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Prep cross country: Cents go national

Saugus girls complete season with 17th-place finish at Nike Cross Nationals; Yar

Posted: December 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The Saugus girls cross country team concluded its season Saturday at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., finishing 17th overall in the girls race on a course made more difficult due to its muddy conditions.

Saugus’ A.J. Yarnall, the lone male competitor for the school, came in 41st overall with a time of 18 minutes, 4 seconds.

Samantha Ortega, who finished second at the state meet last week, was the Centurions’ top finisher, coming in 25th among runners competeting with a team and 61st overall, with a time of 20:57.

It was a bittersweet moment for Ortega, who fell early in the race and struggled to regain her footing.

“It was in the beginning — the first 200 meters,” Ortega said. “A girl in front of me had fallen and I couldn’t get around her. It was kind of disappointing. I just couldn’t gain back the momentum I had in the start and never really caught up.”

The Saugus team consisted of seven runners: Ortega, Katie Huntington (65th in the team competition, 22:00), Abigail Frankian (89th, 22:22), Olivia Altieri (103rd, 22:45), Heidi Hoslet (106th, 22:47), Nina Sassano (116, 22:58) and Darby LaPlant (141st, 23:42).

For complete overall results, click here

Despite projections of rain, the weather remained dry during the race. Nonetheless, the course remained muddy and hampered some of Saugus’ runners.

“This is my third time up in Oregon, and this race was the muddiest it has ever been,” Huntington said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it was the hardest race of my life. I think it was just the mud because I love this course. I love the obstacles and I don’t pay attention to the people there because there’s so many of them — it was the mud.”

The team returned to the event Saturday after receiving an at-large bid based on its finish in the CIF state meet. Yarnall earned an individual at-large bid.

Yarnall became the first Saugus runner in school history to qualify for the boys event, which began nine years ago.

Because school affiliations were not officially recognized at the event, the girls ran as team Santa Clarita, and finished with a team time of 110:51.

It was the Saugus girls seventh straight trip to the event, which came just a week after the Centurions earned their state-record seventh consecutive CIF State Division II title.

Saugus has twice finished second (2007, 2009) at Nike Cross Nationals, and has also come in third (2010) and fourth (2009).

Last season, they finished 12th.

“I enjoyed this year the most, too. All the new people you can meet and we still have so much fun and there’s so much to enjoy here,” Huntington said. “But there’s also more goals out there. We’re trying to make people know we are California and this is what we’ve got.”



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