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Saugus boys track and field edges Canyon to create 3-way tie atop standings

Centurion girls top Cowboys

Posted: April 28, 2016 10:17 p.m.
Updated: April 28, 2016 10:17 p.m.
Saugus' Houston Heineman clears the final hurdle in the boys varsity 110 meter hurdles during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. Saugus' Houston Heineman clears the final hurdle in the boys varsity 110 meter hurdles during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Saugus' Houston Heineman clears the final hurdle in the boys varsity 110 meter hurdles during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Saugus’ Louis Eusebi, center left, and Canyon’s Steven Arrington, center right, lean across the finish in the 100-meter dash at Canyon Thursday. Eusebi edged Arrington. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. Saugus’ Louis Eusebi, center left, and Canyon’s Steven Arrington, center right, lean across the finish in the 100-meter dash at Canyon Thursday. Eusebi edged Arrington. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Saugus’ Louis Eusebi, center left, and Canyon’s Steven Arrington, center right, lean across the finish in the 100-meter dash at Canyon Thursday. Eusebi edged Arrington. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Saugus' Ryan Tate, right, pushes off the starting line at the start of the boys varsity 1600 meter run during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. Saugus' Ryan Tate, right, pushes off the starting line at the start of the boys varsity 1600 meter run during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Saugus' Ryan Tate, right, pushes off the starting line at the start of the boys varsity 1600 meter run during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Canyon's Seanna Nalbandyan races down the finish of the girls varsity 1600 meter relay ahead of Saugus' Mariah Castillo, as Nalbandyan's teammates cheer her on to the finish during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze. Canyon's Seanna Nalbandyan races down the finish of the girls varsity 1600 meter relay ahead of Saugus' Mariah Castillo, as Nalbandyan's teammates cheer her on to the finish during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
Canyon's Seanna Nalbandyan races down the finish of the girls varsity 1600 meter relay ahead of Saugus' Mariah Castillo, as Nalbandyan's teammates cheer her on to the finish during a dual meet at Canyon on Thursday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze.
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If anyone understands the tradition of success produced by the Canyon boys track and field program, it is Juan Enciso.

After running for the Cowboys last season, Enciso transferred to Saugus for his sophomore year and was not only a significant factor Thursday in the Centurions defeating host Canyon for the first time since 2009, but also in creating a three-way tie for the Foothill League championship.

Enciso led a Saugus sweep in the 3200 meters and placed second behind teammate Ryan Tate in the 800 to contribute to a 72-64 victory, snapping Canyon’s unbeaten run in league dual meets at 19. The Cowboys, who tied Golden Valley in the regular-season finale in 2013, suffered their first league setback since a 68-67 loss April 26, 2012, against the Grizzlies.

Saugus’ win, in addition to Valencia’s 85-51 victory over Golden Valley, resulted in the Centurions, Cowboys and Vikings all sharing the title. Canyon last shared the championship in 2012 with Golden Valley and Hart, before winning the past three outright.

Canyon (6-1 overall, 4-1 in Foothill League) had already secured at least a share of its seventh consecutive Foothill championship and 14th since joining the league in 1993 with a 79-57 victory April 21 at West Ranch, combined with Valencia’s 69-65 win over Saugus.

“I really do miss Canyon because a lot of my friends are still there, but I’m at Saugus now and I came here to win and that’s all that matters,” Enciso said. “I would do anything to help Saugus win and I have to thank all my coaches because if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have won league.”

Canyon cut the deficit to 53-51 after Connor Holcomb (22.40) and Steven Arrington (22.57) took the top two spots in the 200.

The Centurions (4-2, 4-1) responded with Enciso winning the 3200 in 10:43.13, followed by Jacob Crosson (10:43.85) and Tate (10:43.86), stretching their advantage to 11 points with three events remaining. Tate also led a Saugus sweep of the 1600 in 4:51.04 and won the 800 in 2:00.48, just ahead of Enciso (2:00.81).

“Coming out here and beating the seven-time league champions is a very honorable thing, especially after losing to Valencia,” Tate said. “Considering we haven’t won league since 2009, I’m so thrilled to be a part of this team. I’m at a loss for words.”

After Michael Brooks (39-7) and Cliff Alvarez (38-5 ½) took first and third in the triple jump, followed by second- and third-place finishes in the long jump from Noah Turner (20-1) and Louis Eusebi (19-6 ½), Saugus had wrapped up the win before the 4x400 relay was contested. Turner also contributed a victory by clearing 6-4 in the high jump.

Eusebi created a big momentum shift for the Centurions by winning the 100, edging Arrington by an 11.46 to 11.47 margin, then he placed third in the 200 in 22.76.

“That was a big eye opener for us. That was a giant switch right there,” Holcomb said. “We had a little trouble in the pole vault, and we didn’t expect that in the 100, but we knew it was going to be intense. It definitely made things more exciting.”

Holcomb played a significant role for the Cowboys, leading a sweep in the 400 in 50.41, along with running on the victorious 4x100 relay (43.33) and anchoring the 4x400 to a win in 3:29.97.

Even Canyon victories by John Elam in the shot put (52 feet) and discus throw (152-11), as well as Brandon Wilson winning the long jump (21-3 ¾) and taking second in the triple jump (31-6), weren’t enough to deny Saugus just its third victory over the Cowboys in the past 28 years.

“We have just five seniors on the team and there are only two of them that really score, so the fact that they pulled it off for a seventh straight year is beyond what I expected at the beginning of the season,” said Canyon head coach Paul Broneer. “Saugus did a great job. (Eusebi) was much faster than I expected.”

Saugus prevailed 73-63 in the girls competition to secure its fourth win in a row over Canyon.

Despite Seanna Nalbandyan contributing to four victories, it wasn’t enough for the Cowboys (3-4, 1-4) to overcome a 27-point deficit in the distance events.

Nalbandyan won the 400 (59.56), 100 hurdles (16.37), 300 hurdles (47.81) and anchored the 4x400 relay to victory in 4:02.44 for Canyon, which received victories in the shot put (35-9) and discus (109-8) from Gabby Sanchez.

“I’ll do whatever it takes for us to score points and try to help the team win,” Nalbandyan said. “In the relay, I wanted to give it everything I had and leave it all out on the track. I couldn’t say no to my coach and my teammates.”

Ashley Heys doubled in the 1600 (5:15.16) and 3200 (11:29.96), with Emma Bahr taking the 800 (2:22.39) for Saugus (2-4, 2-3), which received a win in the triple jump (33-6) and second-place finish in the long jump (15-2) from Brooke Thompson.

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