San Bernardino Valley College’s men, usually the ring-bearer for cross country programs either prep or college around this area, opened its season at the Aug. 31 Redlands Invitational.

Running against mostly four-year schools, SBVC freshman Elvis Rojas, the Mountain Pass League champion from Beaumont High, and fellow freshman Kevin Quinteros (A.B. Miller) ran 2-3 in their college debut.

Also making his first collegiate start was Eddie Perez, a distance-running sensation from San Gorgonio, who ran in 19th, two places behind Alvaro Heredia (Rialto).

SBVC took second to another California JUCO heavyweight, Riverside City College (2016 State champion), 56-63, despite the Rojas-Quinteros connection’s inish outdistancing the Tigers’ 4-7 finish -- Jordan Wilson and Alberto Lopez.

The Redlands Invitational men’s outcome could be a preview of the Nov. 8 Southern California Championships scheduled for San Diego’s Mission Bay course.

Perez is joined by another San G alum, San Andreas League 800 champion Daniel Quintero, on SBVC’s roster.

The men’s champion was Matthew Salas, of La Verne, who prepped at Redlands High.

It’s always interesting to note SBVC’s men’s squad pieced together by coach Jim Ratigan, especially after its 2006-2010 run of five straight State championships. There have been a few close calls in recent years as well.

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On the women’s side of that Redlands Invitational, Caltech-Pasadena scorched the field, 26-63, ahead of the hosts, Alexis Wallace running fourth overall for the Lady Bulldogs. Five Caltech runners finished in the top 10.

SBVC’s Kimberly Pena (Eastvale Roosevelt) took fifth, the Lady Wolverines finishing sixth overall.

PREP CROSS COUNTRY

San Gorgonio

(CIF Division 3)

Tony Bui and Edgar Ocampo had the Spartans’ best run at the season-opening Colton Swarm Invitational. The junior duo ran 9-13 at the traditionally-run event, Bui’s 17:51 over a minute behind winning runner Simon Opsahl of Redlands East Valley.

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Diego Melchor (18:54) took 10th in the Colton Swarm sophomore boys roundup.

* * *

Elvis Bui and Samuel Rojo ran 10-11 in the senior boys race only one second apart in an 18:18 finish.

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If the Lady Spartans are building a nucleus, it might come from a handful of sophomores, topped by Yoselin Canseco (23:22), 19th in the Colton Swarm girls sophomore run. Two others, Unienque Solis (24:04) and Julianna Yanez (24:62) took 21-22.

Aquinas

(CIF Division 4)

The Falcons have some work to do after early-season meets at both the Great Cow Invitational (Cerritos) and the Rosemead Invitational. There were no top 10 finishes at either event with the Sept. 24 Ambassador League Swarm on tap.

Speaking of the Ambassador League: Its top-flight program includes Riverside Woodcrest Christian -- six-time CIF champs, six-time State champs in just the boys’ program -- that is the showcase team.

Its girls are two-time CIF champs and four-time runners-up at State.

Try taking that on if you’re Aquinas, or any other Ambassador League squad.

There are some names from Aquinas’ program to digest:

In last year’s league finals, the Lady Falcons had a top 10 finisher -- sixth place Kendrick Robbins -- with freshman Rosalie Guitron, sophomore Isabella Cooley, junior Avery McFaul and freshman Gabriela Corona helped notch a fifth place finish behind league champion Temecula Linfield Christian, which should return its entire cast of top 10 finishers in 2019.

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A five-man sophomore contingent -- Alejandro Ayala, Eloy Becerra, Johann Rivera, Brian Morales and Emiliano Navarro -- finished in pack formation in last fall’s league championships, 16-21-22-24-27.

By contrast, first place Woodcrest Christian placed five underclassmen in the top 10.

Citrus Valley

(CIF Division 3)

Perhaps building off its top finishers from last year’s CBL finals -- freshman Jake Caliva (14th), junior Christian Fernandez (16th) and sophomore Karson Bussell (29th), plus two more freshmen, the Blackhawks finished last in the six-team field.

Throw in a bunch of freshmen, says Grace Padilla Leong, a veteran runner of about 36 years.

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Not to be forgotten, Citrus Valley’s Ethan Romero scored first in the boys’ freshman division off a school record (freshman) 15:53.1 run. Fellow freshman Juan Montes wasn’t far behind in third place (16:19).

Romero edged Montes in a 1-2 finish at the Great Cow Run in Cerritos on Aug. 31.

“We’re running in the 15s (minutes) and 16s,” says Leong. “Right now, that’s where we are. We’re young. We’re mostly freshmen and sophomores.”

REV’s boys, she said, “This is their year. They’re stacked.”

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Sophia Cantuba gave the Lady Blackhawks a 13th place run in last year’s CBL finals, sophomore Bridget McNamara running 19th -- the top two building blocks for this year’s squad.

Beating Yucaipa, however, would require a miracle. Junior Danielle Gee led a six-girl pack of top 10 finishers -- all underclassmen -- in a 25-71 triumph over runner-up Cajon.

“They have a lot of kids,” said Leong, who helps with Citrus Valley’s girls. “I’m begging kids to come out for cross country. I’m chasing freshmen to run with us.”

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Lady Blackhawk ninth grader Itzel Del Rio’s fourth place finish at the Great Cow run in 20-flat gave was a highlight from the freshman girls division.

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