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Five local XC teams qualify for CIF finals

Posted: November 16, 2013 10:57 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2013 10:57 p.m.
 

It was a good day for the local girls runners on Saturday at the CIF-Southern Section cross country prelims.

The Santa Clarita Valley collectively went four-for-four with girls teams qualifying for the CIF finals at the event at Mt. San Antonio College.

The top four finishers in the Foothill League — Saugus, Canyon, Valencia and West Ranch — all moved onto the finals which will take place on the same course the following Saturday.

On the boys side, Saugus was the only local representative to advance while two teams and two individuals fell short.

Coming in as Foothill League champions in both boys and girls, Saugus followed that with heat victories in their respective Division II heats.

The top four finishers in each heat qualified.

Saugus junior Brian Zabilski, who recently won the individual Foothill title, won his heat in 15 minutes, 10 seconds to lead a pack of five Saugus finishers in the top nine.

The Saugus girls were led by Samantha Ortega’s sixth-place finish in 18:27.

In that same heat, the Canyon girls finished second as a team and also had a second-place individual finish by Natalie Rodriguez (17:55).

Valencia and West Ranch both moved on in their Division I heats.

Valencia, led by standout freshman Kaylee Thompson (14th, 18:37), ended up fourth in their heat.

It’s just the second time in school history any Valencia cross country team has advanced to the CIF finals. And it did so despite Thompson nursing a knee injury.

“Kaylee just gutted it out,” said Valencia head coach Jeff Gilkey. “A freshman, she hasn’t been able to run for nine days and has just been able to cross train and bike for nine days, she really gutted it out.”
Just a few minutes before Valencia’s race, West Ranch also finished fourth it its Division I heat with Marisa Magsarili crossing first for the team in 18:14 for ninth place.

The West Ranch boys weren’t as fortunate, finishing fifth place in their Division I heat.

The Valencia boys also failed to qualify after finishing sixth in a later heat.

There were also two locals participating as individuals on Saturday — Canyon’s Caleb McClain and Golden Valley’s Arnold Bautista.

McClain slipped slightly at the starting line in his race and ended up just missing qualifying by a single place after taking seventh (15:33) in the Division II heat. Only the top six finishers qualified.

“When he finally regained his running posture, he’s in 40th place,” said Canyon head coach Paul Broneer of the start. “He had to sprint to get into the pack.”

In the final race of the afternoon, Bautista came in at 18th with a time of 16:03. He raced in the same heat as the Saugus boys team.

Next week, 16 teams in each division will return to Mt. SAC for a chance to win CIF championships and qualify for the state finals.

The top seven team finishers in each division move on to state.

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