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Year in Review: Saugus - year of contrast

Posted: June 27, 2013 8:43 p.m.
Updated: June 27, 2013 8:43 p.m.

The Saugus boys volleyball team picked up one of the school's top athletic highlights this season, defeating Valencia 3-1 on March 21 to end the Vikings' 112-match Foothill League winning streak.

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The 2012-2013 season was a tale of two distinctly different themes for the Saugus High athletic program.

As a whole, it was a season of unrealized potential, with a number of teams falling short of high preseason expectations.

But none of that will be remembered when the archives are popped open in future years.

That’s because the highlight of the Saugus school year rests in three places: the cross country course, the track, and in the pool.

On Nov. 24, 2012 Saugus girls cross country continued its historic run, securing a record seventh straight CIF State Cross Country championship by 11 points over La Costa Canyon.

Samantha Ortega, a sophomore in her first season of competitive running, finished second overall and was named All-Santa Clarita Valley Girls Runner of the Year.

The boys team made school history on the same day, placing second in the state with senior A.J. Yarnall finishing second overall. Yarnall was named The Signal’s All-SCV Boys Runner of the Year.

The spring was a tale of individual dominance, as Ortega took to the track and finished 11th in the state in the 3,200 final a week after running a personal-best 10 minutes, 30.68 seconds at the CIF-SS Masters Meet.

In the pool, another sophomore, Abbey Weitzeil, carried the Saugus torch.

She was far and away the best swimmer in the Foothill League, winning two Foothill League and CIF titles in record times.

The sophomore won the 50 free in 22.25 seconds, .01 seconds off the state’s all-time best and good for fourth-best nationally.

She also won the 100 free in 49.01 seconds, and swam the 12th-fastest 100-yard high school split in the nation’s history with her 48.83 leadoff leg of the 400-free relay at CIF-SS Division I finals.

The boys volleyball team provided one of the top highlights for the school, ending Valencia’s 112-match league winning streak on March 21 in a 3-1 victory.

Outside of cross country, the fall was a tough season for Saugus, which failed to compete for a Foothill League title in any other sport.

The football team entered the season with high expectations, after winning a co-league title in 2011.

Sophomore starting quarterback Chris Hamilton struggled with injuries throughout the season, and the team settled for a fourth-place finish.

The story was similar for girls tennis and volleyball, which were all in quasi-transition years after losing their top seniors from the 2011-2012 season.

That theme continued during the winter season, as the girls soccer program was expected to cruise to another Foothill League title and make a run in the postseason in the league’s first season back in CIF-Southern Section Division II.

Things looked up early, as Saugus went undefeated in preleague play and climbed into the top 10 in Maxpreps.com’s state rankings.

But in Foothill League play, things began to fall apart, as the Centurions finished fourth and lost in the first round of the postseason to Westlake.

The boys and girls basketball teams similarly squeaked into the playoffs and lost in the first round.

For boys soccer, 2012 was supposed to be the season Saugus came together around a group of seniors, but injuries derailed what could have been a promising season as the Centurions missed the postseason.

As spring was ushered in, Saugus was met with another round of high expectations.

Softball, behind transfer Maddy Jelenicki and freshman Oklahoma-committ Mariah Lopez, was the unanimous preseason pick to win the Foothill League.

The team got off to a slow start in league before rebounding to finish in a second-place tie with Valencia at 6-4, but never came close to catching West Ranch for the title. The Centurions saw their season come to an end in the first round of the CIF-SS Division I postseason to Orange Lutheran.

Baseball, coming off a quarterfinals appearance the year before, missed out on the postseason this year after losing in its final game of the season to West Ranch to finish in fourth place at 12-14-1 overall.

Boys volleyball, behind a young team, ended the Vikings’ streak early in the league season, finished third and fell in the first round.

Despite the overall struggles of the year, there was plenty of individual performances worth noting.

Ortega, Yarnall and Weitzeil lead the way here, but Jelenicki was dominant in her sport, as well.

The junior earned All-CIF honors in Division I softball — one of just three Foothill League players on the list — and was the Centurions’ top threat throughout the season.

In boys swim, senior Jonathan Morsch won the Foothill League title in the 100 free and teamed with Zachary Zenteno, Alex Chan and Justin Lee to swim the 400-free relay at CIF-SS Division I finals in a district record 1 minute, 34.66 seconds. That time broke the longest standing William S. Hart Union High School District record, which Olympic Gold-medal winner Anthony Ervin helped set in 1998.

In boys track and field, senior Rodrigo Ornelas made the CIF state final in the 3,200-meter race, finishing 17th after taking third at CIF-SS Division II finals. Sabrina Janes finished seventh in the 800 meter final at state, and was fifth in CIF-SS Division II.

Along with Ortega, the three Centurions were the only Santa Clarita Valley athletes to make state finals in track and field.

The trio provided a symbolic book end for to the school’s 2012-2013 season, which began with dominance on the cross country course and ended with excellence on the track.

 

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