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Foothill League girls track and field preview: Turnover effects

Girls: 2013 takes on a different look

Posted: March 19, 2013 10:49 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2013 10:49 p.m.

Golden Valley runner Imani Dixon is one of the Grizzlies top returning sprinters in 2013.

 

 

Three new coaches, three CIF state qualifiers graduated and a couple of athlete transfers.

It’s fair to say the 2013 version of the Foothill League in girls track and field is far different than the previous year.

But that doesn’t mean the league will lack talent or excitement.

Defending Foothill champion Canyon is proving it’s not just a flash in the pan, but the second and third place finishers from last year, Golden Valley and Saugus, are right on Canyon’s tail.

And that doesn’t count out Valencia, West Ranch and Hart from making noise at the league finals and into the postseason with such strong talent across nearly every event.

 

Canyon

The 2012 season will be a tough act to follow for Canyon, which won its first league crown since 2004 and had two athletes win CIF-Southern Section titles, one of which went to the state finals.

Those two athletes, Tiffini Stone and Taylor Thomas, graduated, leaving the Cowboys in need of some quick recuperation.

“We’ve got other kids well developed,” said Canyon head coach Paul Broneer. “And that’s what it’s all about is keeping the engine running.”

The sprints may be a strength for Canyon, as seniors Erica Anunwah and Ahlexhys Hixon will lead the pack.

In the hurdles, senior Lindsey Jakeman returns to her comfort zone after running in distance events last year to help balance the team’s top athletes.

Jakeman ran hurdles events successfully as a freshman and sophomore.

Sophomore Kendall Bietsch and senior Michelle Hogan will join Anunwah and Hixon in sprint relays, including the 1,600-meter spring medley where the four currently own the state’s best time at 4 minutes, 12.13 seconds, according to prepcaltrack.com.

Canyon also has senior Taylor Gaines to score points in the shot put and discus, while sophomore pole vaulter Raely Abbinanti adds another dimension to the team.

Seniors Madison Hills and Valeria Soto will contend in the distance events.

 

Golden Valley

After finishing second in league the last two seasons, all of Golden Valley’s returning athletes are hungry.

And there are a lot of them.

Golden Valley will have league title contenders in several events, including senior Chelsey Totten, the defending Foothill 1,600 meter champion, and senior Courtney Maduike, the defending discus and shot put champion.

“If things fall into place and we can stay healthy ... I think we’re going to do OK,” said Golden Valley head coach John Quam.

The Grizzlies also have sophomore Crystal Orellana, who is one of the league’s top returning jumpers and will help out in sprints.

Also strong in the sprints will be senior Imani Dixon, who was part of a 4x400 relay team that reached the CIF-SS finals.

Jada Slexman (now a junior) and Totten were also part of that relay team.

Possibly the most promising freshman in the league is sprinter Azaria Hill, who broke a meet record in the 100 meters with a time of 12.32 seconds earlier this month at the SCV Invitational.

Junior Caitlyn Zindroski also will add points for the Grizzlies in the hurdles.

 

Saugus

Due to its incredibly successful tradition of high-caliber distance runners, Saugus can always contend in league meets.

But after its streak of seven straight Foothill championships was ended last year by Canyon, Saugus wants to do more than just contend.

“It’s definitely something to be consistent every year,” said first-year head coach David Russell, who replaced John McKenzie after one year at the helm. “That’s probably one of the most difficult things to do year after year is to stay successful.”

It begins with runners like sophomore Samantha Ortega and seniors Heidi Hoslet and Katie Huntington. The three of them will all likely finish near the top of the league in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs.

Saugus also has a strong cast returning in the sprints with sophomores Leah Eldridge and Avery Shulhofer. They’ll be joined by impressive freshman Elise Nogle.

Senior Rachel Eaton’s abilities in the high jump and triple jump are already well documented for the Centurions.

Emily Orr is another senior who will help Saugus with her versatility in several sprint events and jumps.

Hurdles will also be a strong event for Saugus, led by senior Monica Allen and junior Jenna Mears.

 

Valencia

Valencia lost one athlete and gained another via school transfer.

What’s left is a mixed bag for the Vikings.

Senior sprinter Xiomara Perkins comes in from West Ranch, and she’ll fill the open spot left by Chanel Rogers, a talented sophomore sprinter who transferred to Alemany High.

Beyond that, Valencia hopes to get a good chunk of points in the distance events.

“I definitely think that we’re going to mix it up pretty well in some areas for sure,” said Valencia head coach Jeff Gilkey. “We definitely have some strengths, some very good athletes.”

On the distance side, the Vikings have seniors Olivia Pear to focus mostly on the 800 and fellow senior Maddie Dignadice to run the 1,600 and 3,200.

In addition to Perkins, Valencia has an all-around athlete in senior Jennifer Anumba to help out in sprints and jumps.

Junior Briana Pica looks to be among the top pole vaulters in league and sophomore Kaitlyn Matthews has the potential to contend for a top spot in the high jump.

 

West Ranch

As one of the youngest teams in the league, West Ranch is moving its lineup around.

The goal is to get the most out of a group of athletes with a lot of upside.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion about how to balance it out as much as possible and how to put athletes where they’re most likely to succeed,” said West Ranch head coach Steve Welker.

Those included in West Ranch’s core group are junior Taylor Welker and sophomore Marisa Magsarili, a pair of strong distance runners.

Claudia Rearden is an athletic senior and first-year track and field athlete who will run hurdles events.

All four members of last year’s league champion 4x100 relay team moved on, but sophomore Rachel Smith comes in to help in the sprints.

Seniors Brianna Hodge and Ashley Foster brings needed experience to the table in the jumpers and throws, respectively.

 

Hart

If Hart is going to turn things around, it will have to start with some of its young athletes with lots of potential.

That includes two returning sophomores, distance runner Augustina Hansen and thrower Jennifer Roldan.

Senior sprinter Presley Lambert, who is coming off a knee injury from soccer season, will be another key point-scorer and will provide some valuable varsity experience on a young team.

“I’m hoping we get a little bit more adept on the girls side,” said Hart head coach Gio Guzman, whose team took sixth place in Foothill last year. “It’s always hard to build a girls team when this valley is so competitive when it comes to club soccer. You lose a lot of great girls to that.”

Those who will help out for the Indians include senior hurdler Lindsey Estrada, junior jumper Cara Newberry and senior sprinter/distance runner Morgan Pedrick.

 

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