Cal High runners celebrate college signings
WHITTIER — It’s just not the same these days for recently graduated high school seniors to announce their college choices.
But at Cal High, Cross Country Coach Brandon Martinez recently conducted a Zoom meeting with 16 athletes that are moving on to college and a good portion will be still competing in cross country.
“I’ve been using Zoom for about two years now,” Martinez said. “I haven’t seen the runners for a while now and that was nice. I’ve only seen a couple of the kids and the Zoom meeting was cool.
“They all worked hard for this opportunity to go to college. All of the kids on the team that graduated have four-year plans for college.”
It was really cool, as numerous underclassmen were also viewing the ceremony, along with the 16 seniors.
“We had some freshmen, sophomores and juniors join in,” added Martinez added. “They got to see what you become as a senior.”
Usually the signings are in the principal’s office for small family gatherings or in the gym to accommodate more people.
“In the works was a big signing day ceremony for early March, but then COVID-19 hit,” Martinez said. “Maybe next year. The Zoom meeting might be used more for a creative way to communicate.”
Making a special appearance at the meeting were a few guests, which included Cal High principal Bill Schloss, Western Washington coach T.J. Garlatz, Concordia coach Keegan Bloomfield and Cal State East Bay coach Tony Nicolosi.
Schloss addressed the students: “I’m very pleased and grateful that I could join you all tonight. This is a really exciting time for you guys.
“Usually we tend to do these signing events, at least in my office, with balloons and lots of people. I see there’s too close to 40 people on the Zoom here tonight. So that’s a lot more than we usually get, so you know there’s pluses and minuses everything that’s going on right now.
“But I’m real proud of you guys and I know the seniors have run together for thousands of miles I’m sure at this point over four years. Like I’ve told you guys before at one of your events, if you’ve never been a distance runner, you really don’t know what it’s like. And thanks again I’m just really pleased to be with you tonight.”
Coach Martinez, who put a lot of work into the Zoom ceremony, then started things off by thanking Misty Mata for the great work on designing all of the logos for the seniors that appeared on the screen as they spoke.
Each senior then had a chance to say a few words about his or her experiences at Cal High and their plans for the future in college.
Adrian “AJ” Gonzalez – Adrian will attend Northern Arizona and will major in Mechanical Engineering and will walk on for cross country.
“It meant everything to me and my friends and everyone on the team. They’re my family and I just it was hard to end the season so early because of the pandemic that has gone on.”
Alexis Garcia – Alexis will attend Rio Hondo College and major in Biology and transfer to Cal State Fullerton.
“What meant the most to me and cross country was the team bonding and the team and just seeing the parents at the races meant a lot to me. Just running in general meant a lot.”
Mai Quesada – Mai will attend Cal State Long Beach and major in Pre-Nursing.
“I hope to get into the nursing major or nursing program in my sophomore or junior year. I’m cross country and this is track this is what it’s meant to me has been a community where I can be with individuals who share the same goals and understand the same hardships. It’s just a place where I can be myself with other people.”
Julia Maynard – Julia will attend UC Santa Cruz and major in Neuroscience and plans to walk on the cross country team.
“I plan on becoming a neurosurgeon. That’s my end goal. I’ve been to Santa Cruz as a child and that’s when I picked up a banana slug (the Santa Cruz mascot). But the second time I was with the Model United Nations on a trip to UC Davis and stopped at UC Santa Cruz. That’s when I got interested in the campus. I’m really glad to have met a bunch of really nice people and make a lot of great memories with all of you guys. I’m never gonna forget every single one of you. Thank you all for making it such a memorable time.”
Her brother, Diego, will be a sophomore next season on the cross country team.
Arthur Cossio – Arthur will attend Rio Hondo and major in Music.
“I want to go into either music or animation. I’m still deciding between one of those. And if those don’t work out and maybe psychology and maybe work out to be a therapist or somewhere in that range.”
Sandra Ramirez – Sandra will attend Cal State Long Beach and will major in Chicano Studies.
“What cross country meant to me, as I’m sure most people will say, is mainly just friendship and the bond because it’s like having a close bond with all the girls that really helped me out through all four years. Then I would at least like to be motivated to show up to practice for them and I at least like hang out with them.”
Lizbeth Velasquez – She will attend Rio Hondo and major in Sociology.
“I’m really glad that I joined cross, but if I had to pick one memory, I probably would pick the time that we were all at Avila, because I feel like everyone really like bonded there, especially the girls. We got close to the girls and it was just a real experience for me because I’ve had friends before, but it just never felt like that close with people before.”
Katelan Zubieta – Katie will attend Mt. SAC, major in Business and will walk on the cross country team.
“I would say what I liked about cross country is the bonds I made with everybody. I know for a fact that all of us are going to stay connected and going to know that we still will have that bond and just seeing everybody push themselves to their full potential. That’s what I enjoyed about being in cross.”
Ethan Ruiz – Ethan will attend Rio Hondo and will enroll in the Fire Academy.
Josh Granados – Josh will attend Cerritos College and plans on transferring to Cal State Fullerton and will run cross country and track.
“I will do Kinesiology for my major and maybe do either physical therapy or massage therapy. guess the most my memory. The most memories I have are just the bonds that I’ve had. I’m so grateful that I have these boys that are willing to be with me and stick with my crazy jokes and my laughing weirdness.”
Arieanna Ruiz – She will attend Cal State Fullerton and major in Kinesiology.
“What cross country and track has meant to me is probably just to push myself to the limits. I don’t know what’s possible and just getting closer with everybody, because you see everybody out there, good times and bad times. Just having everybody there to support you and the most memorable part is probably the distance carnivals, because you see everybody so determined to achieve their goals and you have all the parents there.”
Lynette Rubio – Lynette will attend Cal State Fullerton and will major in Animation and Visual Effects.
“As for cross country and track, I’m glad that I stayed four years because it taught me commitment and all the support from my teammates and the parents really meant a lot. So I’m grateful for that.”
Josh Caudillo – Josh will attend Rio Hondo College and major in Criminal Justice. Josh also wants to get into the LAPD Police Academy.
“One of the best memories I can say about this team is probably the Avila Beach trip that we just took recently. Just being able to have a cross country season for my first time with Coach Martinez and I just want to say thank you to coach to allow me to be on a team as well. I’m going to miss all my teammates and friends in the future and good luck to everyone.
Josh’s younger brother, Jacob, will be a sophomore and run on the team.
Coach Martinez then ended the Zoom ceremony with the final three seniors who signed their letters.
Jared Alderfer – He will attend Western Washington University, major in Business Management and will run cross country and track.
“I chose Western Washington because of their amazing business program, the fantastic team culture and stunning scenery. I would like to thank my parents for believing in me and being my biggest fans. I would like to thank a teen parent, Misty, for being a huge team mom for us and really being such a selfless person and caring for all the students on the team.
“Lastly, thank you to my teammates and my friends who became my brothers over the past four years, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything without them. And thank you to my new coach, coach TJ, who really believed in me and saw my determination and saw my motivation to do great things. He gave me this great opportunity and I will not let him down. So, go Vikings.”
Fernando “Nano” Aguirre – Nano will attend Concordia and major in Nursing or Psychology and run cross country and track.
“I’m going to feel amazing to spend at least one season with my brother at Concordia. It’ll be the first time that I get to race with him and amazing to be at Concordia. College is going to be much harder races.”
Jack Martinez – Jack will attend Cal State East Bay and major in Computer Science and will run cross country and track.
“I was really taken to the campus because it’s in the Bay Area, and I really love that area and you know being computer science. I can’t pass up Silicon Valley. One of the best memories I have in cross country is just going on all the trips. Not just one memory, but making so many with friends and just really connecting with the people there.”
Following the three athletes that signed, Martinez read a statement from each of the coaches.
Finally, Martinez thought about what the upcoming season might be like.
“We’re not trying to pull out all of the stops to get started,” he said. “As far as the season goes, you could conceivably pull off one race with all of the Del Rio League schools if we had to.”
Martinez was referring to a possible delay to the 2020-21 season.