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Prep cross country: No matter what

Saugus girls win seventh straight league title; boys also champions

Posted: November 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Saugus seniors A.J. Yarnall, left, and Rodrigo Ornelas head to the finish of Thursday’s Foothill League cross country finals at Central Park. Saugus seniors A.J. Yarnall, left, and Rodrigo Ornelas head to the finish of Thursday’s Foothill League cross country finals at Central Park.
Saugus seniors A.J. Yarnall, left, and Rodrigo Ornelas head to the finish of Thursday’s Foothill League cross country finals at Central Park.

Change up the course all you want. Put them up against an ever-improving, deep and talented group of runners in the Foothill League.

Throw any curveball you want at Saugus cross country, it doesn’t seem to change the fact that it is still the class of the league — by a longshot.

Sophomore Samantha Ortega won her second straight Foothill race on her way to an individual league title on Thursday at Central Park to lead the Saugus girls to a seventh straight team championship.

“We want to keep the legend going on and on and on and make it bigger and bigger and bigger,” Ortega said of Saugus’ streak. Her winning time was 17 minutes 25.6 seconds, almost 11 seconds clear of Golden Valley senior Chelsey Totten.

The Centurions were hardly challenged all season in league, and Thursday was no different. Saugus had all five of its scoring runners finish in the top 10.

In a much closer race, Saugus’ Rodrigo Ornelas beat teammates A.J. Yarnall in a photo finish to take the boys Foothill crown with a time of 15:24.6 to edge Yarnall’s 15:24.8.

The two seniors helped the Centurions capture their sixth league title in the past seven years by finishing the race in almost identical fashion to the previous league race on Oct. 15.

Both runners had broken free from third-place finisher Nolan Del Valle of Golden Valley and were neck-and-neck through the final 60 meters.

The only difference this time, Ornelas, a senior, jolted in front for a league crown in his first year on varsity.

“I literally thought of all this, ‘After four years of hard work moving up, I just had to keep pushing and keep going forward. This is it. This is league finals. You’ve got to go.’” Ornelas said.

After Golden Valley knocked Saugus off its league title perch last season, the Centurions found themselves back on top by a relatively comfortable margin, placing four runners in the top eight and five in the top 14.

“This was inevitable with the talent we had coming up,” Yarnall said of winning league. “It was just the culmination of everything.”

The third, fourth and fifth finishers were all identical to the second league meet in the boys race. Del Valle took third in 15:31.5, Hart’s Josh Sherfey came in fourth (15:34.5) and Canyon’s Zach Wims was fifth in 15:35.1.

Golden Valley hung onto second place overall despite a strong finish from third-place Hart. That left the Canyon in fourth, West Ranch fifth and Valencia sixth on the boys side.

“I’m so happy with how the team did,” Sherfey said. “I knew coming into the season we had what it took to challenge Saugus.”

In girls, Golden Valley finished second and West Ranch finished third to clinch a postseason berth by beating fourth-place Canyon by a single point. The Valencia girls were fifth and Hart was sixth to round out the girls final standings.

Totten, who easily won Foothill No. 1 in September, led for parts of Thursday’s race until Ortega sprinted ahead with a little less than a mile to go.

Totten finished second in 17:36.3, but there were plenty of Saugus uniforms to follow, including Abigail Frankian (third, 17:42.8), Nina Sassano (eighth, 18:27.7), Darby LaPlant (ninth, 18:36.1) and Olivia Altieri (10th, 18:36.5).

“That must have been very intimidating for everyone seeing these four Saugus girls up front,” said Golden Valley head coach Marc Minasian. “They ran very well.”

The Grizzlies had another runner finish in the top five, as Bianca Tinoco took fifth in 18:12.3.

With Valencia senior and No. 1 runner Maddie Dignadice still out with an injury, her teammate Olivia Pear ran her best league race of the season with a fourth-place time of 17:53.6, which puts her as the Vikings’ lone individual to qualify for CIF prelims on Nov. 10 at Mt. San Antonio College.

The top three teams in league and the top six individual finishers in each race advance to the CIF postseason.

That means the Saugus, Golden Valley and Hart boys move on, as do the Saugus, Golden Valley and West Ranch girls.

Other than Pear, the only other runner to qualify as an individual on a non-qualifying team was Wims.

Boys results:

1. Rodrigo Ornelas (Saugus) — 15:24.6

2. A.J. Yarnall (Saugus) — 15:24.8

3. Nolan Del Valle (Golden Valley) — 15:31.5

4. Josh Sherfey (Hart) — 15:34.5

5. Zach Wims (Canyon) — 15:35.1

6. Brendan Tinoco (Golden Valley) — 15:43.4

7. Austin Fisher (Saugus) — 15:50.0

8. Alex Pearson (Saugus) — 15:53.3

9. Ruben Rubira (Hart) — 15:55.5

10. Arnold Bautista (Golden Valley) — 15:56.4

11. Tucker Welker (West Ranch) — 15:57.4

12. William Walker (Hart) — 15:58.6

13. Andres Orona (Hart) — 15:59.1

14. Anthony Janaslani (Saugus) — 15:59.9

15. Billy Anthony (Saugus) — 16:02.1

Girls results:

1. Samantha Ortega (Saugus) — 17:25.6

2. Chelsey Totten (Golden Valley) — 17:36.3

3. Abigail Frankian (Saugus) — 17:42.8

4. Olivia Pear (Valencia) — 17:53.6

5. Bianca Tinoco (Golden Valley) — 18:12.3

6. Taylor Welker (West Ranch) — 18:19.7

7. Valeria Soto (Canyon) — 18:23.0

8. Nina Sassano (Saugus) — 18:27.7

9. Darby LaPlant (Saugus) — 18:36.1

10. Olivia Altieri (Saugus) — 18:36.5

11. Madison Hills (Canyon) ­— 18:37.0

12. Abby Buckhoff
(Golden Valley) ­— 18:39.7

13. Alex Hill (Saugus) ­— 18:43.2

14. Augustina Hansen (Hart) — 18:51.1

15. Marisa Magsarili (West Ranch) — 18:55.7



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