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Experience and youth to take stage

Centurions look to exploit young league with veteran leadership as Foothill League prepares to get

Posted: March 26, 2009 1:47 a.m.
Updated: March 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Most of the girls track teams in the Foothill League are either young or inexperienced – and that could give Saugus the advantage.

The Centurions are gunning for their fourth league championship in a row in girls’ track and field, although head coach Christian Standley identifies one big hole to fill.

“I guess you could say that we don’t have the field event superstar that we’ve had in the past,” he said. “This year, we don’t have the standout like we’re used to in the throws or the jumps. It’s going to be kind of a by-committee effort.”

But Saugus always churns out incredible distance runners, and this year’s crop is no different. Senior Brianna Jauregui and Anne Randall, junior Amber Murakami, sophomore Stephanie Bulder, and freshman Karis Frankian will likely rack up valuable points in the 800-meter race, 1600 and 3200 this spring.

Meanwhile, sophomore Kaylin Mahoney, who finished third in the 3200 at last year’s CIF-Southern Section track and field championships, is out indefinitely with an injury.

“It will really test the depth of this team,” Standley said. “Hopefully other girls can bare enough of the burden that we can continue to have success without our ace.”

The Saugus boys, on the other hand, will try to join the girls on the Foothill League summit.

And they’ll do so with strong distance runners of their own.

Standley hopes that Brandon Jauregui will be able to run the 800, 1600 and 3200, while junior Alec Nelson will most likely run the 1600 and 3200.

Senior Josh Coefield is the Centurions’ top returning sprinter, while Daniel Swarbrick will defend his CIF-Southern Section championship in the shot put and Landon Shaw will provide Saugus with a solid pole-vaulter.

“I’m pretty confident with our distance,” Standley said. “I think we stack up well with the rest of the league. We have a few new guys out who are rounding into the field events.”

After finishing second in the league last season, the young but talented Canyon girls figure to provide a big challenge for Saugus.

The Cowboys will be led by senior thrower Courtney Saunders, junior sprinter Keeli Howard, junior pole-vaulter Gilian Lopez, and sophomore sprinter and jumper Layana White.

Canyon also has a pair of outstanding freshmen in hurdler Taylor Thomas and jumper Tiffiny Stone. “Our girls team is formidable,” said Canyon head coach Paul Broneer. “I think we’re going to make up (points) in the field events, sprints and hurdles. I think we have a pretty balanced team.”

Balance could help the boys team capture a league title this spring. Sophomore Darius Rudolph has posted some of the best pre-league times in the sprints, and senior Anthony Pizzo is one of the league’s top distance runners.

Senior Harrison Hall will return to defend his league titles in high jump and triple jump, and the junior tandem of Dylan Kawaa and Ricky Bergeron give the Cowboys solid point-scorers in the throws.

The talent is there for Canyon, but so far, health has been another issue.

“Right now, we just need to stay healthy on the guys’ side,” Broneer said. “We held three key guys at the Burroughs meet. I think getting healthy is important.”

The Valencia boys team has avoided the injury bug, and could be poised for a run at the league title because of it.

Junior Jabari Howard will run sprints and also participate in the long jump and triple jump, and junior Brennan Bernardino has already become one of the top jumpers despite just joining the team this season.

Junior sprinters Brock Vereen and Zach Tartabull will give Valencia some more punch on the track, while junior Brooks Walsh will lead the pole-vaulters. Sophomore Falco Digiallonardo is Valencia’s top distance runner.

“We need more depth in throws,” said head coach Pat Connelly. “The hurdles are going to hurt us. I don’t know where to figure us in for league.”

The girls team, while young, figures to challenge Saugus and Canyon for the league title with plenty of depth.

Sophomore Jasmine Hall participates in the 400 and the high jump, and junior Marisol Guzman bolsters the Vikings’ throwers.

The strong stable of sprinters also features seniors Aly Drake and Kelly Deckers, and sophomores Shea Cox, Jessica Criner and Faith Anumba.

“The girls side, I think, is a little better and has a little more depth in all of the events,” Connelly said. “We’re going to be hurting in the hurdles, but we’ve got some good sprinters.”

Hart lost an exceptional sprinter on the boys’ side in Delano Howell, who recorded the best Foothill League times in the 100, 200 and 400 a season ago.

The Indians won the boys title last spring, but suffered several key losses in addition to Howell.

Senior sprinter Demitri Diamond will try to pick up the slack despite missing last season due to injury. Junior pole-vaulter Hunter Jones and senior thrower Ted Glasnow will help Hart score points in the field events, and freshman Sam Peckham and sophomore Anthony Soto are already making waves in the distance races.

“We’re improving off the first couple meets,” said Hart head coach Larry David. “We’ve certainly got some places we need to shore up. The sprints and the hurdles and the throws, we’ll be trying to get points from those guys as much as possible.”
On the girls side, David believe the talent is more spread around.

Sophomore Katie Trevino will take part in sprint races, hurdle races and the high jump, and she’s one of a number of soccer players out for this year’s team.

Junior Ariel Hauck is among the top hurdlers in the league, Grace Zamudio will run middle distance races and sophomore Anissa Robinson could provide Hart with points in the throws.

“The girls team is much improved from last year,” David said. “The numbers are up. Some talented freshmen have come in. It’ll be interesting to see how they hold.”

Golden Valley lost a hefty senior class on the boys side from last season, but the Grizzlies still have a considerable veteran presence and the numbers are up from seasons past.

Head coach Rob Evans feels that should help in an ever-competitive Foothill League.

“I look at all the marks that our league has put up this year,” he said. “I see a lot of 10th graders, 11th graders. I think that’s why this league is so great. It’s so deep and so competitive.”

Senior Bino Horne is among the top sprinters in the league, and senior Emmanuel Tolentino should provide points in the jumping events. Junior hurdler Dylan Olson should also compete for a league title in his events.

The girls team features an infusion of young talent, led by sophomore distance runner Lauren Nygren, sophomore sprinter Lauren Hackney and junior jumper Kristine Tan.

Grizzlies head coach Rob Evans watched another Golden Valley program’s success this past winter, and now hopes his team is ready to equal it.

“We’re pretty young this year, but they’re working as hard as ever,” Evans said. “I think that’s something our school has begun to achieve here. We’re piggybacking the boys basketball team. Our school is hungry for success.”

West Ranch is looking to achieve that success as well.

The Wildcats may have it at the top of each event, but head coach Randy Smith noted depth may be an issue.

“I feel that we have some good first-place strength in a lot of events, but we don’t have enough depth in the field in particular, so that’s going to be a problem for us,” he said.

Senior Ross Bacon and junior Evan Stevens will anchor the sprinters, and senior Matt Harmon will be among the top hurdlers in the league. Senior distance runner Carter Welker should also be in the running for a league championship.

On the girls side, junior Bailey Miller, sophomore Jennifer Owen and freshman Ashley Welker will give the Wildcats steady performers in the distance races, and sisters Kayley and Breann Braucher lead West Ranch in the throws.

But the program saw its first class of four-year participants just last season, and the outlook is bright.

“This year, we are definitely a little more experienced,” Smith said.

jgulino@the-signal.com

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