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All-SCV Boys Cross Country: Saugus' A.J. Yarnall, Name etched in history

Saugus senior Yarnall among top SCV runners of all time

Posted: January 1, 2013 9:57 p.m.
Updated: January 1, 2013 9:57 p.m.

Saugus senior runner A.J. Yarnall finished second in the CIF-State finals this season and is The Signal's All-SCV Boys Runner of the Year.

At the end of the Foothill League season, there was legitimate debate about who could be considered The Signal’s All-Santa Clarita Valley Male Runner of the Year.

By the time the postseason was finished, there was no question about it.

Saugus senior A.J. Yarnall is our pick for best boys runner in 2012, though he can also enter the conversation for the best all-time in SCV history.

His second-place individual finish at the CIF State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 24 in the Division II race tied for the best ever by a male runner from the SCV.

Former Canyon High runners Dave Hartman (1990) and Luke Llamas (2001) also took second at the state meet in Division I.

No male runner from an SCV school has ever won an individual prep state title, though Yarnall may have come closer than anyone.

He finished in 15 minutes, 9.7 seconds, which is a school record at the state meet. Dos Pueblos’ Bryan Fernandez beat Yarnall by just 1.4 seconds for the title.

Yarnall’s gutsy performance helped Saugus take second place as a team in state Division II, which also matched a school best finish.

It also earned the senior an at-large bid to Nike Cross Nationals, making him the first Saugus boys runner in school history to compete in a national cross country championship.

The Saugus boys also finished second in state in 2010, but Yarnall was a part of that team too, finishing 29th as a sophomore.

Despite the fact that it was Saugus senior Rodrigo Ornelas — not Yarnall — that won this year’s Foothill title, Yarnall clearly separated himself at the sectional and state finals.

In the CIF-Southern Section Division II championships on Nov. 17, Yarnall’s fourth-place finish led the Centurions to a team second-place finish.

Coming into the fall, Yarnall was nursing a hamstring injury he suffered last spring during track and field season.

It wasn’t until the second of three Foothill meets when the senior said he felt like he was 100 percent.

He won that race on Oct. 15 after outkicking Ornelas down the stretch. Two weeks later at the league finals, it was down to the same two Saugus runners.

This time, Ornelas edged out Yarnall for the individual victory. As a team, Saugus won league by a longshot.

And although Yarnall fell just short of both league and state title crowns, his name will forever be etched into Saugus High’s rich cross country history.

Season in Review

• Canyon senior Zach Wims pulled in front of Golden Valley’s Nolan Del Valle for a surprising victory in Foothill League meet No. 1 on Sept. 20. Wims ran the Central Park course in 15 minutes, 22.88 seconds to become Canyon’s first winner at a league meet since 2006.

• Saugus senior Rodrigo Ornelas (15:24.6) and Saugus sophomore Samantha Ortega (17:25.6) won the boys and girls individual league title, respectively, at the Foothill finals on Nov. 1. The Saugus girls team also claimed its seventh straight league title and the boys team won league for the sixth time in seven years.

Final records


Saugus: 20-0

Golden Valley: 14-6

Hart: 13-7

Canyon: 9-11

West Ranch: 4-16

Valencia: 0-20


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