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Saugus boys XC wins CIF title; girls place sixth

Canyon, Valencia and West Ranch girls teams fall short of state qualifying

Posted: November 23, 2013 1:38 p.m.
Updated: November 23, 2013 2:32 p.m.

The Saugus boys cross country team pose for photos after their performance at CIF-Southern Section Division II championship at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut on Saturday. Signal photo by Dan Watson.

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WALNUT – There might be a new cross country power in the Santa Clarita Valley.

It’s the Saugus boys team – not the usually impressive girls – which put up jaw-dropping results on the way to a decisive CIF-Southern Section Division II championship on Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College.

For the Saugus Centurion boys, it was their first CIF title since 2010 and fourth overall. And it was done by an impressive margin of 83-118 over second-place Dos Pueblos as Saugus put all five scoring runners in the top 36.

The seven-time defending state champion girls team settled for sixth place in Division II after winning six of the last seven CIF crowns. The Centurions made the top-seven cut to advance to the CIF State Cross Country Championships on Saturday in Fresno.

“If you’re at Saugus, it’s the girls, it’s the girls, it’s the girls, it’s the girls. But today, it’s about the boys,” said Saugus head coach Rene Paragas during the awards ceremony for the boys team.

Also racing on Saturday were three other local girls teams – Canyon, West Ranch and Valencia. All three fell short of state qualifying.

Canyon was 10th of 16 teams in girls Division II while West Ranch took 13th and Valencia 15th of 16 teams in the Division I race.

Saugus will be the only SCV school moving on.

Junior Brian Zabilski was honored for finishing fourth place individually in a time of 14 minutes, 58 seconds, which was the third-fastest time on the course in school history.

“It was just stay together and run the race of a lifetime,” Zabilski said. “You’ve got to stick to the plan. You’ve got to be solid. You can’t let anything get in your way. There’s no excuse today. It’s CIF.”

Zabilski was followed by fellow Centurions Ethan Walker (20th, 15:27), Ryan Tate (21st, 15:28), Alex Pearson (24th, 15:31), Jordan Serrano (36th, 15:49) as the scoring runners. Billy Anthony and Chris Ochoa followed as Saugus’ sixth and seventh runners.

“In your mind you know that we’re going for the win, but every race is just nerves,” Walker said. “You just trust in everyone on our team that they’ll come through for us.”

On the girls side, it was once again junior Samantha Ortega leading the way with a third-place mark of 17:05. That was well short of her school-record time of 16:47 last month at the Mt. SAC Invitational.

“I did not think it was going to be as tough as it was today, but it’s just something we have to learn from and we have to battle back and we have to prepare to go in next week and give more than everything we’ve got,” Ortega said.

Simi Valley won the girls Division II race and will go into next week as the presumptive favorite to end the Saugus state title streak.

Only the top seven team finishers in each race advanced to state, and the rest of the local teams missed that mark.

“As a team I thought we all tried our best and unfortunately we didn’t make our goal,” said Canyon senior Natalie Rodriguez. “But overall the season was just really special to us and we didn’t end it like we wanted to.”

Rodriguez crossed the finish line first for Canyon in a 26th-place time of 18:18.

On the bright side for Canyon, Shalyn Mabritto (39th, 18:38) and Stephanie Martinez (66th, 19:16) both recorded lifetime bests at the Mt. SAC course.

It concludes a season in which Canyon pulled off an upset of Saugus in Foothill League No. 1 and finished second overall in league.

“I’m really happy with the season,” said Canyon head coach Paul Broneer. “I think the girls did very well. I’m very proud of them. I told the girls its track season now.”

The Foothill’s third and fourth finishers – Valencia and West Ranch – ran earlier in the morning, in a tough girls Division I race.

Valencia standout freshman Kaylee Thompson was the top local finisher in the race, coming across in 18:32 for 39th place.

That concludes a strong season for one of the Foothill League’s most promising young talents, who was battling a knee injury through the last two weeks.

“I think that we did pretty good today,” Thompson said. “I don’t know about me because I have an injury, but I think overall the team did pretty good.”

A few seconds behind Thompson was West Ranch junior Marisa Magsarili, who was 45th in 18:37.

“We trained really hard this week,” Magsarili said. “I just think that maybe we could have rested a little more, but in the end we made it really far and I’m really proud of our team.”

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