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Team of the Year: Saugus High girls cross country

Record-setting program won its third straight state title and became a measuring stick for the area

Posted: July 5, 2009 7:49 p.m.
Updated: July 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

(From left) Saugus High School's Keri Molt, Anne Randall, Karis Frankian, Stephanie Bulder, Amber Murakami, Brianna Jauregui and Kaylin Mahoney ran a state record of 90 minutes, 6 seconds at the CIF State Division II Cross Country Championships in November. The Centurions later finished second at nationals.

 
They looked like zombies.

Eyes rolled back into their heads, a slow, steady gait, heavy breathing.

After crossing the finish line at Fresno’s Woodward Park on a cool late November morning, these were the signs of sacrifice.

Seven girls, all dead tired, gave their all.

And that all resulted in the greatest girls performance in state cross country history.

The Saugus girls country team ran a state record of 90 minutes, 6 seconds on Nov. 29 in the CIF State Division II Cross Country Championships.

To show just how close in ability the team was, the seven girls all finished in the top 27, 1 minute and 3 seconds within each other.

Sophomore Kaylin Mahoney won the Division II state title in a time of 17:34. The others followed — senior Brianna Jauregui (fourth, 17:48), junior Amber Murakami (eighth, 18:03), sophomore Stephanie Bulder (14th, 18:18), freshman Karis Frankian (17th, 18:23), senior Anne Randall (22nd, 18:29) and senior Keri Molt (27th, 18:37) passed through the chute in close succession.

“Saugus is the greatest team in state history,” said Saugus cross country head coach Rene Paragas at the time. “Can you say that about teams like Hart football? There’s not even an argument.”

The measuring stick for many, many years in this valley was Hart football, perennial winners of Foothill League championships and six CIF-Southern Section division championships between 1995 and 2003.

Paragas wasn’t taking a shot at Hart football as much as striking a blow for his sport.

Some people write off cross country runners.

Some people think because the sport isn’t fan-friendly due to the difficulty of following runners around a course that it loses its entertainment value. Therefore, it devalues the athletes involved.

They may not strike a ball or strike each other, nonetheless they battle in competition at the highest level California has to offer.

Saugus girls cross country became the second team in Santa Clarita Valley history to win three straight state titles.

The other?

A cross country team.

The Hart boys teams of 1990, 1991 and 1992 also pulled off the trick.

The Saugus girls cross country team then went out and finished second nationally to running juggernaut Manlius of New York at the Nike Cross Nationals Dec. 6.

The list of accomplishments in 2008 was long.

On Sept. 13, the Centurions broke their own course record at the Seaside Invitational.

They dominated the Foothill League season. On Oct. 13, their runners finished first through sixth.

Twelve days later, the girls beat their own course record at the 51st annual Reebok Mt. SAC Cross Country invitational at Mt. San Antonio College.

Is there any doubt that the Saugus girls cross country team is The Signal’s 2008-09 Team of the Year?

cosborne@the-signal.com

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