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Solid Cents and a cat rises

Saugus boys and girls cross country win Foothill opener, but West Ranch’s Jennifer Owen takes girls

Posted: September 30, 2009 10:00 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A group of boys runners starts off the first Foothill League meet Wednesday at Central Park.

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After all the talk of parity entering Foothill League boys cross country, Saugus showed Wednesday that it’s still the team to beat.

And the Saugus girls? They’re OK, too.

Both Centurion teams went 5-0 against the rest of the Foothill League at Central Park in the first league meet. The meet was originally scheduled for last Thursday but was postponed due to poor air quality.

The Saugus boys edged second-place Golden Valley by a score of 25-31. The Grizzlies went 4-1, and Canyon went 3-2 to finish third. Valencia went 2-3 and finished fourth, while fifth-place Hart was 1-4 and sixth-place West Ranch went 0-5.

The Centurion girls beat West Ranch 25-34, while Canyon was third and Valencia was fourth. Golden Valley was fifth and Hart was sixth.

“The boys had to run hard to win,” said Saugus head coach Rene Paragas. “It wasn’t an easy thing. The girls had to hold back. They actually ran harder than I wanted them to.”

Saugus is traveling to Rochester, N.Y., this weekend to take part in the nationally renowned McQuaid Invitational.

The Centurions girls have hopes of winning in New York, which put Saugus in a tricky spot for the first league meet.

“We wanted to protect our league title without killing ourselves for New York,” Paragas said.

West Ranch junior Jennifer Owen took advantage and became the first non-Centurion to win a girls Foothill League race since the 2004 league finals.

Owen finished with a time of 17 minutes, 59 seconds, although she admitted she can still run faster.

“I just wasn’t feeling it today,” she said. “(The win) helps me build confidence because I didn’t have any last year. There are a lot of sharp turns (on the course). I’m not good at those at all.”

Golden Valley’s Seth Totten finished first with a dominant time of 14:58, which was 14 seconds faster than Canyon’s Thomas McGuan, who crossed at 15:12.

“It’s a monkey off my back,” said Totten, who broke his foot late last year at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. “It felt really good to compete.”

West Ranch’s Bailey Miller finished second on the girls’ side at 18:04, followed by Saugus’ Stephanie Bulder (18:10.25), Karis Frankian (18:10.61) and defending CIF State Division II champion Kaylin Mahoney (18:10.93).

It was the kind of race that West Ranch head coach Randy Smith expected to see.

“We’re on the bubble whether we’re going to make it to state in Division II,” he said. “We’re strong up front but we really need to work on the four-five-six runners.”

Valencia’s Falco DiGiallonardo kicked strongly, but couldn’t catch McGuan and finished third at 15:12.90.

“I was really proud of (McGuan),” said Canyon head coach Paul Broneer. “He ran a perfectly smart race. We knew Falco had a great kick and we had to get at least 30 or 40 yards ahead of him at the 200-yard mark.”

Hart’s Sam Peckham was fourth at 15:24, while Saugus’ Robert Pion was the first Centurion across the finish line at 15:29.

Hart head coach Larry David said his team was battling injuries and illness.

“We had to look to our sixth and seventh scorers, and you can’t do that in this league,” he said.

Golden Valley’s second-place finish was bolstered Avery McDougal (15:43), Kristian Martinez (15:55) and Nolan DelValle (15:57), who all wound up in the top 15.

“People were gunning for us because we’re ranked highly,” said co-head coach Chris Evans, whose Grizzlies are currently No. 3 in the CIF State Division III rankings according to “Our boys are dealing with that. We were impressed the boys stepped up.”

Valencia’s top finisher on the girls’ side was Sarah Adams, who was seventh with a time of 18:15.

After going winless in the league last year, Valencia co-head coach Jeff Gilkey was pleased with his girls’ reaction to going 2-3 in the first league meet.

“Last year the girls were 0-5 all year long, and now they’re going, ‘Aww, fourth,’” he said. “It’s definitely a completely different girls team.”

NOTES: Hayley Parkinson was Canyon’s top girls runner, finishing ninth at 18:22 ... Golden Valley’s Chelsea Totten was 12th, clocking in at 18:29 ... Hart’s Grace Zamudio was right behind Totten at 18:30 ... Zack Bond was the first West Ranch boy to cross the finish line with a time of 17:46 ... Saugus’ Alec Nelson, the top returner on the boys’ side, is still recovering from an injury and finished 15th with a time of 16:08. For the girls, Saugus senior captain Amber Murakami missed the meet while also recovering from an injury.



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