Cross Country: This Week in the Southern Section

With other headlines on the oval dominating the circuit (and for good reason!), we turn our attention back to the cross country season here in the Southern Section.   

With only several weeks remaining in the 2020-21 cross country 'season' -- more schools continue to come together and develop their schedule as our friends at Finished Results shared with us that more schools continue to set up meets. 

By the way -- remember to download the Finished Results free app that allows for Live Results, so that you can 'watch' several meets all at once.  

Great Oak Continues to Dominate the Southwestern League 

The fourth edition of the SWL meets, held Thursday at Temecula Valley HS, featured the schools allowing three teams to compete at once, separated into two sets. Previous meets were held as a set of three duals. This one ran as a pair of three-team races.

On the boys' side, once again, Great Oak put its depth on full display.  Led once again by Austin Montez (15:10.9), the Wolfpack's top six all broke 15:35.  This squad will not miss a beat later this year as Montez was the only senior in their lineup.  Chaparral's Jacob Bustamante welcomed the challenge of Great Oak, responding with an impressive 14:53.4 victory in the fastest time of the day. 

In the second group, Temecula Valley's Alex Kalmar (15:16) held off the Vista Murrieta pair of Noah Murasmith and Lance Denhalter with both crossing the line in 15:20.  Denhalter, a junior, has emerged from the JV ranks into one of the Bronco's top runners over this past year.  

For the girls, Brianna Weidler of Great Oak continues to make up for missing the end of the 2019 season with another victory (17:56 - race video above).  The sophomore trio of Aishling Fabian (17:59), Kali Kraus (18:17), and Ameya Teli (18:28) followed Weidler to the finish line ahead of Murrieta Valley freshman, Isabel Rosales.  The UC-Davis bound Weidler, has been on a roll and is Great Oak's only senior among its top 14.  


Redlands East Valley Boys and Yucaipa's Girls Control the Action

Hosted at Citrus Valley High, the newly configured Citrus Belt League met up for the first time.  Going into the season, the Redlands East Valley boys were favored to capture the CIF-SS Division 3 title.  That talent was put on full display with running five of the top six slots with all results merged. Matt Hornung's 14:55.9 crossed well ahead of teammates Liam Mapes (15:14.5) and freshman Emmanuel Wallace (15:39.0).  Citrus Valley junior Jake Caliva helped propel his squad to a second-place finish and was the lone hawk to break up the REV's top five.  Watch for the all-underclass crew Citrus Valley has this fall. 

Yucaipa's girls qualified for the State Meet in 2019 and look to have rebuilt from graduation losses just fine. In scoring only 17 points in the overall merged results, the Thunderbirds owned nine of the top 11 times on the day.  Sophomore Taylor Becker outlasted teammate Kaitlyn Townsend, 18:22 to 18:27.  Citrus Valley freshman Gabriella Romero was the only girl to break into Yucaipa's top six.   

Rancho Cucamonga Looks Solid over Claremont

Held on their track and conducted more as a 3200-meter time trial at Rancho Cucamonga High, junior Glenn Bell led the action up front.  Previously coming in with a 10:08 personal best from a year ago, Bell crossed with a 9:38.4 here.  Fellow Cougars, Nathan England (9:45.9) and Russel Mercado (9:58.0) also dipped under the 10-minute threshold.  The new-look Claremont crew, missing several varsity members from a year ago, will be ready to go this fall.  Led by junior Ruben Denson (10:02.8), their top four are all juniors.  

The girls race featured a trio that left the pack right away.  Ending with a photo finish, Claremont freshman, Denise Jie Yi Chen claimed the victory in 11:10.9.  With marked improvement, Rancho Cucamonga senior Allie Scimia crossed with an identical time as Chen.  Schimia's previous best for the distance was 11:53.  Meanwhile, Claremont junior Maddie Coles crossed right behind those two with an impressive 11:13.0 clocking. 

Valencia's Squads Captures the Empire League Meet 

Hosted by Crean Lutheran, Katella's Ashlynn Viramontes stole the show with her 80-plus-second victory.  On the day, her 17:53 performance would be the top time for the girls.  With results merged, Valencia's 43 points outdistanced Katella's 64.  Valencia's Emily Jeon (18:23) battled with Crean Lutheran's Kaela Brenner (18:25) to be the only other two that ran under 19 minutes. 

On the boys side, the action was much closer.  Valencia handled Crean Lutheran, 24-31, in their head-to-head matchup.  With that, when you merged the squads altogether, Valencia held on for a much slimmer, 65-70 advantage over Crean Lutheran.  Meanwhile, and competing in two separate races -- Pacifica scored 75 in the merge with Kennedy compiling 77 points.   

But it was the dual between Katella's Jonathan Aguilar and Kennedy's Justin Singer that highlighted the day with both juniors pushing one another below 14:50, with Aguilar crossing first at 14:43.  Previous to that race, the fastest time of the day had been Valencia's Aiden Larsen at 15:39.  

South Pasadena Shines the Brightest at the Rio Honda League Meet

Conducted over a two-day period and under more strict protocols, South Pasadena's Andrew Villapudua dominated the course, rolling to a 16:06, 40 seconds faster than the runner-up, Jaden Milbrodt of La Canada.  South Pasadena earned four of the top five times in the league as junior Liam De Villa finished in 17:11.  

It was much of the same for the girls, as senior Lindsay Michels took her turn.  With South Pasadena placing their varsity seven in the top 11 spots, Michels left no doubt in navigating the course in 19:09.  Being the only girl to break 20-minutes, the next fastest time was San Marino senior, Peyton Talt (20:31). 

Foothill with Sound Victories over Yorba Linda

Hosted on their high school campus, Foothill's Sophia Dudley run up front for a convincing 18:14 victory, well ahead of her teammate Kayla Kashima (19:09).  With Foothill coming up with a 21-35 victory, two-time State Meet qualifier, Siena Palicke of Yorba Linda (and UCLA bound) cruised this one with a fourth-place finish to lead her squad.    

The boys of Foothill showed no mercy on this one with a 15-50 sweep over Yorba Linda.  The young Foothill squad (four of the top five are underclassmen) was led by Nicholas Allred.  He navigated the course in 15:52, ahead of freshman teammate, Jack Horrocks (16:06).  

San Clemente's boys overcome Aliso Niguel's Foody 

Displaying tremendous improvement from his sophomore year, Aliso Niguel junior Brennan Foody rolled in with a 15:48 victory over a strong San Clemente crew.  With only one senior in the program, the Tritons took the next six spots after Foody, with junior Hayden Beauchemin (16:05) claiming top honors for his squad this week.  Sophomore Juan Chantaca (16:08) impressed once again.  In the end, San Clemente walked away with a 20-39 victory.  

Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar Split

With an automatic dual meet victory in claiming the top three spots, Laguna Beach rolled to a 20-39 win over Corona del Mar.  Conducted on Huntington Beach's Central Park, junior Melanie Falkowski impressed in breaking the 18-minute barrier on the course.  Showing tremendous improvement over this past year, Falkowski finished well ahead of teammate Coco Reed (18:25) as the Breakers looked sharp here.  They were going to be one of the top squads once again in Division 4, where they placed second at the 2019 Finals and have qualified for the State Meet the past three seasons.  

Corona del Mar's boys bounced back to snag a competitive 25-30 victory.  Not to take away anything from CDM but Laguna Beach was missing one of the top returners in the Southern Section in Mateo Bianchi.  With that, the Breakers captured the top two spots (led by Christopher Drews' 16:27), but Corona del Mar's all-underclass squad countered back by scoring in the next five spots to close out their scoring.  

Trabuco Hills' Girls Hold off San Clemente

In a competitive 26-31 dual meet, Trabuco Hills was able to overcome San Clemente's Kelsey Yamano (17:58), who continues to shine this Winter.  The Mustang duo of Melissa Pinter and Danica Brinkman, both crossing in 18:01, match Yamano up until the end.  The sophomore, Brinkman has improved by almost two minutes since the 2019 season, elevating her to one of the best in Orange County.   

JSerra and St. John Bosco Go Down to the Wire in the Trinity League

The matchup between JSerra and St. John Bosco materialized into everything it was advertised!  It's awesome when it comes down to your fifth and sixth scorers as was the case in this affair.  Those scorers played a pivotable role in finishing ahead of Bosco's fifth and securing the 27-29 victory!  JT McCoy of St. John Bosco controlled the pace from the start, motoring to a 14:59 victory.  But, JSerra's Aidan O'Brien and Kennie Arriola claimed the next two spots.  (Arriola is fresh off his huge breakout of 4:13.55 indoor 1600 meters in Chicago the previous weekend!)   

Mater Dei's boys held off Servite for a 25-31 victory.  Overcoming Servite junior Jared Steins (15:08), who has emerged as one of Orange County's best, Mater Dei crossed in the next three spots.  Sophomore Dominic Calabrese, Thomas Campbell, and Danny Wacker all crossed together at 15:45.   

Santa Margarita's boys, with three of their top four being freshmen, claimed a 25-31 victory over Orange Lutheran.  Class of 2024, Zachary Gibson continues to shine with a 15:52 victory. 

In the girls competition, JSerra's ladies took the weekend off as they had controlled the action in previous meets.  The much improved Mater Dei girls claimed four of the top six overall times on the day.  Mater Dei freshman Kennedy Duralde paced her girls as all four finished in a 19-second bubble to easily outdistance Rosary.  Duralde comes into Mater Dei with considerable success at the club level, focusing as a 400/800 athlete.  

On the day, Santa Margarita's Kendall Saeger ran the fastest time of the day in rolling to a 17:46!  The State Meet qualifier in 2019 left no doubt as we anticipate a great track season for her in the upcoming months.  Orange Lutheran's Nicole Meyer used Saeger's vapor to record an 18:09 to finish runner-up on the day.  Meyer was vital in leading her squad to the 2019 CIF-SS Division 4 title. 

Ayala's Squads Control the Palomares League...again

In the much anticipated dual meet between Ayala and defending league champion, Claremont -- Ayala's boys were up for the challenge.  In a dominating 15-42 decision, Austin Lemus and Mason Ma once again finished 1-2 in crossing the line together (15:20).  As we mentioned last week, Ma transferred from Chino Hills this season.  With Ayala claiming the top five spots for the sweep over the all-underclass Claremont crew, sophomore Nathan Tsai (15:30) also shined for the Bulldogs.  

The girls matchup was much closer as expected. Two freshmen controlled the action in front, but it was Claremont's Denise Jie Yi Chen that moved away for the 17:23 victory!  Ayala freshman Emily Schott and senior Shaina Berk claimed the next spots crossing together just under 17:38.  Ayala's impressive depth pushed Claremont's final score up to secure the 25-32 victory. 

Palos Verdes' Squads Hold On for the Sweep

While the boys Palos Verdes comfortably raced to a 21-34 victory, their girls needed all five scorers to overcome Peninsula's talent in front. 

Peninsula's Ewan Macfarlane is one of the top returners in the section and has been proving why this Winter.  With the Palos Verdes course being one of the toughest and most grueling courses in California, Macfarlane did not allow anybody to come close in his 16:18 victory.  PV's Owen Ladinig led for the Sea Kings (16:45) but the rest of the group was well back with Jon Ward claiming third in 17:38.

Moving to the girls, the Peninsula sophomore duo of Roya Khaleeli (21:07) and Madison Woodward (21:29) opened the scoring up in claiming the top two spots.   

These two have developed as well as anybody we have seen out there!  Case in point: Khaleeli ran over two minutes faster than she did as a freshman on the course in 2019 while Woodward has obviously joined in that progression! 

Palos Verdes claimed five of the next six spots to secure the narrow 27-28 victory!  Junior Greta Norris led the charge for Palos Verdes.     

Loyola Continues to Roll on the Track

Conducting their meets over 3,200 meters on the track, Loyola continues to roll.  Junior Dylan Bissell held off teammate, senior Arjun Vadgama, with a hand-timed 9:19 to 9:20 victory!   As we have previously mentioned, Loyola's Class of 2022 is one of the best in the Southern Section as juniors Rich Moreno (9:47) and Nate Mars (9:49) also impressed.  Loyola had eight boys run under 10:10, with six of them returning in the fall for cross country.  

Canyon Defends Home Turf with Victories over Brea

With three talented freshmen entering onto their varsity group, the girls of Anaheim Hills Canyon High will continue to be one of the top squads in the Southern Section.  Case in point in that freshman Makena Oliva seizing the lead from the start and coming home with an 18:05 victory over teammate Emma Hadley (18:21).  Sitting out 2019 State Meet qualifier for the 3,200 and daughter of both head coaches, Isabella Frisone cheered on her teammates on this one.  Canyon freshman Heather Greenbaum made her debut to place third in 18:37 to help the Comanches to a 19-39 win.    

Continuing to display considerable improvement and confidence, Canyon's Andrew Lugo left no doubt with a solid 15:51 victory.  Like many on-campus courses we have witnessed, most have been forced into integrating sharp turns all throughout which is the case here at Canyon.  Meanwhile, junior Ethan Florez held off a late rush by freshman teammate, Jaden Goetz, to secure the 21-36 victory. 

Compliments to the administration as athletes were supported by drummers of the marching band along with the school's cheerleaders.  All parents and spectators were placed off-campus but with a great view of most of the race as the school has been finally allowed to use the new, all-weather facility at Canyon.   

El Toro Charges Past Mission Viejo

The Chargers secured a dominant victory over the Diablos, 15-48.   In claiming the first five spots, Santiago Sanchez led El Toro once again, crossing in 15:15 with the rest of his scoring five within five seconds of him.  Four of El Toro's top five are seniors which has become a rarity under this past year of the pandemic. 

It was a nice training run of sorts for El Toro's girls as they claimed the top seven spots for the 15-50 romp.  As the chase group all packed up to cross together in 19:29, it was Paulette Dominguez that continued to shine with an 18:40 performance.  Placing tenth in 2019, she has progressed to become one of the elites in the South Coast League.   

Serrano Still Owns the High Desert with Sweep over Apple Valley

State Meet qualifiers in six of the last seven seasons, the Diamondbacks of Serrano swept Apple Valley, 15-50 on the girls' side.  Junior Tiani Goeson continues her successful Winter with a 65-second victory (19:25) over a tough, hilly course.   Carly Burns and younger freshman sister, Siena Burns claimed the second and third spots in the scoring. 
On the boys' side, it much of the same as Serrano ran away with the 17-46 victory.  Junior Anthony Hernandez (16:44) dominated with a 71-second victory over teammate, Richard Vasquez.  

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Mark Gardner is a regular contributor to MileSplitCA and serves as the Southern Section editor.

Cover photo by Scott Padgett/TimeStoodStill Photography.