Since the South Pasadena Unified School District closed its campuses on the ominous date of Friday, March 13, 2020, and shut down all in-person extracurricular activities, athletes, their families and coaches have ridden the roller coaster of all roller coasters anticipating their return.
That day arrived last Tuesday, Feb. 23, following a series of scheduled starting dates that went wanting while the pesky coronavirus persisted.
But that all came to an end, at least for now, as South Pasadena’s cross country team members donned their orange and black uniforms and took to the trails of the Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena to celebrate the return of sports.
And return they did. The Tigers seemingly picked up right where they left off in the fall of 2019, rambling to decisive victories in the girls’ and boys’ varsity competitions. Seniors Lindsay Michels (19:09) and Andrew Villapudua (16:06) handily won their respective girls’ and boys’ races on the scenic three-mile course to pace SPHS.
Each had plenty of assistance, as junior Sydney Morrow (third place, 20:53), senior Amelia Jarolim (fifth, 20:54), junior Lilian Zhu (eighth, 22:03), sophomore Kaile Fernandes (ninth, 22:08), junior Miranda Liu (10th, 22:20), junior Gabriela Rodriguez (11th, 22:28) and junior Mai Koyama (21st, 29:05) turned in solid performances for the girls.
On the boys’ side, junior Liam De Villa crossed the finish line in third place with a clocking of 17:11, followed closely by senior Patrick Latting (fourth, 17:31), senior Andrew Parkinson (fifth, 18:21), junior Brady Nakamura (eighth, 19:40), junior Philson Ho (11th, 2:06) and junior Kaden Chai (13th, 20:14).
Other sterling performances were turned in by sophomore Jason Baek, who placed second in the boys’ frosh-soph race, and was followed to the tape by sophomores Nathan Hodson (fourth, 27:35) and Gongyeon Kim (fifth, 29:52).
The junior varsity boys’ race was paced by senior Derek Rodriguez (first place, 20:05), senior Riley Williams (second, 20:11) and juniors Noah Kuhn (third, 20:40, Steven Kim (fourth, 22:29), Austin Borgerding (fifth, 23:00), Jennoh Rhee (sixth, 27:00) and Joshua Ramirez (seventh, 27:35).
Due to the socially distanced nature of their sport, Tiger runners were able to train almost uninterrupted since last summer. Last week’s competition was staged in atypical fashion, with teams participating in a “time trial” format, which calls for each individual school to complete the course together in a single cohort. The finishing times were then combined into a total team score.
The harriers will be back at it next week, though the time and location have not yet been determined.