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Saugus doesn’t miss a step

Posted: October 15, 2009 10:10 p.m.
Updated: October 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Even without a couple of its top runners, the Saugus girls cross country team maintained its stranglehold on the Foothill League at Thursday’s second league meet.

The boys’ race, however, is starting to heat up.

Saugus edged Canyon 27-28 to win the boys meet at Castaic Lake, while the Centurion girls finished first through fifth to dominate the girls race.

Saugus went 5-0 against the rest of the league in the dual-meet scoring system, while the Canyon boys edged Golden Valley 26-29 to go 4-1 and finished second.

Golden Valley was third at 3-2, while Valencia was fourth at 2-3. Hart went 1-4 to finish fifth, and the West Ranch boys were sixth at 0-5.

For the girls, Canyon edged West Ranch 27-29 to finish second, while the Wildcats were third and Hart was fourth. Valencia was fifth and Golden Valley was sixth.

Golden Valley’s Seth Totten ran the three-mile course in 15:46 to win the boys race for the second straight league meet.

He was 13 seconds ahead of Canyon’s Tommy McGuan, who crossed the finish line at 15:59.

But the Cowboys’ depth helped them edge Golden Valley for second place.

“It feels awesome,” McGuan said. “Last year was the first time in a long time that Canyon varsity didn’t make it to CIF. We’re in a good position now.”

Golden Valley co-head coaches Rob and Chris Evans both took blame for a mistake in strategy. The course at Castaic Lake is largely downhill for the first mile but then gradually climbs up hills the rest of the way.

“We made a tactical mistake,” Chris Evans said. “We went out too fast on a course that’s really tough and fast for the first mile. We didn’t tell them to stay back and they paid for it.”

Saugus’ top finisher was Robert Pion, who ran the race in 16 minutes, 12 seconds, which was the fourth-best overall time.

Logan Smith, Alec Nelson and A.J. Hebert also finished in the top 15.

The Centurions have gone 5-0 at the first two league meets, making them 10-0 overall. Canyon and Golden Valley have flip-flopped between second and third place at the league meets, meaning both are 7-3.

Saugus would have to finish third behind Canyon and Golden Valley to lose the league title at the championship meet Nov. 5 at Central Park.

“We basically won with four guys,” said Saugus head coach Rene Paragas. “If we have five guys on, we’ll be hard to beat at league. You’ve got to win when you’re not 100 percent.”

The meet was laced with injuries and illnesses. A lot of the boys runners were battling the flu bug, and several of the top girls were held out for different reasons.

That list included West Ranch’s Jennifer Owen, who won the first league meet but is sick with the flu, and Saugus’ Kaylin Mahoney, the defending CIF State Division II individual champion.

Mahoney could have raced, but Paragas said he gave her the day off because of Saugus’ rigorous training regimen that’s more focused on state and national success.

That didn’t stop Saugus’ Stephanie Bulder from winning the girls meet with a time of 18:44, one second behind teammate Karis Frankian.

“We were going up the hill and Karis was trying to drop back a little bit,” Bulder said. “It’s good we were with each other. We were doing the team thing.”

Saugus’ Nicole Penick was third at 18:57, while Danielle Hernando was fourth at 19:01, just milliseconds ahead of teammate Merissa Kado.

West Ranch’s Ashley Welker was sixth at 19:07, and Hart’s Grace Zamudio was seventh, followed by Valencia’s Sarah Adams and Canyon’s Alyssa Selve.

Canyon’s Hayley Parkinson didn’t run because of a swollen bone in her leg, which will be re-checked next week.

“I thought the girls did fantastic considering we didn’t have Hayley,” said Canyon head coach Paul Broneer.

Valencia was without two of its top six girls runners, but co-head coach Jeff Gilkey didn’t want to make excuses.

“We can say, “What if?” all we want, but so can everybody else,” he said. “It just shows how tough the league is.”

Hart head coach Larry David was pleased with the progress of his girls, who finished last at the first league meet.

“We knew coming into the season they’d be much more competitive,” he said. “We ran strong and with confidence. We’re trying to get them to believe and they’re starting to.”

For West Ranch, freshman Josh Sherfey moved up from junior varsity to finish 31st overall with a team-best time of 17:44.

NOTES: Saugus’ Amber Murakami, a scorer on the last three state-title teams, is still recovering from an injury and won the junior varsity race in 21:04, which was 30 seconds faster than the second-place time … Falco DiGiallonardo was Valencia’s top boys finisher at 16:11, while Sam Peckham was Hart’s top finisher at 16:17 … Chelsey Totten was Golden Valley’s top girls finisher with a time of 20:07.



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