To say the student-athletes of the Ontario Christian High boys’ and girls’ cross country teams were happy taking part in a competitive meet might be an understatement.
They were elated, and ready to run.
Ontario Christian High, which as a program last competed in a meet in November 2019 and missed all of the 2020 calendar year because of the coronavirus pandemic, traveled to Aquinas High in San Bernardino Thursday afternoon for a nonleague meet along with Arrowhead Christian Academy, which are all members of the Ambassador League.
On the boys side, Ontario Christian won the varsity race with 38 points. Arrowhead Christian had 39 and Aquinas finished with 43.
Individually, Ontario Christian’s Aidan Vorster finished first overall, running in his first race since placing 12th at the CIF State cross country meet in 2019.
“Aidan is looking to break some school records and be one of the top runners in Ontario Christian history,” Ontario Christian head coach Jon Schapp said. “He is looking very strong and has trained hard putting himself in a position to do just that this year hopefully.”
Mario Balderas placed seventh in 18:51, Logan Peters took ninth in 19:26, Ethan Esproles was 10th in 19:55 and Aiden Thigpen finished 11th in 20:05 for Ontario Christian.
Aquinas finished with a perfect score of 15 on the girls' side with its runners placing first through fifth, Ontario Christian scored 49 and Arrowhead Christian only had one runner, who finished 12th in the race.
For Ontario Christian, Marian Mendoza was seventh in 24:17, Emma Kirsteppfad took 10th in 25:17, Sydney Peters finished 11th in 25:29, Sarah Squyres was 14th in 26:32, and Olivia DeGroot ran 20th in 31:19.
“We are overjoyed to be able to participate in our first meet and have a season, abbreviated though it be," Coach Schapp said. "The pandemic has defiantly had an effect on our roster and our season, but we are excited to that the season is actually up and running.”
He said his runners have been training since June, and Thursday’s meet was the first time in the program’s history that runners competed in the month of February. Cross country is normally scheduled for August through November.
“So we were very grateful to participate in our first meet. It’s also great to run in February with weather conditions more ideal for runners this time of year,” Coach Schapp said.
Ontario Christian cross country has four meets scheduled through March 15, inclulding three Ambassador League races.
The Knights will travel to United Christian Academy, 10900 Civic Center Drive in Rancho Cucamonga for a 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18 meet.
From there, Ontario Christian will run Feb. 27 at Woodcrest Christian in Riverside, March 8 at Linfield Christian in Temecula and March 15 at Aquinas.