Who Rocked Day 2 At Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational?

Peninsula junior Aishling Callanan leads the pack at the 1-mile mark of the girls Division 1 Individual Sweepstakes race on Saturday morning at the Mt. SAC XC Invitational. (Daniel Hernandez photo)


WALNUT - While no one quite matched the jaw-dropping 14:24 performance by Francis Parker senior Kenan Pala on the last of 41 races on Friday's Day 1 at the 73rd Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational, Saturday's Day 2 had plenty of headliners and awesome performances. 

Unlike the dry and warm conditions of Friday afternoon, Saturday's racing was under cloud cover and intermittent drizzle. The cool conditions of the morning over the hilly 2.93-mile course appeared to be to the liking of Mira Costa (SS) senior Dalia Frias, who ran away from a strong field to win the Division 1-2 Team Sweepstakes race in 16:42, the fastest girl of the 80-plus races over the two days. 

The Duke-bound Frias, who was a record-setter at Woodbridge earlier this season, was a 40-second winner over Great Oak junior Kelli Gaffney, whose 17:22 was the No. 3 time of the weekend. Frias' teammate, Ella Parsley was third in 17:26 with Claremont sophomore Denise Chen next in 17:36. Chen had the fastest time at the meet among sophomore girls, ranking sixth in the merge. 

Frias left no doubt who was in control of the race as she flew through the one-mile in 5:07 and at one point, was on track to join an elite club of those that have eclipsed 16:30 on the iconic course.  

In the girl's Division 1-2 Individual Sweepstakes, Peninsula (SS) junior Aishling Callanan added another highlight to her rapidly growing resume, running the weekend's No. 2 time of 17:15. Callanan, who recently broke a long-standing record on the grueling 3-mile course at Palos Verdes, won here by 30 seconds over Poway (SD) sophomore Tessa Buswell (17:45).

In the teams scoring for that Girls Individual Sweeps, Del Norte held off fellow-Palomar League foe Poway by a score of 94-109.  Del Norte was led by freshman Emily Russo (18:04) while overcoming an 'off' race from Hannah Riggins at 18:35.  Also featuring Mt. Carmel, the league is the toughest in the San Diego Section while also in the league, Rancho Bernardo's Jacey Farmer crossed in 17:56.  Russo had the fastest time among freshmen at the meet, ranking 26th in the merge. 

The Yale-bound Pala led the way for the elite sub-15 min club as two others dipped under that mark on Saturday: Davis (SJ) senior Zach Ayers and Claremont (SS) senior Chris Coles both closed 14:56.  Behind Pala on Friday, Big Bear's Max Sannes (14:48) and Isaiah Givens of Pasadena (14:54) also highlighted that headlining group.  

Coles won the boys Division 1-2 Team Sweepstakes race with Loyola senior Richard Moreno second in 15:11. Crescenta Valley (SS) junior Parker Simmons was next in 15:14 leading a cluster of seven boys all within five seconds of each other. 

Ayers won the Division 1-2 Individual Sweepstakes race ahead of a trio of boys all clocked at 15:13: Glendora (SS) senior John Sesteaga, Grossmont (SD) junior Russell Blakely, and Valencia Valencia (SS) senior Joseph Pohlot.  Sesteaga and Pohlot's performances were by far, their best of the 2021 season.  

Coles and Ayers, in that order, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the merge.

The next-fastest boy of the weekend was Emmanuel Leblond of Mountain View (CC), who went 15:05, in leading his team to the title in the Division 1 Varsity Green race, one of six races titled for varsity boys athletes and teams. Leblond battled back and forth with Millikan (SS) sophomore Jason Parra, who crossed in 15:09. 

Parra was the second-fastest sophomore boy of the weekend behind Templeton (CS) 10th-grader Joshua Bell, who dropped a 15:07 solo effort on Friday. Those two sophs ranked seventh and ninth, respectively, in the boys merge.

The Great Oak boys and Mira Costa girls were the winners in the Division 1 Team Sweepstakes races. 

Mira Costa had an 89:48 team time with junior Anna Chittenden (17:46), junior Heather Jensen (18:57) and senior Lucca Franz (18:57) behind Frias and Parsley, all within the first 29 across. 

Anaheim Canyon (SS), ranked No. 2 in the state in D-II behind Mira Costa, was second led by seniors Emma Hadley, ninth in 17:50, and Isabella Frisone, 10th in 17:56, followed by sophomore Makena Oliva (16th in 18:32), Lindsay Guthrie (32nd in 19:01), and Heather Greenbaum (38th in 19:12).  A week after they captured the Orange County Championships, they were missing their fourth scorer.  

Great Oak's girls placed third in the team Sweeps, finishing ahead of San Diego Section's Torrey Pines by a 118-141 advantage.  Torrey Pines was without their top runner, Annika Salz as they look for a rematch against Great Oak later next month in a fight for a podium spot.  Claremont claimed the fifth spot with 143 points.  

The Great Oak boys, with three juniors in their scoring five, had a 77:23 team time and 24-second scoring gap. Ramses Cortes placed sixth in 15:16 with twin Mark Cortes next in ninth at 15:19. Senior Brandon Wilk was 17th in 15:33, junior Austin Elkins was 20th in 15:35, and senior Cameron Smith was 26th in 15:40. Great Oak ranked 1st in the boys merge.

Loyola, with four in the top 18, was second. Behind Moreno was junior Jake Ratkovich in 13th (15:26), followed by senior Dylan Bissell in 15th (15:32) and senior Nathan Mars in 18th (15:33). 

Continuing to consistently improve with every race, San Clemente was third. The Tritons had a 49-second scoring gap led by Juan Chantaca (eighth in 15:17), Hayden Beauchemin (16th in 15:32), and Rory Catsimanes (28th in 15:48).  

San Clemente edged out Central Coast Power, Bellarmine Prep, 139-140 while top-ranked in Division 2 for the Southern Section, Mira Costa scored 147 for fifth.  Crescenta Valley finished sixth with 171 points but keep in mind that they opted to rest out one of their best in Rowan Fitzgerald.  

Trabuco Hills (SS) freshman Carsten Williams (15:58) ranked 123rd as the top ninth-grader among the 5,307 boys timed over the weekend by Finished Results. There were 3,461 girls with times in the overall merge by Finished Results.


1. Mira Costa (SS) - 89:48
2. Canyon, Anaheim (SS) - 92:31
3. Cathedral Catholic (SD) - 93:39
4. Great Oak (SS) - 93:05
5. Claremont (SS) - 93:23
6. Torrey Pines (SD) - 93:58
7. Sage Creek (SD) - 94:28
8. Poway (SD) - 94:47
9. Del Norte (SD) - 94:49
10. Redondo Union (SS) - 95:02

1. Great Oak (SS) - 77:23
2. Loyola (SS) - 77:45
3. San Clemente (SS) - 78:36
4. Bellarmine Prep (CCS) - 78:36
5. Mira Costa (SS) - 78:52
6. Vista Murrieta (SS) - 78:52
7. Crescenta Valley (SS) - 79:09
8. Claremont (SS) - 79:34
9. Thousand Oaks (SS) - 80:00
10. Mountain View (CCS) - 80:04

1. Dalia Frias (Mira Costa-SS) 16:42
2. Aishling Callanan (Peninsula-SS) 17:15
3. Kelli Gaffney (Great Oak-SS) 17:22
4. Stormy Wallace (Sage Creek-SD) 17:25
5. Ella Parsley (Mira Costa-SS) 17:26
6. Denise Chen (Claremont-SS) 17:26
7. Georgia McCorkle (Agoura-SS) 17:37
8. Scarlett Taylor (Torrey Pines-SD) 17:41
9. Alexis Fernandez (West Ranch-SS) 17:41
10. Sydney Rome (Yorba Linda-SS) 17:44

1. Kenan Pala (Francis Parker-SD) 14:24
2. Max Sannes (Big Bear-SS) 14:48
3. Isaiah Givens (Pasadena-SS) 14:54
4. Chris Coles (Claremont-SS) 14:56
5. Zachary Ayers (Davis-SJ) 14:56
6. Emmanuel Leblond (Mountain View-CCS) 15:05
7. Joshua Bell (Templeton-CS) 15:07
8. Daniel Abramowicz (West Valley, Alaska) 15:08
9. Jason Parra (Millikan-SS) 15:09
10. Luke Stefanou (Palos Verdes-SS) 15:09

MileSplitCA Southern Section editor Mark Gardner contributed to this report.