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Prep cross country: Early look at state champs

Saugus girls, Golden Valley boys race in Seaside Invitational

Posted: September 9, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 9, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

Here’s a shocker. Saugus girls cross country is the top-ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section Division II poll.

That’s not surprising at all for a team coming off its sixth consecutive CIF State Division II title.

The bottom line is the pollsters have stopped doubting this team all together, regardless of graduation losses or talent turnover.

But perhaps more than previous years, Saugus’ stance in the polls might be based largely on reputation.

Gone are the days of dominant Centurion runners such as individual state champions Shannon Murakami and Kaylin Mahoney and former all-state runners Stephanie Bulder and Karis Frankian.

And the days of Saugus dominance don’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

On Friday, the Centurions, who lost five seniors who ran in the 2011 state meet, proved they still have plenty of depth at the Seaside Invitational in Ventura.

Both the boys and girls teams posted plenty of impressive finishes in races that featured hundreds of runners from as many as 40 different high schools around Southern California.

Abigail Frankian took third place in the junior class race with a time of 17 minutes, 50.38 seconds and Samantha Ortega finished second in the sophomore race with 17:20.06.

Other than that, it was an all-around solid day for Saugus, which saw several top 20 finishes in various races.

“We’re a bunch of blue collar runners,” said Saugus cross country head coach Rene Paragas. “We don’t expect to win any (CIF) races individually, we just want to go out there and race hard and cause some problems for people.”

Friday’s meet featured five of the Foothill League’s six cross country teams, excluding West Ranch.

Another defending state champion team, the Golden Valley boys, were in action with a team that lost five of its seven scoring runners from last year’s state meet.

Unlike Saugus though, the Grizzlies didn’t get much respect in the polls. Neither the girls nor boys could be found on the preseason CIF rankings.

“I’m happy,” said first-year Golden Valley head cross country coach Marc Minasian. “I would much rather let us do our own thing and not worry about what other people think. We will be there when it counts.”

And if this week’s meet was any indication, Minasian is right not to be worried.

The two returning seniors — Nolan Del Valle and Brendan Tinoco — finished strong in the senior race, with Del Valle coming in third (14:47.21) and Tinoco in 15th (15:21.05) out of more than 200 runners.

However, Golden Valley’s best moment of the day may have come on the girls side, as Brendan’s little sister Bianca Tinoco won the ninth-grade race with a time of 18:10.09.

“She did a great job keeping her pace and staying with three or four girls,” Minasian said. “Each one of them slowly faded away and she just ran ahead of them. She showed tremendous composure for such a young kid.”

Another big win for a Foothill League girls runner came in the senior race, where Valencia’s Maddie Dignadice claimed victory with a time of 17:26.28.

Her teammate Olivia Pear finished third in the same race in 17:41.38.

Valencia also saw Austin Fischer win the freshman boys race with a time of 16:07.65, and Hart’s Ruben Rubira won the 10th-grade boys race in 15:14.56 to round out the day’s Foothill League winners.

The Foothill League’s opening race is Sept. 20 at Central Park.

661-287-5535

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