammates behind him who all ran their own PR’s on the course. Collectively the top 5 racers ran a team time of 1:19:36 which set the all time school record for a 5K course, eclipsing by 20 seconds the 2015 team that was the last King squad to compete at State.
Bradley Quezada had another great outing with a 27 point finish and PR of 15:40, but it was Brayden Lunetta who put down a heroic last mile. After a rough middle mile that saw him lose 10 places, he bore down and passed 20 racers in the last third of the race to finish 53rd. “It was all guts,” said Ibarra. He just seemed to finally find some room in the crowded conditions of the couars and made the most of it."
That effort was the difference maker in securing the top-10 finish for the Wolves as Buchanan High School finished 11th, 12 points behind.
Alex Wesolowski was next for King finishing in 16:22, followed by Markos Pineda in 16:37 to finish the scoring. Logan Carlson and Frank Stewart were the 6th and 7th place runners respectively for the Wolves.
While finishing lower than a ranking would have predicted, the team had little else to be disappointed with. They are only the second team in school history to earn a spot. They tasted the beauty of the State Championship; a meet like none other. Six of the seven who raced finished with a PR. Their front-man earned All-State. They set a 5K team time school record. They finished a grueling season on top. Not a bad haul.
And with only one senior in the top 7, they are already likely thinking about a return trip in 2024. Great idea, they’ll just need to remember there are no promises.
November 19, 2023
WALNUT: During the CIF Southern Section D-1 Finals yesterday, the boys team could have been caught thinking about their ranking. Of the 16 teams on the starting line, they entered the Final ranked 7th, and “7” has special significance at CIF.
But it’s not because 7 is a “lucky number.” The sport of cross country has really no such thing; after all, there are no fumbles in the sport, neither are there trick plays, bad bounces, Hail Mary’s, penalty kicks or buzzer beaters from midcourt. In cross country, you get three miles to prove how tough, talented and tenacious your top five finishers are. Add up their places and, at CIF Finals, if you place 7th or better, you move on to the State Championships.
So if the boys from King were obsessing over the number 7, one could understand. Their pre-race ranking indicated a slim margin of error between moving on and going home.
With the rains that had fallen in prior days and were threatening again on Saturday, the meet officials at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt.SAC) pivoted to the “rain course,” which turned a “cross country” meet into a flat, concrete road race … that finished on a track. So much for the hill work teams had done in preparation for Mt.SAC’s notoriously tough three inclines.
“Embrace the change,” head coach Alfonso Ibarra told them prior to the race. The squad did just that and stitched together the race of their collective lives and bested their ranking by a place, finishing 6th overall which put them in the State Finals, to be held this weekend in Fresno. It is the second time a King team has made it to the California State Championship, the last coming 8 years ago when most of this team was in 3rd or 4th grade.
Spearheaded by Maximo Zavaleta who finished 5th overall (and All-CIF), the team set a three-mile team time school record. Bradley Quezada was 23rd, but Brayden Lunetta moved up 11 spots over the last 3 minutes of the race. It was a strong move that pulled the team well ahead of Crescenta Valley who was lurking just 3 points behind the Wolves at that point. Alex Wesolowski and Logan Carlson rounded out the scoring for King, giving the team 172 points, 18 ahead of Crescenta Valley who finished 7th. San Clemente won the race outright with 60 points. Markos Pineda and Frank Stewart ran 6th and 7th respectively for the Wolves.
“I’m extremely proud of them and how they handled running on this new course,” said Ibarra.
The girls finished 9th overall, an outstanding achievement in their own right, given that they didn’t even make it out of league in 2022. “They were disappointed,” said assistant coach Dalton Seckinger, “but I kept reminding them that they surpassed their pre-race ranking by 5 places!”
They did have a special race, the school’s highest finish since 2017. Natalie Drewitz, though just a freshman, had another breakthrough performance, demonstrating a skill level that bodes well for the future for the rising star. Jude Abu-Ghazalah and Ruth DeLoye were side-by-side at the finish after Ruth made up 11 places over the last 4 minutes of the race. Isabelle Graham was next followed by Gracie Guzzetta to finish the scoring with 241 points. Seventh place Redondo Union High finished with 207, Santiago High
- and Big 8 League foe - won the title with 49 points.
Emely Ruiz and Jordyn Ramirez were the 6th and 7th runners for King.
“It was a Cinderella story for the girls team this year,” said King coach Mario Machuca. “I’m really proud of every single one of them for the hard work they put in and for buying into the program.”
The meteoric rise the girls made in 54 weeks is the stuff of legends and in time, will soften the disappointment from missing State.
For the boys, well, it is on to the State meet and will make the Thanksgiving trip to Fresno on Friday. There they’ll look for a top 10 finish in all of California, a result that will require, well, a heavy dose of talent, toughness and tenaciousness.
And once again, luck will not be required or available.
Please sign up for our Remind accounts — they are all new accounts from 2023
King Cross Country/Coach Ibarra will use Remind to get text messages out to the athletes and parents. You are all asked to sign up for the appropriate Remind account:
To sign up for this free service, to the number “81010” text the following (based on your group)
[Parents:] @pmlkxc2023 [Boys Team:] @bmlkxc2023 [Girls Team:] @gmlkxc2023
King Cross Country receives $2000 and half of our stipends from the school. All remaining financial needs are left up to us. It totals about $18,000 when we are said and done. So, we need all hands on deck. Will you help? We need you!
We ask that all athletes contribute $100 to the program through donations from family, friends, or local businesses. That won’t get us all the way to the finish line, but we will make up the balance through a variety of other forms.
1) Donations – our Booster Club is a 501.c.3 Non Profit. All donations are tax deductible!
2) Sponsorships – Local businesses can buy an ad that will run on our website.
3) Amazon Smile will donate a small percentage to our program every time you buy on smile.amazon.com. Log into your account and designate us as your charity: Martin Luther King High School Cross Country-Track Booster Club.
4) Dinners out – We will have several “dine outs” coming at local restaurants. They then turn over 20-25% of your tab to King XC!
THE BIG ONE!!
Volunteers are needed to work the Riverside Course Parking Lot, both at meets King XC will be
competing there AND meets that we are not. King earns 30% of the profits we gain from the
parking lot gate. That’s been a GREAT way for us to make money. Please sign up at
Athletes can use the following methods to help raise money for the team.
Donations (Parents or friends can donate directly, any amount) CLICK THE TAB “FUNDRAISING INFO” ABOVE FOR ACTIVE LINKS
Sponsorships – Companies can get a tax write-off for their donation. CLICK THE TAB “FUNDRAISING INFO” ABOVE FOR ACTIVE LINKS
Will you help? Thank you! Sign up today at amazon.com! Click here for more information