LAGUNA HILLS -- Carly Corsinita had a plane to catch. Caleb Niednagel had momentary thoughts about a record. Jackson Adelman was overjoyed to be able to run with a teammate. Devyn Candaele was getting in a tempo.
A sampling of the standout runners at the 36th Laguna Hills Invitational on Saturday, who braved searing temperatures to cross first in their respective races over the undulating 3-mile Kevin Dempsey layout. It is a course that jets across a football field, hits trails and neighborhoods, dusty hills and tree-lined paths to end on the track only yards from where it all began three miles before.
The course design allows for races to go off every 15 minutes, and then every five minutes and again every 15 minutes, leaving more than one division on the course at once. The minimal crossover can create some confusion and, briefly, there was an initial report of an early morning record. Keeping track of three divisions in each of four grade classes multiplied by gender is an impressive undertaking.
There would be no records on this day.
AccuWeather reported the daily high in Laguna Hills as 94, but anyone returning to their car in the parking lot in the early afternoon and seeing triple figures on the console skeptically views that 'official' temperature as conservative at best.
For 24 races, from 7:45 a.m., where morning fog still lingered around the stadium, until the Senior Boys Division 1 finale around noon, wave after wave after wave of runners took on the course.
Niednagel, the senior from Carlsbad La Costa Canyon, won the Senior Boys Division 2 race in 15:41.3, the fastest of the day. On his rapid heels throughout was teammate Andy Pueschel, whose runner-up time in that race of 15:46.3 was the second fastest of the day (interview above).
Those were the only two sub-16s on the course this day, with Capistrano Valley junior Thomas Mordy coming the next closest, running 16:00.6 to win his class D2 race.
As a team, La Costa Canyon crossed four of the first nine and five of the top 13 in the Senior Boys race.
Carly Corsinita Interview:
Corsinita, a senior at Capistrano Valley, sprinted away early and cruised across in 18:59.4 to win the Senior Girls Division 2 race. This was a preparation for next week's Woodbridge Cross Country Classic where she said she hopes for a 30-second PR. Later Saturday she was scheduled to fly to Oakland for an official recruiting visit to Cal.
Hers was one of the last races of the day, nearing the peak of the heat. Corsinita's time was not the fastest among the 12 girls races but it was one of only five under 19 minutes.
Fastest was a wide-smiling freshman blur by the name of Liesel Blau of St. Margaret's, who blitzed an early-morning trail when temperatures were still relatively cool in 18:22.0. Jadyn Zdanavage of Irvine Portola was next in 18:37.9 in what would be the two fastest times of the day among the 12 girls races.
Check out Liesel Blau in the Freshman Girls Division 3 race:
Richards' teammate, Lauren Schuerger, won the Sophomore Girls D1 race in 19:22.6, holding a steady lead throughout with Vista Murrieta's Candaele running controlled a good distance behind in second. Candaele, sixth at the CIF-State Meet in the Division I race last November and one of CA's elites in the 2022 class, has had a steady growth spurt that forced her to back off during track and shut down much of the summer. Saturday's effort was part of her working her way back, her father and Vista Murrieta coach Coley Candaele said. Full strength by mid-fall, when it matters most, is the target, he said.
St. Margaret's Jackson Adelman won the Junior Boys Division 3 race in 16:05.8. Adelman, second at the State Meet in Division V as a sophomore, ran with classmate Calvin Capella for most of the race before pulling away to win. Capella crossed second in 16:19.3.
Jackson Adelman Interview (apologies for the wonky autofocus):