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Not an obvious pick on the track

Posted: March 20, 2008 3:06 a.m.
Updated: May 21, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
In the fluid environment of Foothill League track and field, consensus is difficult to come by.

Graduation depletes teams and JV squads come up and replace old ones. It's hard to predict from year to year which teams will come out on top.

Look for some exciting meets to go right down to the wire.

GIRLS
Saugus
Last season: First in league, shared title with Hart
Experience is a word coach Christian Standley might not have to worry about in 2008, with three world-class seniors, Katie Dunn (1,600 and 3,200 meters), Allison Rudd (hurdles) and Heather Snyder (last year's league champion and CIF finalist in the shot put) tutoring a gaggle of younger girls.

These will include sophomore Amber Wright (100, 200, relays, long jump) and freshmen Nicole Penick (400) and Kailyn Mahoney (800 and 3,200). Of course, Dunn and Mahoney will anchor the team's distance squad, comprised mostly of Saugus' two-time defending state champion cross county team.

"Yeah, our distance runners are supremely confident," Standley said. "We expect a solid year, but for the first time in years, we might actually have to rely more on our role players. We don't have a real marquee athlete on this year's team."

Hart
Last season: First in league, shared title with Saugus

The co-champs lost enough top-line athletes for head coach Steve Hubbell to describe 2008 as a "rebuilding" year.
"We have a very young team," Hubbell said. "It's going to be hard to repeat."

Still, look for senior Dominique Lombardo (400) to lead a determined group of underclassmen paced by sophomore Allison Toledo (100 and 300 hurdles, long jump, triple jump) and freshmen Katie Trevino (100 and 200 sprints) and Grace Graham-Zamundo (800 and 3,200).

"These girls are great, and they are working extremely hard," Hubbell said. "And I'm certainly not putting them down. I just worry about the experience factor."

Canyon
Last season: Finished third in league

While the boys are running off with league titles, the distaff side of the Cowboys is attempting to make a name for itself. A third-place finish last season only has the young ladies wanting more, and 13-year skipper Paul Broneer agrees with that goal - although he can wait, if necessary.

"We have a pretty young team, but we've improved a great deal from last year," Broneer said. "I think we're a team to be reckoned with - but not this year. I believe we will really be tough in 2009. That's when opponents need to look out for us."

Leading the sophomore-dominated Cowboys is sprinter Martika Cook. Other talented 10th-graders are miler Jessica Gatton, Hayley Parkinson (3,200), Hillary Phillips (hurdler) and Jillian Lopez (pole vault). Expect big things from top half-miler, senior Wendy Cohen, as well as junior shot and discus champ Courtney Saunders.

"The talent is there, but I do worry a bit about our lack of senior leadership and experience," Broneer added.

West Ranch
Last year: Finished fifth in league

This is West Ranch's first year to have seniors, and that's very good news to first-year coach Randy Smith.

"We did very well last year, considering our youth," Smith said, "but we are a lot stronger and have much more depth this time."

That depth includes three possible all-league sprinters - junior Baaba Otoo and sophomores Kylie Long and Ceora Beijer; talented 10th-grade distance specialist Bailey Miller; sophomore hurdlers Casey Casepo and Elliana White; as well as junior high-jumper Mandy Parker.

Smith also expects his throwers, including sisters Kayley (sophomore) and Breeann (freshman) Braucher, to aid the Wildcats cause.

Golden Valley
Last season: Finished sixth

What a difference a year has made for girls track at Golden Valley. Last season, only about 70 kids showed up to participate. In 2008, however, there were more than 120. That should make new head coach Rob Evans quite happy.

"These are dedicated, hard-working kids led by a really talented group of first-year seniors," Evans said.

Leading the way for the Grizzlies are seniors Janeika Goodman (sprints), Corey Honeycutt (CIF 1,600 qualifier) and Keanna Grijalva (high and long jump), as well as junior Simone Isiguzo (sprints) and sophomore Kristine Tan (high, long and triple jump).

"Our seniors have really stepped up," Evans added. "I'm looking forward to seeing just what we can do."

BOYS
Canyon
Last season: Finished first

While some sports fans may think the recent 22-game winning streak was amazing, think again. That certainly was an impressive run by the NBA's Houston Rockets, but right here in our own backyard another streak is alive and well - Canyon boys track has not lost a dual meet in more than four years.

This year, however, things could change a bit - at least according to longtime head coach Broneer.

"We lost most everybody," he said, with an extra emphasis on that last word. "So, I'd say we're going to be the underdogs this season."

Just as quickly, though, he qualifies those words.

"But we had a very good JV team, so this might not be as much of a case of rebuilding than reloading.

Some of those "loaders" include senior hurdler Casey Adams and a trio of top league sprinters in senior Steve Worthland and juniors Nick Lofti and Charles Cusamano.

As far as distance athletes, senior Matt Phares runs the 1,600 in 4 minutes, 29 seconds, and junior Anthony Pizzo is a quality two-miler.

The field participants are led by top triple jumping juniors Harrison Hall and Tyler Nelson, and 11th-graders Nate Sparks, Alex Borbon and Vic Saunders can all high-jump over 6 feet.

"We lost a lot of senior leadership last year," Broneer said. "That's probably going to be our weakest area. We're making improvements, but those losses might be a bit difficult to overcome. We'll see."

Hart
Last season: Finished second

Oh, what could have been for the Indians last season.

A loss to Canyon was the only thing that prevented the boys from latching onto a league championship. As it was, Hart had to play bridesmaids once again.

With graduation sapping some quality leadership as well as sheer numbers from the club, look for depth to be a problem for Hubbell's charges.

"We have some exceptional athletes," he said, "but we just don't have enough of them. Numbers may be a problem at some of our meets."

Still, look for the senior-dominated Hart team to be competitive thanks to the likes of senior standouts Delano Howell (sprints), K. J. Comrie Jr. (sprints, long and triple jump), Jimmy Kelley (3,200), Chris Gill (800), Dillon Wood (hurdles) and Spencer Lloyd (shot put, discus). Junior Ted Glasnow is expected to excel in the high jump.

"Who knows?" Hubbell said. "If we get the right people in the right events at the right time, we could go 5-0. Then again, we could end up 0-5. We're not taking any team in the Foothill League for granted."

Saugus
Last season: Finished third

Standley admits that last season was a "down year after a few up ones," but he does have faith, thanks to a league championship captured by the JV Centurions.

"I believe we are going to be one of the stronger teams in the league," he said. "I'm especially proud of our sprinters. Our speed is better than it has been in a long time."

That sprint corps is led by senior Mario Wright and juniors Josh Coefield (also a quality long jumper) and Cameron Penta.

The distance group includes sophomore Alex Nelson, junior Brandon Jauregui and senior Baxter Frick, while junior Daniel Swarbrick (shot, discus) and seniors Caleb Kellogg (CIF pole vault qualifier) and Wright (high and triple jump) will lead the field event athletes.

Valencia
Last season: Finished fourth

"And a child shall lead them" might be an appropriate motto for the Vikings this year, considering the number of top sophomore talents on the roster. And while first-year coach Pat Connelly likes to speak highly of all of his kids, he is especially proud of his distance team.

The long runners include talented senior Cody Massie, junior Collin Gingrich, freshman Falco DiGiallondo and sophomores Andrew Mayada and last year's champion in the 3,200, Chris Hernadez.

Sprinters who should make a difference for Valencia are freshman Liam Howard and sophomores Zach Tartabull and Rocky Maldonado, among others.

Also look for 10th-grader Jabari Howard, a high, long and triple jump specialist, to help give his team a few points here and there.

"The problem, though, is that we are not strong enough in field events to contend for a league title right now," Connelly said. "I'd say we'll finish in third place this year."

Golden Valley
Last season: Finished fifth

"We have a really special group of sprinters this year," said Evans. "I think with these kids we can compete with anyone in the league.

These high performance athletes include seniors Paul Rudolph, Quincy Freeman, Mike Crow and David Malinoski plus sophomore Dylan Olson. Seniors Ryland del Valle and Jordan Allspaw will anchor the distance chores, while seniors Steven Lopez (high and triple jump) and Cody Katz (shot, discus) will participate in the field events.

"We have some great senior leadership on this team," Evans added. "This should be a fun season."

West Ranch
Last season: Finished sixth

There are some things more important than a track meet. Wildcats top sprinter Joe Spell developed a form of lymphoma last year and had to undergo chemotherapy treatments. He is now in remission. Spell will lead a group of talented seniors, including Michael McEnvoy (800 and 1,600), Bradley Kinzie (hurdles) and Matt Zemba (triple jump).
Joining these veterans will be highly touted juniors Michael Sitler (800) and Matt Herman. Herman set a school record of 41.3 in the 300 hurdles last year.

Sophomores Evan Stevens and Sergio Garcia should anchor the sprint team.
"We've improved a lot," Smith said. "I think we can go a long way."

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