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The Signal's Co-Female Athlete of the Year: Saugus' Samantha Ortega

Posted: July 7, 2013 8:24 p.m.
Updated: July 7, 2013 8:24 p.m.
Saugus’ Samantha Ortega, left and Abbey Weitzeil, both had sensational sophomore seasons. Saugus’ Samantha Ortega, left and Abbey Weitzeil, both had sensational sophomore seasons.
Saugus’ Samantha Ortega, left and Abbey Weitzeil, both had sensational sophomore seasons.

After completing her sophomore season, Saugus’ Samantha Ortega is being compared to some of the great runners who came before her at the school.

By the time Ortega is done at Saugus, she may very well leave all those names in her dust.

But Ortega isn’t out to break school records. She wants to win state championships. Yes, championships, with an ‘s.’ Her ambition seems to be limitless, and that’s part of the reason she’s already set a few records and appears to be on her way to many more.

This season, Ortega led Saugus to a seventh straight state title in cross country by finishing second in the CIF Division II State final with an all-time school-best time of 17 minutes, 33 seconds.

That was a faster time than Saugus graduates Kaylin Mahoney and Shannon Murakami ran to win individual state titles on the same course.

Others choose to compare Ortega to former Saugus Centurion greats Stephanie Bulder and Karis Frankian.

Either way, Ortega’s results are speaking for themselves.

Five months after the cross country state finals, Ortega was again on pace to set an all-time school mark in the 3,200-meter state track and field final, but a lost shoe and a miscue with 400 meters to go sent her back to an 11th place finish in 10:39.96.

If it weren’t for the miscue, she would have finished second behind only Simi Valley’s Sarah Baxter, who is arguably the best high school distance runner in the nation.

Regardless, Ortega’s season was excellent enough to make her The Signal’s Co-Female Athlete of the Year.
Her coach and teammates can best tell the story of the season and what the future may have in store for her.


Rene Paragas
Saugus girls cross country coach and track and field assistant coach

We had really a coming-of-age talk after the state meet just about what it takes and the kind of focus that’s needed to compete at this level — the kind of commitment. We really basically re-focused and re-dedicated ourselves to not only being the best on this team but being the best in the state, in the nation. She was 11th in state. She had a big hiccup at the state meet and we want to go from being here to being the best.

She’s shooting for the highest level possible. She wants to be a state champion. Sarah Baxter is in her division. Sarah Baxter is a two-time national champion, never lost a race in high school. But when we’re talking about that. We want to be a state champion, that’s what we want.

I’m comparing her to Shannon Murakami, Kaylin Mahoney and even Stephanie Bulder, as in she doesn’t have as much talent, but she’s making up for it (mentally).

It’s very similar to cooking. The art and science of running and the art and science of cooking is kind of similar in that, yeah, we all kind of cook the same way, but the food doesn’t turn out the same way. And a lot of it is secret. A lot of it is an art because not every athlete is built the same physically and built the same mentally.

Abigail Frankian
Saugus junior cross country and track and field runner

Right away during track, we knew she was going to be a star some day, and probably soon because she was already improving a lot more than other girls.

Her mental aspect is probably different than some of the other girls.

That does not happen very often. That was crazy to see that, but just over the summer and throughout cross country season, we could see it happening.

Sam really took after Karis (Frankian) in that way just finding good things about everything that’s going to happen.

She’s really bubbly and outgoing and always has to help other girls when she can.

Her caring nature and positive outlook, that really helps her in running.

Katie Huntington
Saugus senior cross country and track and field runner

We were at a dinner and we were all like, “Sam how do you run so well?”

Her response was that she day dreams. She pretty much told us, “Usually when I’m running, I’m thinking about what math homework I’m going to have or what I’m going to have for dinner and I think that’s kind of the secret. She just forgets about all the pain and everything else.

She makes it sound so easy. We’ll be doing workouts and she’ll be like, “I can do it again.’ It’s just amazing. She kind of reminds me of Karis Frankian a little bit. She runs with her heart. She knows that the way she trains, that’s how she’s going to do it when she races.

Sam will not let you die. She’ll make sure that you hang on, but she says it in the nicest way. And at least for me, she always puts a smile on my face.

I think she learned a lot through her first full cross country season and how good she can be. And I think it’s just unbelievable. Running is her life. She breathes it more. A lot of us find other things to do, but running is everything to her.

Even when I was captain my senior year, this past year, Sam would help us out and send messages to the team to get out reminders and everything. She stepped up as a leader and I think she’s going to step up even more. I think she’s going to be a great leader.

I feel like she can be up on top. She already is up on top, so I feel like when she goes into her junior and senior year, she’ll get a little more competition because there are some good girls coming along, but i think she’ll still shock a lot of people.


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