Cross country

Indio, La Quinta run away in first DVL cross country race

La Quinta's Akemi Von Schew is first in the girls' varsity race during the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

La Quinta’s Akemi Von Schew is first in the girls’ varsity race during the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

La Quinta's Akemi Von Schew is first in the girls' varsity race during the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

La Quinta’s Akemi Von Schew is first in the girls’ varsity race during the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

Indio's Luis Berrera is first in the boys' varsity race during the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

Indio’s Luis Berrera is first in the boys’ varsity race during the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

Scene from the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

Scene from the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

The boys' varsity race during the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

The boys’ varsity race during the cross country meet at Xavier College Prep in Palm Desert on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.

Last year’s three-time Desert Valley League boys’ cross country race winner Luis Barrera was looking forward to Wednesday. Yes, last Saturday was the Woodbridge Invitational, one of the premier cross country races in southern California, where the Indio senior knew he’d have a chance to set a new personal best.

But after sweeping the league races a year ago, the uncertainty of the DVL competition loomed.

“I was eager to see who was right there next to me, to see who’s new this year and who I have to try and keep up with,” he said.

Luckily, his teammate Andres Mejia was right there until the final mile. Together, with the rest of the Rajahs, the squad hopes to bring Indio back to the state meet, but first they’ve got their sights set on a second-consecutive DVL title, and after Barrera’s individual win and the team’s domination of the boys’ race, they’re one step closer.

Barrera finished Wednesday’s race at Xavier Prep High School in 15:33, 10 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, Cathedral City’s Andrew Nevarez, and 16 seconds ahead of Mejia, who strode out shoulder-to-shoulder with Barrera for much of the race until the seasoned senior took control in the final third.

Barrera learned a year ago how lonely it can be up at the front, winning twice by more than 15 seconds in league races, and it’s not something he has to worry about in big invitational races where stronger, faster competitors can help him inch closer to his dream of breaking 15 minutes.

So having familiar company up at the front was a pleasant surprise.

“It was really great Andres could be up there,” he said. “I’m really happy, cause he’s my teammate and I want him to do well, too.”

The same couldn’t be said for La Quinta freshman Akemi Von Scherr, though.

The odds-on favorite to sweep all three DVL races ran away with Wednesday’s girls’ varsity race, finishing in 17:12, more than 90 seconds ahead of her closest competitor once the race was complete. La Quinta’s star freshman held a 20-second cushion after the first mile and doubled it to 40 seconds by the race’s halfway point before cruising in with no one in sight.

It was a stark difference to her experience in last Saturday’s sweepstakes race at Woodbridge, where she finished 17th with a personal best of 16:54, the top freshman time in the state this season. And as an inexperienced runner at the varsity level, it’s something she’s going to have to get used to.

“You don’t have anyone in front of you that you want to catch,” she said. “So I just tell myself ‘You’re almost there, keep going, and eventually you’ll finish.”

Last year’s De Anza League star freshman Nyah Chavez of Shadow Hills came through in second in 18:46, followed by three more La Quinta girls, who despite the graduation of their second and third runners from a year ago, Sandra Flores and Vanessa Ramirez, and the transfer of their top runner Marisa Rodriguez to Indio for her senior season, have high hopes of taking home yet another DVL title.

“We all try to stay together and push each other,” said La Quinta sophomore Francine Ansley, who finished third in 19:06. “I just try to keep Akemi a certain distance from me, and everybody else just holds on as we try to run together.”

READ MORE: Five burning questions ahead of 2016 cross country season

READ MORE: Xavier Prep boys and girls stay in CIF rankings

READ MORE: Local runners shine in Woodbridge Invitational

Girls’ individual top 20

1. Akemi Von Scherr (LQ) 17:12

2. Nyah Chavez (SH) 18:46

3. Francine Ansley (LQ) 19:06

4. Brandie Lopez (LQ) 19:58

5. Itzel Chavez (LQ) 20:14

6. Destiny Salazar (I) 20:15

7. Tia Maresca (PD) 20:21

8. Regina Casas (I) 20:24

9. Paige Fullen (SH) 20:40

10. Naibe Ruelas (I) 20:58

11. Alyson McClellan (XP) 21:05

12. Stephany Ramirez (CC) 21:09

13. Riley Arnson (PD) 21:16

14. Ashley Waters (LQ) 21:20

15. Bridget Wickstrand (XP) 21:23

16. Haley Varela (XP) 21:29

17. Mia Limon (XP) 21:35

18. Jasmin Gallegos (SH) 21:36

19. Emma Estep (PD) 21:38

20. Alejandra Guerrero (LQ) 21:40

Girls’ team results

1. La Quinta (27 points)

2. Indio (72)

3. Shadow Hills (77)

4. Xavier Prep (91)

5. Palm Desert (103)

6. Cathedral City (184)

7. Palm Springs (NS)

Boys’ individual top 20

1. Luis Barrera (I) 15:33

2. Andrew Nevarez (CC) 15:43

3. Andres Mejia (I) 15:49

4. Julian Dorantes-Lara (I) 16:08

5. Alejandro Grant (SH) 16:10

6. Braulio Ramirez (XP) 16:16

7. Harin Peraza (CC) 16:21

8. Luis Fernandez (SH) 16:24

9. Michael Branconier (XP) 16:24

10. Aaron Perez (I) 16:27

11. Ethan Waters (PD) 16:29

12. Isaiah Gonzalez (SH) 16:32

13. Fabian Acosta (CC) 16:34

14. Andres Lopez Ospina (XP) 16:44

15. Ceasar Gallardo (CC) 16:47

16. Jesse Diaz (I) 16:50

17. David Hernandez (LQ) 16:54

18. Erick Dominguez (I) 16:58

19. Kiviok Hight (PS) 16:58

20. Adrihel Ibarra (XP) 17:06

Boys’ team results

1. Indio (34 points)

2. Cathedral City (63)

3. Shadow Hills (73)

4. Xavier Prep (74)

5. La Quinta (135)

6. Palm Desert (148)

7. Palm Springs (166)

0 comments