Sun Shined Bright On Orange County Cross Country Meets

Portola's Jadyn Zdanavage was a runaway winner at Saturday's Pacific Coast League dual series at Beckman High. (Photo by Raymond Tran)

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IRVINE -- Under a typical weekend in Orange County, where optimal conditions including sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60's all day, a number of top programs conducted successful cross country meets for their athletes. 

In a day that most in the nation would not recognize in the middle of winter, a number of proactive coaches and support staff displayed how competition can be successfully and safely conducted.  

Case in point as we witnessed the Beckman High cross country family and the opportunities they provided yesterday in hosting the Pacific Coast League Meet on the school's campus. 

Compliments to the coaches, but more importantly to the parents and the administration for supporting this meet. With athletes and coaches required to check-in at the only entrance into the main track facility (and pre-approved), all had their temperature taken beforehand.  Meanwhile, any parents or spectators adhered to the expectations of staying in their vehicles of maintaining a safe distance on the adjacent street that overlooked the start and finish lines. 

All coaches and athletes wore their masks unless they were competing. The parent support staff did a great job overseeing the drop-off and parking procedures and also keeping a course safe for the athletes. 

In allowing athletes to compete at three different levels per dual meet, they conducted 18 races altogether.  Starting early at 7 a.m., that provided ample time for programs to safely enter and exit the facility with as little traffic as possible.    

Beckman's boys dominated University (18-41) as did their girls with a 21-40 score. Josh Schuld and Zeid Hussain continued to prove why Beckman is one of the top boys' teams in the county with their 14:19 and 14:35 efforts.  Beckman's Joy Weber ran away from the competition over the last mile in rolling to a 17:46 on the flat, on-campus course.

Northwood's girls came back with a 25-32 victory, despite placing some of their top girls at other levels.  Audrey Landis ran solo from the gun, crossing in an 18:55 effort, almost a minute faster than anybody else.  Teammate, Avigail Friedel matched that same effort in the JV race with a wire-to-wire 18:53 victory.  Northwood's boys ran to a victory against Irvine, led by Caden Hornyak's 15:42 victory.

Portola's Jadyn Zdanavage blistered the first mile, crossing under 5:20 and running away with a solo 17:31 performance.  The sophomore placed 12th at the 2019 California State Meet for Division III and proves why she continues to be one of the best in Orange County for 2021.  With that though, Woodbridge prevailed as a team with a 24-31 victory.  Woodbridge's boys achieved the same feat but by a wider margin of 18-43.  Ryan Welton led the way as his 15:34 effort.  


Meanwhile, in other parts of Orange County, here some quick takes:

- In dual meet action between two of Orange County's best, Capistrano Valley held off Trabuco Hills, 27-30!  With both projected to be State Meet candidates any other year, the Mustangs' Landen Lee unleashed with a wire-to-wire win (14:54.7) by over 30 seconds!  Lee is one of the top returners in the Southern Section.  The Cougars placed the next three, led by Thomas Mordy.  Trabuco Hills placed their seventh in front of Capo's fifth scorer to make it a much closer match.  

- Meanwhile, the ladies of Trabuco Hills traveled down to Dana Hills.  One of the top freshmen from the 2019 postseason in California, Dana Hills' Allura Markow maintained some serious social distancing with her 17:33.3, 63-second romp over the on-campus course.  Meanwhile, Trabuco Hills packed up well as their top four all crossed within nine seconds of one another for the convincing 21-35 victory.  Annalise Munoz, one of the top returners in Division 1, paced her Trabuco Hills' squad with her 18:36.3 performance.  

- Glancing back to last Thursday, the Southwestern League held its league meet, hosting all six schools at Temecula High School.  With the entire meet conducted over six races, and each coach deciphering between varsity, junior varsity, and frosh/soph levels, the meet was held over a 2.6-mile on-campus course.  

- Competitively, there were no surprises as Great Oak dominated on both sides in the merged results with Vista Murrieta placing second.  An improved Murrieta Valley boys' team placed third in the merge with Temecula Valley placing third on the girls' side.  

-Individually, Great Oak's girls claimed the four fastest times of the day, led by Brianna Weidler's 15:36.5 performance.  Murrieta Valley freshman Isabel Rosales was the only girl to break into's Great Oak's top six, with her fifth-place 15:55.9 debut effort.  

For the boys, Great Oak ran away with seven of the top nine times (10 of the top 13) on the day.  As the group boasted seven underclassmen in their top nine in a controlled team effort, Chaparral's Jacob Bustamante ran the fastest time (13:00.1) of the day over Vista Murrieta's Noah Murasmith's 13:16.9.  Bustamonte is projected as a top-10 candidate in Division 1 this year, while Murasmith returns a strong group that qualified for the State Meet in 2019.  Great Oak's Austin Montez paved the way for Great Oak (13:17.5) as their top seven all finished within an eight-second bubble. 

- As evidenced by what we witnessed from the administration, parents, and coaches this past week -- we can provide an athletic outlet for our kids during this pandemic.  After this weekend, we stand positive that there are programs all throughout the state that can follow the expected protocols and respect all safety measures to provide our high schoolers at least some type of cross country and track and field seasons over these next several months.   

- We want to thank for partners at Finished Results for providing live, accurate, and precise results, as well as the programs also supporting the timing company!  

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Mark Gardner is a teacher and longtime former coach who is a regular contributor as the Southern Section editor for MileSplitCA.