East County Sports

Pala still working, leading, winning

Francis Parker senior Kenan Pala

2021 PREP CROSS COUNTRY

CANYON CREST INVITATIONAL

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

 

CARMEL HIGHLANDS — Kenan Pala, a senior at Francis Parker High in Linda Vista, has done so much in his young life.

Following the lead of his parents, both scientists, Pala started working with the homeless at a young age. Upon entering high school, he started his own non-profit, called Kids4Community, which according to his website, “feeds the homeless and gives lessons of awareness to teens about homelessness.”

Founded in January 2017, just eight months later, Kids4Community donated hygiene kits for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and care packages for the victims of Hurricane Irma.

Pala, of Turkish descent (not from the Native American reservation in the backcountry of East County), has been awarded for his community service by the City of San Diego with a Kenan Pal Day back on Jan. 23, 2018.

According to Pala, “volunteering has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”

By the way, Pala is also one of the state’s top distance runners, proving his worth at Canyon Crest High’s Fleet Feet SD XC Invitational on Saturday (Sept. 4).

Running in the feature Boys Seniors Division, Pala, who is also a triathlete, covered the 3-mile course with slight gradients in a stellar time of 14:11.

Second place? Only a whopping 72 seconds behind in one of the most dominant performances by a local runner in the high school ranks perhaps this century.

Local runners

In the Boys Juniors race, a pair of Santana runners — Connor Cleary and Jayson Oliver — crossed the line almost together, finishing fifth and sixth, respectfully. Fellow Sultan Cameron Thomas was ninth, which could’ve given Santana a second-place finish in the team standings if they had additional runners at this flight. Still, a top-flight showing.

In the Boys Frosh, second place went to Orlando Carrillo of Granite Hills (17:55); Dante Carr of Cathedral Catholic was the medalist.

In the Girls competitions, the winners were Mallory Asis of Mira Mesa (seniors invitational); Melissa Estrada, Vista (juniors); Julia Ferreira, Mission Hills (sophomores); Gabriella Peters, Sage Creek (frosh); and Abigail Cotton, Valley Center (special 1.5-mile sprint for upperclassmen).

Vaqueros Stampede

LAKESIDE —- Grossmont High dominated the upperclassman division of the season-opening Vaquero Stampede on Aug. 21, hosted annually by El Capitan High at Lindo Lake Park.

The Foothillers ran away, literally, with the title among seniors and juniors with 58 points. Every other school finished in triple-digits, as the G-House was followed by San Marcos (107), Poway (121), Steele Canyon (123), and Patrick Henry (127).

The medalist was Russell Blakely of Grossmont, tackling the 2-mile spring in 9:51. Meanwhile, Hillers teammate Ian Rosen was fourth overall, as both juniors topped the 10-minute barrier.

Among other East County finishers, Caden Romaine Glenn of Patrick Henry was third, while Liberty Charter junior Micah Sanchez placed ninth among the 127 finishers.

On the girls’ side, Steele Canyon placed fourth overall to team champion San Marcos. Grossmont was sixth, then Ramona was seventh.

Among the individuals in the 11/12 race, MacKenzie Rogers of Poway completed the 2-mile course in 1:33, despite some slight rain, beating out Jenna O’Beirne of University City by 23 seconds.

The top East County finisher was junior Yareli Alvarez of Steele Canyon, who was 10th among 81 finishers in 12:47.

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