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Emotions high at historic finals

Golden Valley boys qualify for their first state meet

Posted: November 22, 2008 9:34 p.m.
Updated: November 23, 2008 4:57 a.m.

Members of the Saugus girls cross country team, including head coach Rene Paragas, left, show off their CIF-SS Division II Cross Country Championship plaque Saturday at Mt. SAC in Walnut.

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Elation was felt by the Saugus girls and the Golden Valley boys cross country teams Saturday at the CIF-Southern Section Cross Country Finals at Mt. San Antonio College at Walnut.|

Heartbreak was part of Saugus' boys and Canyon's girls teams in their 2.95-mile Division II races, as both finished eighth, missing a qualifying spot in the CIF State Meet by one place.

Out of five teams from the Santa Clarita Valley who ran in the finals, the Centurion girls and the Grizzly boys qualified for the state meet, to be held on Nov. 29 at Woodward Park in Fresno. West Ranch finished 13th in the Division I girls meet and did not qualify for state competition.

"Any time you win a CIF championship meet, it's a great thing," said Saugus head coach Rene Paragas said. "We collected our third straight, fourth overall."

Saugus' five scoring runners of Kaylin Mahoney, Amber Murakami, Stephanie Bulder, Anne Randall and Brianna Jauregui combined to score 21 points in the Division II meet.

It was the second-lowest score in CIF-SS cross country meet history, boys or girls, in all divisions. The Centurions' team time was 1 hour, 28 minutes, 20 seconds.

The victory gave the team a three-peat. In 2006 and 2007, the Centurions won the CIF-SS Division I meet. They also won the state meet in both of those seasons.

Mahoney became the first-ever Saugus girls runner to win a CIF-Southern Section meet, with a time of 17 minute, 1 second. She also broke a team record previously set in 2005 at the Mt. SAC Invitational by Shannon Murakami (17:08).

"Kaylin ran extremely well," Paragas said. "Amber set a personal record. This isn't a race we were setting ourselves up for. It's just a race on the road to a state championship. We were trying to get used to that kind of speed."

Murakami came in third (17:38). Bulder followed in sixth (17:46), Randall was seventh (17:53) and Jauregui finished eighth (18:02). Team captain Keri Molt finished 11th (18:07).

"We were in total shock when we learned we had scored so low," Murakami said. "That was so surprising. I guess a lot of it was determination. We work so well together."

Golden Valley qualified for the first state meet in its athletic program's history. The Grizzlies came in seventh in the Division III boys meet with 178 points.

"On one hand, it's kind of unreal," said Golden Valley co-head coach Rob Evans. "On the other hand, it comes as no surprise that they made it. It's an impressive accomplishment to be one of seven teams from the entire section going to the state meet."

Seth Totten finished sixth (15:20), despite being pushed down and having to get back up on his hands and knees.

The Grizzlies' depth kicked in, with Johnny Tapia (29th, 16:12), Danny Carrillo (42nd, 16:22), Luc Schutz (63rd, 16:40) and Gabe Vasquez (72nd, 16:46) packing it in.

Saugus' boys team finished eighth, just missing out on going to Fresno as one of the top seven teams.

In the sport's version of overtime, the Centurions missed qualifying for state as one of the top seven teams by one runner.

Both Ayala and Saugus tied each other with 224 points after five runners crossed the finish line.

The Bulldogs' sixth runner, Cole Firman, came across with a 74th-place time (16:29). That was the actual difference as Camden McAlister, the Centurions' sixth runner, was 105th (17:05).

According to the CIF cross country poll, the Foothill League champions were ranked third in Division II. Last season, it finished eight points behind the seventh and final spot.

This season, they reached the CIF-SS Finals for the first time in 10 seasons.

"That's just the way it goes," Paragas said. "That's part of the thrill of the sport. It was the difference between qualifying and celebration. We couldn't get over the final barrier."

Saugus junior Alec Nelson was the first runner for Saugus in 17th place (15:41). Brandon Jauregui finished 28th (15:59). He was one of four seniors on the team. Joey Eledge (38th, 16:07) was another.

Ayala's depth came up big for them. Tyler Reed (10th, 15:19), Taylor Nasu (47th, 16:10), Robert Tanner (57th, 16:16), Justin Wright (65th, 16:24) and Alex Keifer (66th, 16:25) beat the Cents' top three, along with Logan Smith (64th, 16:23) and Kevin Heinemann (98th, 16:51).

"It was definitely heartbreaking," Brandon Jauregui said. "We all got injured at the same time. For the past three weeks, I was running with a left ankle injury. Alec was still sick from last week. At warmups, I knew it was going to be a tough race."

Canyon finished with 240 points, 20 behind Arroyo Grande. The Cowboys had a team time of 97:25, an improvement of 2:14 from its prelims performance.

Alyssa Selve came in 26th (18:50), Hayley Parkinson was 31st (18:57), Jessica Gatton finished 60th (19:46), followed by Elvia Contreras (62nd, 19:47) and Gillian Lopez (76th (20:05). All five runners had anywhere from a 7-second to 65-second improvement from their prelim times.

West Ranch junior Bailey Miller (30th, 18:42) was followed by freshmen Ashley Welker (50th, 19:03) Jennifer Owen (70th, 19:28) and Samantha Phillips (84th, 19:50). Sophomore Lauren Sitler was 88th (19:56). The Wildcats finished with 294 points.

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