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Boys and Girls Cross Country: Five for Fresno

Mahoney wins individual title; five teams qualify for the CIF state meet

Posted: November 21, 2009 9:31 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Golden Valley's Seth Totten runs during the CIF-Southern Section Division III final on Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College. Totten took fifth place.

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WALNUT - The Saugus girls cross country team is headed back to the state meet, attempting to do something that no other girls cross country team in California history has done.

If the Centurions win, they will be the only team to win four state championships in a row.

They're hardly, however, the only local team headed to Fresno.

All five Santa Clarita Valley teams at Saturday's CIF-Southern Section Cross Country finals advanced to the CIF state meet next weekend, led by the Saugus girls' CIF-SS Division II team championship.

The Saugus, Canyon and Golden Valley boys also finished in the top seven in their division at Mt. San Antonio College, and the West Ranch girls qualified for the first state meet in school history.

Hart's Sam Peckham ran as an individual but did not advance in a deep Division II field.

Saugus junior Kaylin Mahoney won the CIF-SS Division II individual championship for the second straight year, finishing with a time of 17 minutes, 22 seconds.

The defending CIF State Division II individual champion ran a smart race, staying with the lead runners until the third and final mile.

"The plan was to stick to whoever's in front until ‘Poop-out Hill,'" she said, referring to the hill whose downhill slope marks the start of the third mile. "I knew if I could get to the top, I knew I could push it from there."

Teammate Karis Frankian was fourth overall with a time of 17:31, while Stephanie Bulder was sixth at 17:50. Amber Murakami was 16th at 18:15 and Merissa Kado ran the race in 18:17 to finish 21st.

Saugus wound up with 41 points and needed every place, because Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach was right on its heels with a score of 49.

Saugus head coach Rene Paragas credited Mira Costa for giving a good effort.

The Centurions boys, meanwhile, gave their best effort of the season.

A year after missing the state meet on a tiebreaker, the boys finished fourth overall in the Division II race, led by Alec Nelson's 13th-place time of 15:30.

Robert Pion was milliseconds behind Nelson in 14th place overall, and Logan Smith was 23rd at 15:42. A.J. Hebert clocked in at 16:07, good for 56th, and Alan Gately finished 72nd at 16:16 to give the Cents 144 total points.

Saugus lagged at the back of the pack for the first mile, but Paragas said his boys knew that at Mt. SAC, the last half-mile is where the race is really won.

They delivered in the end, and they're headed to Fresno because of it.

"We had aspirations of being a (state) podium team," Paragas said. "Gately and Logan ran the races of their lives. We've been close so many times and these guys did it."

Despite all the first-year varsity runners on this year's team, Nelson said the runners stuck together.

"It was weird," he said. "Last year I thought we'd make it for sure. This team's gotten a lot closer. It seems like we've bonded better."

The West Ranch girls bonded, too, and it yielded a big reward.

Two years ago, the Wildcats had never even won a dual meet.

Now, they're headed to the first CIF State Division II meet in school history.

"I didn't really believe we could do it until midway through last year," said West Ranch head coach Randy Smith. "This is a talented bunch."

West Ranch finished seventh as a team and its five scorers totaled 230 points, 17 ahead of eighth-place Arroyo Grande.

Jennifer Owen bounced back from an off-race last week to finish 25th at 18:27, while Ashley Welker was 28th at 18:32 and Bailey Miller wound up 33rd at 18:37.

The key to the season, however, has been the contributions of the fourth and fifth runners.

On Saturday, they came through.

Marissa Yabko finished 83rd with a time of 19:44 and Samantha Phillips finished 86th at 19:46, which gave the Wildcats the push they needed.

"They've always had it in them, but it's all about wanting it," Owen said. "It's mind over matter."

The same could be said for the Canyon boys, who finished sixth in the Division II race to qualify for the state meet.

Foothill League runner-up Tommy McGuan led all Division II locals with a sixth-place time of 15:19.

He admitted that at the beginning of the summer he was focused on getting to the state meet as an individual because he didn't think the team could do it.

"We're just really stoked," he said. "I told the guys before the race began that we belong here."

His teammates proved him right.

Running as a solid pack, Michel Noris finished 37th at 15:56, Tyler Tockstein finished 44th at 15:59, Mason Bouchet wound up 58th at 16:10 and Sam Willis was 61st at 16:11.

Those times gave Canyon 167 points, and they were all personal records.

"I said before the season, the kids love to run and they love one another," said Canyon co-head coach Dave DeLong. "When you have those two things, you can reach your potential. Today we said let's not run for ourselves, let's run for each other."

Golden Valley finished third in the Division III boys race behind state powers Palos Verdes of Redondo Beach and St. John Bosco of Bellflower.

The Grizzlies qualified for their second straight CIF State Division III meet by racking up 124 points, led by Seth Totten's fifth-place time of 15:11.

Kristian Martinez came next with a 27th-place time of 15:54, and Danny Carrillo was 32nd at 15:59. Juan David Garcia was 33rd at 16:00 and Nolan DelValle clocked in at 16:05 to finish 42nd.

Carrillo and Garcia both took big steps forward after finishing fourth and fifth on the team, respectively, at last weekend's prelims.

Golden Valley co-head coaches Chris and Rob Evans said the individual runners felt like they could have run faster, but advancing is what really matters.

"We came together as a team and we still feel we can run faster," Rob said.

Peckham won't be moving on to Fresno, but it certainly wasn't for lack of effort.

The Hart sophomore finished 17th in the Division II race with a time of 15:36, the second-best mark of any sophomore in the division.

But he needed to finish among the top five runners whose teams didn't qualify for the state meet, and several strong upperclassmen finished ahead of him in that regard, including Camarillo's Heyden Wooff and Edison's Matt McElroy.

Peckham received support from a number of Hart coaches and runners who made the trip to Mt. San Antonio College to cheer him on.

"Just being here close enough to have done it is a confidence boost," he said. "I left it all out there. I'd like to thank my coaches and teammates for coming out."

NOTES: Saugus' Danielle Hernando, who was the team's second-place finisher at last weekend's prelims, was knocked down early in the race but gutted out a 34th-place time of 18:37 ... Glendora won the CIF-SS Division II boys team title with 96 points and an overall time of 1 hour, 18 minutes, 38 seconds, while Loyola phenom Elias Gedyon won the individual title with a time of 14:31 ... Palos Verdes was the CIF-SS Division III boys champion with 52 points and a time of 1:16:56, and South Pasadena's Samuel Pons won the individual title with a time of 14:57.


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