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Local products shine at So Cal meet

Posted: September 13, 2013 8:50 p.m.
Updated: September 13, 2013 8:50 p.m.

College of the Canyons freshmen Rodrigo Ornelas, left, and Robert Pion, center run at the Southern California preview meet on Friday at Central Park. Jesse Munoz/College of the Canyons Sports Information

Two former Saugus High stars established themselves as College of the Canyons’ next cross country headliners on Friday.

At the Southern California preview meet held at Saugus’ Central Park, COC freshman Rodrigo Ornelas, who graduated from Saugus this past spring, finished in 21 minutes, 12.75 to take fourth place of 192 runners in the men’s race.

Fellow Saugus graduate Robert Pion was COC’s next-best finisher in 21:32.36 for seventh place in the four-mile race. Pion graduated from Saugus in 2011 as the top individual finisher in school history at a state cross country championship, taking seventh.

That mark was beaten by A.J. Yarnall’s second-place finish last year, but Pion has returned to competitive running in a big way after two years off.

“He committed to run this year and boy, he just picked up right where he left off,” said COC cross country head coach Lindie Kane.

Coming in as COC’s third runner was Alex Johnson from Valencia High, who took 27th in 22:17.79.

The three of them helped the Cougars finish fourth of 31 teams from around Southern California, in addition to American River College of Sacramento.

American River, the two-time defending men’s state champions, won the event on Friday by a considerable margin. Four of the top five individual finishers in the men’s race were from American River, the only school participating from Northern California.

On the women’s side, COC was seventh out of 35 teams with Orange Coast winning the event.

A pair of freshmen, Dominique Dowell and Saugus graduate Diana Barrera were COC’s top finishers in the 5K race, taking 23rd place in 20:32.94 and 32nd place in 20:57.76, respectively.

The purpose of Friday’s event was to give teams a first look at the course on which the Southern California Championships will be held on Nov. 8.


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