Top teams, runners eye fast times at Woodbridge Classic


Newbury Park's Nico Young won the boys sweepstakes race in 2018 and went on to win the State Division II title and place fourth at Nike Cross Nationals. (Credit: Frank Bellino)

In what will be an epic Clash of the Titans, No. 2 nationally-ranked Great Oak will battle the men from Newbury Park, who are ranked third on the most recent team rankings!  This may be the only time the two face off before seeing one another in December at Nike Cross Nationals.   While Great Oak placed second last year at NXN, a young Newbury Park squad flew back home with a sixth-place finish.   Both were the Divisions 1 and 2 CIF-State champions, respectively, and despite their youth, were the two best squads in California in 2018.   

Five of the top six squads in the 2018 Woodbridge Sweepstakes Race advanced on to the Nike Cross Nationals, with three of them finishing among the top eight teams!  

In regard to the Woodbridge Classic, Great Oak looks to claim the team title for the third year in a row.  In 2018, the Wolfpack crossed with a meet record team time of 72:38, which equates to an eye-popping 14:32 average time for their five scorers!  Meanwhile, their 'B' team captured the Rated Race as well, averaging under 15 minutes per boy there.  Why are they such heavy favorites?  They return seven of their top nine from this event a year ago with all seven eclipsing the 15-minute barrier!    

Behind the two juggernauts, the race will also feature seven of the top 10 squads in the Southern Section, including Redlands East Valley, El Toro, Burbank, Mira Costa and West Torrance

Meanwhile, Great Oak and Newbury Park will have their hands full from two of the best making the trip west from Texas.  Ranked No. 15 on the Milesplit national rankings, El Paso Eastwood leads the way.  They were NXN qualifier in 2018 and return most of their squad.  Meanwhile, Texas' Southlake Carroll has qualified for NXN the past three seasons and is currently No. 17 on the national team rankings.  


Defending Woodbridge Classic and Division 2 State Champion, Nico Young, overshadows the field of who's who on the statewide scene.   This is the same stage where he catapulted himself to a 14:01.1 victory and into a national favorite in 2018.   Young admitted that he is looking to break the 14-minute barrier and set a new course and meet record.  The next fastest returner is Great Oak's Gabriel Abbes (14:17.5) who comes into 2019 determined to make up for a 2018 season that saw him miss the postseason with an injury.   

Southlake Carrol's Nate Lannen returns his 14:31.0 performance from a year ago as well.  Also from Texas, Elias Perez (El Paso Eastwood) crossed in 14:37 at this invite in 2018.  Dillon Blake (14:38.4) represents Mundelein out of Illinois.  Anthony Monte of Austin Vandergrift, in Texas makes the trip after his 26th-place finish at NXN last December.  Also watch for junior Tristan Amell of Santa Monica (formerly of Christian Brothers Academy in New Jersey), as he was one of the top sophomores a year ago at NXN as a member of one of the best programs in the nation.    

Great Oak also features the trio of Mateo Joseph, Cole Sawires-Yager and Chris Verdugo (14:37.5 in 2018) while Newbury Park's Jace Aschbrenner is also projected for a top-10 finish (he did not compete at Woodbridge last year).  Also representing Newbury Park, freshman Lex Young will have another opportunity to prove why he's one of the national gems in the Class of 2023 after placing third on the three-mile course at the Cool Breeze Invite in 14:42.   

Aliso Niguel's Ben McKenna crossed under 14:38 a year ago while Capistrano Valley's Sean Robertson comes in off a strong 14:38 finish at the Rosemead Invite two weeks ago.  Continuing on, Mira Costa's Billy Atkinson is making up for a lost 2018 season as he won the Cool Breeze Invite two weeks ago (14:39) while Redlands East Valley's Matthew Casillas dipped under 14:40 here a year ago. 

Sleepers to watch for are Michael Mireles (Thousand Oaks) and Jeremiah Castellano (Upland).  The latter rolled to an impressive 9:25 at the two-mile Fastback Shootout three weeks ago while Mireles competed up front with Newbury Park's Young/Aschbrenner duo at their league meet last week.   Also in the mix will be Long Beach Poly's Ronan McMahon-Staggs.   

It takes a 14:44 just to get onto the Top 100 list for the Silverlakes Sports Complex course and 14:29 on the All-Time Invite list!     

Boys Meet/Course Records

MRBlake HaneyStockdale (CS)13:55.02013Estancia (course)
CRLuis GrijalvaArmijo (SJ)13:58.02016SilverLakes

All-Time Boys Under 14 minutes

1Blake HaneyStockdale (CS)13:55.02013Estancia
2Estevan De La RosaArcadia (SS)13:56.02013Estancia
3Luis GrijalvaArmijo (SJ)13:58.02016SilverLakes
4Justin HazellEl Camino Real Charter (LA)13:59.52017SilverLakes
5Cooper TeareSt. Joseph (NC)13:59.62016SilverLakes

More Woodbridge Cross Country Classic Records