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Centurions XC takes fourth at Nationals

Saugus cross country finishes its third straight season with a top-five finish; GV’s Totten wraps up

Posted: December 5, 2009 10:37 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2009 4:30 a.m.
For the fourth straight year, no cross country team could keep up with Fayetteville-Manlius of New York at the Nike Cross Nationals.

After finishing second in the country the last two seasons, the Saugus girls finished fourth with a team time of 1 hour, 34 minutes, 56.40 seconds on Saturday in Portland, Ore.

The catch?

Six of their top seven runners are back next season.

“This is a young team,” said Saugus head coach Rene Paragas. “This was, for lack of a better word, a rebuilding year for us. Basically, we planned it out that it was going to be a two-year process. This is just a check point.”

Also on Saturday, Golden Valley’s Seth Totten finished 17th as an individual at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships West Regional, posting a time of 16 minutes flat.

Junior Kaylin Mahoney paced the Centurions with a time of 18:10.40, good for 13th overall out of 199 runners.

Sophomore Karis Frankian was 65th with a time of 18:58.10, junior Stephanie Bulder was 79th at 19:05.30, junior Danielle Hernando was 92nd at 19:16.50, and senior Amber Murakami finished 106th at 19:26.10.

Saugus’ other two runners were junior Merissa Kado (120th with a time of 19:44.30) and sophomore Emily McCarty (134th at 19:58.40).

Running under the moniker “Newhall XC Club,” Saugus finished with 191 points, 30 points behind third-place Fort Collins XC Club of Colorado and four points ahead of fifth-place Rocky River XC Club of Cleveland, Ohio.

Fayetteville-Manlius finished with 74 points and a team time of 1:31:46.20 to win its fourth straight national championship.

Catherine Flood of Des Moines XC Club won the individual championship with a time of 17:47.20.

“It definitely wasn’t our best race but it was a solid performance, something we’re very comfortable with,” Paragas said. “A lot of girls got experience on the course that hadn’t had it.”

Heading into the race, the Centurions wanted to make sure they didn’t get engulfed in the large pack of runners at the beginning.

“We went out harder than we normally do,” Paragas said. “That cost us later. This course just doesn’t lend itself to going out easy.

“We gave our best effort. Three straight top-five finishes in the nation is something to be proud of.”

With all the talent coming back, Saugus could very easily make that four straight.

As for Totten, he was taking part in his second straight Foot Locker championships regional, but he was forced to pull out of last year’s race due to an injury.

Totten suffered another early calamity on Saturday, but this time it didn’t prevent him from finishing.

With 175 runners taking part in the race, the course at Mt. San Antonio College bottlenecked early, trapping Totten in the pack.

“It was a little bit frustrating,” he said. “I felt like I was in shape to finish in the top 10. But I ran as hard as I could.”

Totten would have had to finish in the top 10 to advance to next weekend’s national meet in San Diego.

But he kept pushing, and he wound up beating every runner who finished ahead of him at the CIF State Division III meet last weekend.

“We were most impressed with his poise, his determination and his fight,” said Golden Valley co-head coach Chris Evans. “It would have been easy to pack it in, and he didn’t. He raced the whole race.”

Totten won the 2009 Foothill League championship and finished seventh overall in the state in Division III, capping the finest cross country career in Golden Valley’s young history.

“Every race he went into, we talked about putting him in the position to not just compete but to try and win,” Evans said. “He grew into that a lot this year. He also matured as a team leader.”

West Ranch junior Jennifer Owen was slated to run in the Foot Locker girls’ race at Mt. Sac, but she opted to take the SAT II on Saturday instead.


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