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2014 Foothill League girls track and field preview

Posted: March 26, 2014 10:54 p.m.
Updated: March 26, 2014 10:54 p.m.

Golden Valley's Azaria Hill competes in the 100-meter dash on March 21, 2013 at West Ranch High School.

 

After building up its program for years, the Golden Valley girls track and field team finally reached the pinnacle last year by winning its first Foothill League championship in school history.

That may have been just the beginning for this team.

The Golden Valley Grizzlies enter league competition today as the deepest and most talented team.

Who has the best chance to knock them off? Perhaps it could be Canyon or Saugus with their success in the distance events.

Or one could go a different route and choose Valencia, a team with historically great athletes and a lot of promise again this year.

And Hart has a lot of young, under-the-radar talent as well.

No matter who wins in the team competitions, there will be plenty of fierce competitions in various events come Foothill League finals time.


Golden Valley

You name it, Golden Valley has it covered.

It’s tough to find a soft spot in this year’s loaded lineup as the Grizzlies try to defend their first girls track and field title in school history from last year.

Most of the team’s championship sprinting squad returns, led by sophomore Azaria Hill, junior Crystal Orellana and senior Jada Selexman.

Those three combined to win five league titles last year.

Additionally, senior Caitlyn Zindroski returns to defend her 100-meter hurdles Foothill title.

Though Golden Valley graduated top-notch thrower Courtney Maduike, senior Samiyah Hawkins has stepped up in a big way in both throwing events.

“If some of the girls can live up to their capabilities and be able to get that best effort on meet day, we think our girls can repeat as champions,” head coach John Quam said.


Saugus

Much like the boys team at Saugus, the girls lost a few big-time athletes to graduation and another to injury.

But there are plenty of others returning who could easily boost Saugus near the top of the league again. The Centurions were second behind Golden Valley last year.

A big reason why is the team’s depth in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races. Junior Samantha Ortega returns after her state finals appearance in the 3,200 and fellow junior Sabrina Janes will try to replicate her run to the 800 state final.

Junior Avery Schulhofer is a potential CIF-level sprinter for Saugus and she’ll be joined by Leah Eldridge in some of the sprint relays.

The usually-strong hurdles lineup for Saugus took a hit with the graduation of Monica Allen and the season-ending ankle injury of Jenna Mears, though senior Katie Mohrhoff is filling in nicely.

“It’s going to be interesting with the amount of injuries we have the girls who aren’t coming back,” said Saugus head coach David Russell.

Junior MacKinzie Moncibais has a chance to be Saugus’ biggest point scorer with her abilities in all three jump events and beyond.

Her versatility will be counted on if Saugus is going to be near the top of the league again.


Canyon

Coming off a third-place finish in league, Canyon is more experienced and significantly healthier than it was this time last year.

That bodes well for this team.

Canyon boasts a strong group of versatile runners in Sarah Cipperley, Kendall Bietsch, Natalie Rodriguez and Kyle Danforth.

Cipperley and Bietsch, along with senior Brooke Moore, are strong sprinters while Rodriguez and Danforth are among the league’s top distance runners.

“Saugus won’t have their way with us like they have in the past several years,” said Canyon head coach Paul Broneer of his distance runners.

That group will help to neutralize the sprinting prowess at Golden Valley and the impressive distance group at Saugus.

As for field events, junior Raelyn Abbinanti is near the top of the league in the pole vault, senior Mari Kneisel is moving up in the long jump and junior Dana Bowers also adds to Canyon’s deep group of jumpers.

West Ranch

The season ahead is full of optimism for West Ranch, which returns nearly all of last year’s top competitors.

“We’re young but lots of talent and every strong performer from last year is back,” said West Ranch head coach Steve Welker.

Sophomore Marisa Magsarili is out to defend her league title in the 800 while Taylor Hernandez and Taylor Welker add to the team’s strong distance group.

Taylor Welker is fighting an Achilles injury, but she should be back at full strength in the coming weeks, according to Coach Welker.

In the sprint events, West Ranch has junior Morgan Thornton, senior Adazjia Brent, junior Rachel Smith and freshman Adaugo Oguejifor in what Coach Welker says is “the best 4x100 team in years.

Oguejifor should also be a points-scoring machine in hurdles and jump events, where West Ranch will add depth with freshman Julie Watler in both hurdles events and fellow freshman Maya Ortiz in the high jump.


Valencia

There’s no shortage of great athletes at Valencia this year.

Will there be enough of them to seriously challenge for a team title? That remains to be seen.

But certainly athletes like junior Amelia Pear (800), senior Briana Pica (pole vault) and junior Kaitlyn Matthews (high jump) will challenge for individual league crowns.

Pica and Matthews are going for repeats league titles in their events.

And there are others, like sensational freshman distance runner Kaylee Thompson, who already owns the school record in the 3,200.

Add onto that Valencia’s strong sprinting group that includes senior Kristen Uy, junior Vanessa Edwards and senior Sandra Ikeora, who also does jumping events.

“Of course we want to win meets, but if our kids are getting better then I’m happy. I can’t worry about the other teams as much as what we’re doing,” said Valencia head coach Jeff Gilkey.

Hart

A mixture of returning talent and some young, promising athletes makes Hart an interesting team to watch this year.

There are the veterans like senior distance runner Meghan Fairchild and her twin sister Mikala, along with senior sprinter Annie Forbes and senior hurdler Kate Linn.

But Hart also adds freshman runner Bailey Pate to the mix. She’s already putting up times that make her a league title candidate in the 800.

There’s also freshman Hayley Moore, who has a lot of potential in the hurdles.

“We’re looking to make a bigger splash this year than we have in the past,” said Hart girls head coach Travis Hobbs of the team’s last-place finish in league in 2013.

Hart will add depth in the hurdles and jump events with seniors Kate Linn and Cara Newberry as well as junior Leina Verrier.

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