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Prep cross country: All Saugus at Nike Nationals

Centurions’ girls team, A.J. Yarnall headed to Oregon

Posted: November 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 29, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

It’s nothing out of the ordinary for the Saugus girls cross country team.

But for Saugus senior A.J. Yarnall, it’s historic.

Following last weekend’s results at the CIF State Cross Country Championships, the Saugus girls team was selected, along with Yarnall, to compete at the Nike Cross Nationals on Saturday in Portland, Ore.

Yarnall, who was picked as an individual at-large qualifier, becomes the school’s first-ever qualifier for the Nike event on the boys side.

“I’m really proud and I’m really happy to be a part of that,” Yarnall said. “It’s an honor to be the first one and to represent my school.”

This past Saturday, Yarnall finished second individually in the CIF State Division II race with a time of 15 minutes, 9.7 seconds at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The time and the placement both broke school records at a state final.

Yarnall will be one of 45 individuals invited to the event, and those runners will join 22 seven-member teams in the same race.

“I have no idea,” Yarnall said of his expectations. “Just go out and race. Whatever happens happens. It’s probably going to be the most difficult race of my life. So I’ll just see what happens.”

The boys race begins at 11:35 a.m.

As for the girls race, which starts at 10:05 a.m., it will be the seventh straight appearance for the Saugus girls at Nike Cross Nationals, which is entering its ninth year of existence.

Saugus’ best finish is second place, which it accomplished in both 2007 and 2008. It also finished fourth in 2009 and third in 2010.

Katherine Dunn’s fifth-place finish in 2007 is the best individual finish for a Saugus runner.

The Centurions were also invited this year via one of the event’s four at-large bids.

Despite winning a Division II championship at the state finals last week, Saugus didn’t qualify automatically due to its placing across all divisions.

The Centurions were the third best team overall at the state meet, finishing behind Division I schools Great Oak of Temecula and St. Francis of Sacramento.

Each team is allowed to take seven runners with all expenses paid by Nike.

Saugus is bringing Samantha Ortega, Heidi Hoslet, Abigail Frankian, Katie Huntington, Olivia Altieri, Nina Sassano and Darby Laplant, which is the same lineup that ran at the state meet.

Hoslet, Frankian and Huntington are all making return trips to Nike Cross, where Saugus finished 12th last year.

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