RECAP Newbury Park Steals Show At CIF-Southern Section Final

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WALNUT -- It came as no surprise that Newbury Park won the Division I boys title at the CIF-Southern Section Cross Country Championships on Saturday morning at Mt. SAC.

But even when this team does the expected, these Panthers find a way to do the unfathomable. 

In an unprecedented performance, the Newbury Park boys not only won the large-school division title, but they did so with a perfect 15 points and -- AND --- a 1-6 finish!!

The Southern Section, according to its online record book, has been conducting cross country championships for boys since 1925. At no point in that long history has any team, regardless of school size, dropped a 15 -- FIFTEEN!! -- to win a championship. 

And as they came across four-wide, the debate was only who would touch the purple carpet first to claim the individual championship. When asked long after the race which boy won the section title, Newbury Park coach Sean Brosnan said he didn't know. 

That honor went to senior Colin Sahlman, whose time of 14:52.6 was just a tick in front of juniors Lex Young (14:52.7), Aaron Sahlman (14:52.8), and Leo Young (14:52.9). Senior Daniel Appleford wasn't too far behind in fifth at 14:59.2. So, yes, five under 15 minutes. With sophomore Dev Doshi just missing that benchmark, crossing the carpet in sixth place at 15:00.1. 

Loyola senior Richard Moreno took the honors of being the first non-Newbury Park boy across the line, placing seventh in 15:03.3, passing Millikan sophomore Jason Parra toward the end. Parra gave it his all in trying to tether to the wall of black-and-gold-clad Panthers, an endeavor that just may have cost him in the end -- admirable as it was -- placing eighth in 15:05.6. 

On a morning that started out foggy and cool that cleared and warmed up ever so gradually, highlights were mixed with euphoria, exhaustion as well as disappointment from the first gun at 7:45 a.m. until the final runners crossed the line less than four hours later. The iconic hilly just-under-3-mile challenge at Mt. SAC took its toll on some but returned lifetime memories for most.

The meet where individual and team champions were crowned in 10 divisions and State Meet qualifiers were identified, will forever be labeled as the meet where Newbury Park was perfect. 

Now 10 paragraphs into this, it should also be mentioned that Newbury Park also won the girls division title as Samantha McDonnell put on an impressive performance, running her course PR of 16:50.5, nearly 27 seconds in front of runner-up Isabella Duarte, a senior at Saugus, who crossed the line in 17:17.3 with Great Oak junior Kelli Gaffney in third place at 17:27.7. Vista Murrieta senior Isabella Smith was fourth in 17:31.1 and Newbury Park junior Ailish Hawkins placed fifth in 17:35.7. 

Along with sweeping the Division I team titles, Newbury Park also snapped long D-I winning streaks by both Great Oak teams. Newbury Park swept the D-II titles in 2019 while Great Oak was winning in D-I. Great Oak had won five consecutive team titles on the boys side, and eight in a row on the girls. For Newbury Park, the streak for boys is now at three, for girls it is two.

Great Oak, of course, had a change in coaches last spring, and Tammy Draughon, in her first year, guided both Wolfpack teams to runner-up finishes and said, with a smile, that she was happy with the results. And why shouldn't she be? The boys ran with precision and experience, placing second overall in the merge after closing with a 30-second scoring gap. The Wolfpack gals were fourth in the merge. 

All divisions with the exception of D-V girls were allotted seven team spots into the Nov. 27 State Meet at Woodward Park in Fresno. D-V girls qualified six teams. A maximum of five at-large individuals not on a qualifying team who placed among the top 20 also advanced. Qualifiers by division are listed. 

Breaking it down by divisions:



While Newbury Park had a jaw-dropping 7-second scoring gap and an 81-point win over Great Oak, the battle in this division was always going to be for second place. Great Oak, with that 30-second gap, was a six-point winner over Loyola, which gapped at an impressive 35 seconds. 

Leading the way for Great Oak was junior Ramses Cortes, who placed 13th (15:11.6) followed by senior Cameron Smith (18th, 15:23.5), his twin Carson Smith (15:29.1), junior Austin Elkins (27th, 15:32.5), and senior Brandon Wilk (36th (15:41.6). 

Supporting Moreno for Loyola was senior Dylan Bissell (24th, 15:30.1), junior Jake Ratkovich (25th, 15:31.1), senior Nathan Mars (32nd, 15:35.8), and junior Harrison Lavery (34th, 15:37.8).

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - Newbury Park, Great Oak, Loyola, Crescenta Valley, San Clemente, Vista Murrieta, Redondo Union

Individuals -

8. Jason Parra (Millikan, So.)

10. Mathew Donis (Highland, Jr.)

11. Brennan Foody (Aliso Niguel, Sr.)

14. Cesar Cuevas (Highland, Sr.)

17. Jimmy Dominguez (Santa Ana, Jr.)


Also scoring for Newbury Park was freshman Tiffany Sax, who placed eighth (17:51.4), senior Morgan Nygren (16th, 18:25.9), and senior Lexi Darley (20th, 18:35.8). 

Great Oak was a distant second with Southwestern League rival Vista Murrieta placing third. Junior Aishling Fabian placed 17th in 18:26.5, senior Divine Torza was 30th in 18:57.7, junior Ameya Teli was 35th in 19:02.8, and junior Cailin Osborne was 37th in 19:03.6 for the Wolfpack. This is the 13th consecutive season of Great Oak qualifying for the State Meet. 

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - Newbury Park, Great Oak, Vista Murrieta, Redondo Union, Huntington Beach, Chino Hills, Corona Santiago

Individuals -

2. Isabella Duarte (Saugus, Sr.)

6. Brianne Smith (Quartz Hill, Jr.)

10. Camille Lindsay (Long Beach Poly, Jr.)

11. Ashlynn Viramontes (Katella, Sr.)

13. Nicole Alfred (Rancho Cucamonga, Fr.)



Mira Costa's boys were a 16-point winner over Ayala, 92-108, led by junior Andrew Martin, who placed seventh (15:22.4), senior Seamus O'Meara, who placed ninth (15:26.4) and senior Max Levin, who placed 19th (15:36.0).  Arguably, Ayala's performance as a team was THE step-up performance of the meet.  

Dana Hills senior Jai Dawson bided his time in the chase pack behind first-half leader John Sesteaga of Glendora before making his move late and then held off Ayala senior Mason Ma to win the Division II title. Dawson's time of 14:55.2 was sixth in the merge while Ma's runner-up time of 15:00.0 ranked ninth at the meet. Claremont senior Chris Coles placed third (15:03.5) with Sesteaga hanging on for fourth (15:07.3). 

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - Mira Costa, Ayala, Ventura, Claremont, Hart, Dana Hills, Foothill

Individuals -

4. John Sesteaga (Glendora, Sr.)

5. Atticus Hall (Thousand Oaks, Sr.)

6. Jonah Bazerkanian (Royal, Jr.)

10. Garrett Hartline (El Toro, Jr.)

12. Ben Rippe (Norco, So.)


On the topic of history -- and there's undoubtedly more of this than perhaps we are aware as of this writing -- Mira Costa did in Division II what Newbury Park did in D-I, sweeping both the boys and girls titles. For the boys, it was the program's first title since 1969. For the girls, the last championship was back-to-back in 1981-82. 

Leading the way for the Mira Costa girls was D-II individual champion Dalia Frias, whose 16:48.6 was the fastest of the meet. What's even more impressive is the Duke-bound senior left impressive talent in her wake. Runner-up Aishling Callanan, a junior at Peninsula, was 18 seconds back, and Ventura freshman sensation Sadie Engelhardt was more than 32 seconds behind in third. How fast was that trio? How about numbers 1-3-5 in the merge!

Senior Ella Parsley placed fourth in 17:26.8, junior Anna Chittenden was ninth in 17:56.0, senior Lucca Franz was 31st (18:57.3) and junior Heather Jensen was 40th (19:15.7) in scoring for Mira Costa. 

That team title is even more impressive when considering that they beat Anaheim Canyon by just nine points, Claremont by 25, and Dana Hills by 46 

Canyon had a 59-second scoring gap, led by seniors Emma Hadley (11th in 18:00.2), Isabella Frisone (12th in 18:14.5), and sophomore Makena Oliva (15th, 18:26.4). Claremont put two in the top eight in sophomore Jie Yi Denise Chen (sixth in 17:38.5) and senior Maddie Coles (eighth in 17:55.6), with sophomore Alexa Gossett placing 14th (18:25.1). Junior Allura Markow led Dana Hills (fifth, 17:38.2) with freshman Annie Ivarsson placing 19th in 18:38.4. 

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - Mira Costa, Anaheim Canyon, Claremont, Dana Hills, Westlake, Ventura, El Toro

Individuals -

2. Aishling Callanan (Peninsula, Jr.)

7. Jadyn Zdanavage (Portola, Jr.)

10. Lilianna Hutchings (Norco, Fr.)

13. Hayden Washington (West Ranch, Sr.)

16. Hailie Lomeli (Citrus Valley, So.)



The fastest boy at the meet didn't wear a Newbury Park singlet -- although he did train with the Panthers last summer in Big Bear. That was Pasadena senior Isaiah Givens, who took full advantage of the first race of the day in the foggy cool of the morning to roll over the Mt. SAC layout in 14:48.2. He did so despite saying he hasn't been fully healthy. Just imagine what's possible when he is? 

Givens was 8.2 seconds faster than Servite senior Jared Steins (14:56.4) with Palos Verdes senior Will Kirk third in 15:00.6, West Torrance senior Conor Gibson fourth in 15:04.6, and St. John Bosco senior Christopher Chavez fifth in 15:14.3. 

Gibson's result led an impressive and gutsy performance to a team title by West Torrance. It was the very first race of the morning and there was a restart after a group of boys fell to the Mt. SAC airstrip asphalt. One of those boys was a member of the West Torrance team and he wasn't able to take the line for the restart. 

Nonetheless, West was a 60-point -- SIXTY! -- over Santa Margarita for the Division III team title as senior Matthew Frey placed 13th (15:30.4), junior Yudai Shimizu placed 16th (15:38.8), senior Hayden Green was 28th (15:54.1) and senior Kai Smith was 50th (16:18.6).

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - West Torrance, Santa Margarita, Capistrano Valley, St. John Bosco, Brea Olinda, Agoura, Dos Pueblos

Individuals -

1. Isaiah Givens (Pasadena, Sr.)

2. Jared Steins (Servite, Sr.)

3. Will Kirk (Palos Verdes, Sr.)

7. Jordan Galindo (Savanna, Sr.)

8. Luke Stefanou (Palos Verdes, Sr.)


Chino senior Mia Chavez battled with Agoura senior Georgia McCorkle and Yorba Linda junior Sydney Rome up front before pulling away for the division title in 17:36.1. McCorkle was second (17:42.4), Rome was third (17:47.7), Santa Margarita freshman Sophie Polay was fourth in 17:54.9 and Oak Park senior Madison Parrone was fifth in 18:01.7.

Sophomore Natalie Wang placed seventh (18:11.7) in leading Palos Verdes to a 42-point margin over Brea Olinda for the team title. It is the 14th team title for Palos Verdes girls and eighth since 2010. Palos Verdes is the only girls' team to defend its division title from the last CIF-SS XC Championships in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the 2020 fall season. Also scoring for Palos Verdes: Senior Emilie Barrett was 12th (18:23.0), freshman Michelle Nikmehr was 13th (18:25.0), freshman Trinity McKenny was 19th (18:59.2) and senior Greta Norris placed 40th (19:52.0). 

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - Palos Verdes, Brea Olinda, South Torrance, Oak Park, Dos Pueblos, Torrance, Santa Margarita

Individuals -

1. Mia Chavez (Chino, Sr.)

2. Georgia McCorkle (Agoura, Sr.)

3. Sydney Rome (Yorba Linda, Jr.)

6. Melisse Djomby Enyawe (Corona Del Mar, So.)

9. Nicole Reeves (Esperanza, Sr.)

Sophie Polay



Big Bear senior Max Sannes ran 15:11.4 to win the title by 12 seconds over Ridgecrest Burroughs junior Yaseen Sardar with Harvard Westlake senior Will Sheehy third (15:26.2). A quintet of seniors led Laguna Hills to the program's first boys team title, a narrow 13-point win over Cathedral.

Scoring for Laguna Hills was Lucas Rael in 14th (15:58.7), Diego Martinez in 20th (16:11.2), Jaedan Cornejo was 22nd (16:13.0), with Brandon Macasta 31st in 16:22.9 and Jack Stevens 48th in 16:47.5.

A pair of sophomores named Emmanuel led Cathedral. Emmanuel Perez placed fourth (15:27.0) and Emmanuel Hernandez placed seventh (15:41.7).

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - Laguna Hills, Cathedral, Harvard Westlake, Big Bear, St. Francis, Hacienda Heights Wilson, South Pasadena

Individuals -

2. Yaseen Sarder (Ridgecrest Burroughs, Jr.)

5. Alexandro Alvarez (La Salle, Jr.)

6. Michael Camilo Torres (Fillmore, Sr.)

11. Calvin Benedict (Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Sr._

12. Luca Romero (El Segundo, Jr.)


Oaks Christian sophomore Payton Godsey out-paced La Canada sophomore Arielle McKenzie and Laguna Hills freshman Holly Barker to win the individual title. Her time of 17:21.9 ranked sixth in the merge. McKenzie, who placed second in 17:28.8, ranked ninth in the merge. Barker was third in 17:54.9 with Oaks Christian sophomore Grace Geyer fourth (18:10.4) and JSerra freshman Brynn Garcia fifth in 18:10.6. Garcia led JSerra to the team title by 17 points over La Canada, which had a sixth-place finish by sophomore Katelyn Matarese.

Also scoring for JSerra, which won its sixth division title since 2010, was junior Anastasia Snodgrass, who placed 14th (18:43.1), junior Ellie Johnson (20th in 19:00.3), junior Cameron Murphy (23rd in 19:08.7), and sophomore Brooke O'Brien (27th in 19:12.3).

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - JSerra, La Canada, Laguna Hills, Harvard Westlake, South Pasadena, Oaks Christian, Bishop Amat

Individuals -

7. Danielle Hollander (Beverly Hills, Jr.)

9. Angelina Vasquez (Barstow, Jr.)

10. Alana Godfrey (Marymount, Sr.)

13. Kassidy Vargas (Castaic, So.)

15. Leah Tomlinson (Ridgecrest Burroughs, Sr.)



His given name is Jack but everyone calls him Rabbit and on this foggy morning one Rabbit Barnes was quick like a bunny, especially when it counted most in the second half of the race as he held off a stubborn freshman named Eyan Turk to win the individual title. Barnes, a senior at Midland, rolled over the purple carpet in 15:15.0 with Turk a few strides back in 15:16.6. Senior Xander Penaflor was third in 15:33.2 in leading Burbank Providence to the team title. Providence was 53 points better than runner-up Windward with senior Connor Flynn crossing eighth (16:22.6), junior Aidan Urbina 17th (16:35.3), freshman Henry Virtue (22nd, 16:53.3), and junior Trevor Deane (31st in 17:09.5).

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (7) - Burbank Providence, Windward, Viewpoint, St. Margarets, Chadwick. Woodcrest Christian, Sage Hill

Individuals -

1. Rabbit Barnes (Midland, Sr.)

10. Brent Roetcisoender (Lancaster Desert Christian, Sr.)

11. Kai Newman (Linfield Christian, Sr.)

12. Joe Bickford (Dunn, Sr.)

13. Sean Mucheru (Crossroads, Sr.)


Viewpoint junior JiaLian Mackey was nearly a 43-second winner in taking the indivudal title, running the Mt. SAC course in 17:55.7. Senior Ryley Burns was second in 18:38.6 while leading Linfield Christian to the team title. Senior Emma Lakatos placed eighth for Linfield in 19:03.0 with freshman Scarlett Welsome in 10th place (19:12.3), freshman Caylyn Russell in 26th place (20:15.5), and senior Hannah Barbieri in 38th place (20:45.8).

Rounding out the top five, Crossroads senior Julia Gerolmo placed third (18:40.2), Malibu freshman Tallula Murphree was fourth (18:47.6) and Mary Star of the Sea junior Claire Babbitt placed fifth in 18:54.2. Junior Liesel Blau was sixth (18:57.4) in leading team runner-up St. Margaret's, which had won the previous two section titles. 

State Meet Qualifiers

Teams (6) - Linfield Christian, St. Margarets, Viewpoint, Xavier Prep, La Reina, Cate

Individuals -

3. Julia Gerolmo (Crossroads, Sr.)

4. Tallula Murphree (Malibu, Fr.)

5. Claire Babbitt (Mary Star of the Sea, Jr.)

7. Aubrey Eaton (Burbank Providence, Fr.)

12. Isis Diaz (Sierra Canyon, Sr.)

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This article will be updated
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Photos by Jeffrey Parenti and Daniel Hernandez