41st Woodbridge Cross Country Classic
Buchanan's Sydney Sundgren (left), Newbury Park's Aaron Sahlman (center), and Ventura's Sadie Engelhardt (right) lead elite California athletes and teams into this week's Woodbridge Invitational. (Raymond Tran photos)
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Returning to Irvine's Great Park for the first time since 2015, the 41st Woodbridge Cross Country Classic is ready to roll this week! The meet has been one of the nation's largest invitationals for the past two decades. This year's edition will be contested with the smaller schools competing on Thursday and the larger schools, along with the celebrated Sweepstakes and Rated races being held Friday evening.
The meet has always been known for its flat and fast courses and when combined with some of the top-tiered talent in California and in this year's case, Texas -- and you have yourself one of the fastest invites in the nation!
Top athletes and teams from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah are among the competitors for this two-day event on the 3-mile layout in Irvine. The last time it was contested here, the top boys' time on the day was 14:24.3 with 34 boys breaking the 15-minute threshold in the Sweepstakes and Rated races combined. For the girls, 16:31.1 captured the Sweepstakes Race with 31 girls crossing in under 17:30.
With the weather cooling down just in time for the invite, we will see the temperatures drop into the low-70s for those elite races on Friday evening!
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This race is loaded like no other in meet history! Defending CIF-State Division I champion and nationally-ranked Buchanan (CS) headlines the action.
Ranked third in MileSplit50 national pre-season team rankings, senior Sydney Sundgren leads the way for the two-time Division I CA champions. Freshman Kynzlee Buckley will take the line for her first high school 3-mile race after shining with a 10:43 at the Kingsburg 2-miler last week.
Flying in from Lewisville, a suburb just north of Dallas, Texas, Flower Mound is the defending 6A State Champ and is currently ranked 10th in the nation! The Jaguars are led by junior twin sisters, Nicole and Samantha Humphries.
Just outside the national team rankings, Newbury Park (SS) and Great Oak (SS) will also bring their best with the former currently ranked on top of MileSplitCA's team rankings. Great Oak is currently No. 2 in California for Division 1. Kelli Gaffney leads Great Oak while Tiffany Sax and Ailish Hawkins (pictured) will lead the action up front for Newbury Park.
But, watch for JSerra Catholic (SS) to surprise many and be in the battle up front for this one. With the inclusion of freshmen Summer Wilson and Kaylah Tasser, this squad is off the national watchlist ... for now. The defending CA D-IV champions, and favored to defend their title in 2022, we will get an early season match-up between JSerra and Oaks Christian (SS), currently ranked second in the division in California.
Other top California squads to watch, all from the Southern Section, include Santiago (Corona), Canyon (Anaheim Hills), Ventura, and Mira Costa.
Individually, one of the nation's best in Ventura sophomore Sadie Engelhardt is the favorite coming in. She opened her season by breaking a 26-year-old course record in rolling to a 16:58 at the Gaucho XC Invite two weekends ago.
Shewaye Johnson of Prosper (TX) HS, along with the much-improved Alexandra Walsh of Southlake (TX) Carroll HS will also represent Texas in that individual battle up in front. One of the top freshmen from Texas in 2021, sophomore Adelynn Rodriguez of El Paso Eastwood HS is also projected to compete for a top-ten finish.
Another out-of-state talent traveling in is Mia Hall, of Flagstaff, Arizona. She just missed qualifying for the Eastbay Nationals a year ago with her 11th-place finish at the Western Regionals held at Mt. SAC.
Also among the top names in California, the aforementioned Sundgren is projected for a top-five finish while Oaks Christian junior Payton Godsey impressed in her 42+ second victory at the Marmonte League meet last week.
Huntington Beach (SS) junior Makenzie McRae also comes in after running the fastest time (17:23) at the Laguna Hills Invite, on one of the toughest courses in California. Clovis West (CS) freshman Cameron Macias has created headlines of late with her early season, two-mile efforts including a 10:42 last week!
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BOYS SWEEPSTAKES PREVIEW (Friday, 9:54 pm)
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Three of the top nine and four of the top 12 squads on our MileSplit team national rankings will toe the line to complete the action on Friday evening. But, that does not include Newbury Park, who, as a team, is focusing on meets down the road.
With that, the squad favored to run away with this one is Southlake (TX) Carroll HS, which is currently ranked third in the nation. The defending Texas State champions (from just outside the Dallas/Ft. Worth area) come in with six returners from their 2021 squad. Logan Cantu has led the way thus far but with the support of sophomore Blake Bullard and freshman Caden Leonard.
The sixth-ranked squad in the United States, the state's top squad in Division I is senior-laden Great Oak (SS). This will be a great battle that figures to come down to the wire with Ramses (at right above) and Mark Cortes (at left above) leading the way for the Wolfpack, with Gabriel Rodriguez, Nick Gaffney, and Nathan Lennox also slated to score.
Also, coming in from Texas, watch out for The Woodlands HS, which is ranked ninth in the nation. Flying in from the northern Houston suburb, the Highlanders were runner-up to Southlake Carroll at the Texas 6A State Meet last November. Watch for Pablo Lesarri, Straton Miller, and Ben Reyes to headline up front.
Granada (NC) of Livermore is currently ranked 12th in the nation and third in CA. Currently ranked second in the state, to Newbury Park for Division II, the Matadors were runners-up at the 2021 State Meet with Roland Ruckmann-Barnes, Farin Soriano, Eshaan Singh, and Liam Manley all returning as their top four scorers from a year ago.
The Utah 5A defending state champions, Mountain View out of Orem are led by Liam Heninger and return three of their top five. A familiar face is back in California as former Great Oak head coach, Doug Soles, brings his Herriman squad in from Utah. A southern suburb of Salt Lake City, their squad returns all seven from a year ago and is led by Noah Jenkins and William Horne.
Other top California squads featured include Ventura (SS), Trabuco Hills (SS), San Clemente (SS), Tesoro (SS), and Maders South and Clovis, both out of the Central Section.
Individually, Newbury Park's Aaron Sahlman has decided to enter the talent pool this past week. Ranked third on the MileSplit national individual list, only behind teammates, Lex and Leo Young, the senior placed sixth at the Garmin RunningLane Championship last year and is coming off one of the top track seasons in the nation. Sahlman placed second last year at Woodbridge, behind only meet record-setter Leo Young (13:38.1). Aaron Sahlman's time on the 3-mile SilverLakes course in Norco of 13:42.3 ranks third all-time in Woodbridge Classic meet history.
Tayson Echohawk of Orem, was 11th at the Garmin RunningLane Champs last year and runner-up at the 2021 Utah 5A state championships. Rendon Kuykendall of Albuquerque (NM) Hope Christian was 13th at RunningLane and is the defending state champion. He is currently ranked 10th in the nation as an individual.
Closer to home, one of California's best is Clovis senior Christopher Caudillo. Ranked ninth on the MS50 individual list, the senior was sixth at the 2021 Woodbridge Classic at the SilverLakes course (14:09.3). He is coming off a track season that saw him run 4:05 for the mile and 8:45 for the 3200 meters, win the CIF-State title for 1600m and place third in the 3200m final.
Also watch for Palmdale (CA) Highland's Matthew Donis, who captured the Cool Breeze Invite (14:37) while one of the top underclassmen in the nation is Millikan's Jason Parra. The junior is coming in off a 14:25 victory at the Rosemead Invite last weekend.
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3-MILE XC COURSE MAP at GREAT PARK (Irvine)
|41st WOODBRIDGE CROSS COUNTRY CLASSIC - RACE SCHEDULE|
|Thursday, September 15, 2022||Friday, September 16, 2022|
|5:00 PM||WHITE / RED||NOVICE BOYS||3:50 PM||GOLD / BLUE||NOVICE BOYS|
|5:20 PM||WHITE / RED||NOVICE GIRLS||4:10 PM||GOLD / BLUE||NOVICE GIRLS|
|5:40 PM||WHITE||FROSH BOYS||4:30 PM||GOLD||FROSH BOYS|
|5:52 PM||RED||JV GIRLS||4:42 PM||BLUE||JV GIRLS|
|6:04 PM||WHITE||SOPH BOYS||4:54 PM||GOLD||SOPH BOYS|
|6:16 PM||RED||FROSH GIRLS||5:06 PM||BLUE||FROSH GIRLS|
|6:28 PM||WHITE||JUNIOR BOYS||5:18 PM||GOLD||JUNIOR BOYS|
|6:40 PM||RED||SOPH GIRLS||5:30 PM||BLUE||SOPH GIRLS|
|6:52 PM||WHITE||SENIOR BOYS||5:42 PM||GOLD||SENIOR BOYS|
|7:04 PM||RED||FROSH BOYS||5:54 PM||BLUE||FROSH BOYS|
|7:16 PM||WHITE||JV GIRLS||6:06 PM||GOLD||JV GIRLS|
|7:28 PM||RED||SOPH BOYS||6:18 PM||BLUE||SOPH BOYS|
|7:40 PM||WHITE||FROSH GIRLS||6:30 PM||GOLD||FROSH GIRLS|
|7:52 PM||RED||JUNIOR BOYS||6:42 PM||BLUE||JUNIOR BOYS|
|8:04 PM||WHITE||SOPH GIRLS||6:54 PM||GOLD||SOPH GIRLS|
|8:16 PM||RED||SENIOR BOYS||7:06 PM||BLUE||SENIOR BOYS|
|8:28 PM||WHITE||VARSITY GIRLS-A||7:18 PM||GOLD||VARSITY GIRLS-A|
|8:40 PM||RED||VARSITY BOYS-A||7:30 PM||BLUE||VARSITY BOYS-A|
|8:52 PM||WHITE||VARSITY GIRLS-B||7:42 PM||GOLD||VARSITY GIRLS-B|
|9:04 PM||RED||VARSITY BOYS-B||7:54 PM||BLUE||VARSITY BOYS-B|
|9:16 PM||WHITE||VARSITY BOYS-A||8:06 PM||GOLD||VARSITY BOYS-A|
|9:28 PM||RED||VARSITY GIRLS-A||8:18 PM||BLUE||VARSITY GIRLS-A|
|9:40 PM||WHITE||VARSITY BOYS-B||8:30 PM||GOLD||VARSITY BOYS-B|
|9:52 PM||RED||VARSITY GIRLS-B||8:42 PM||BLUE||VARSITY GIRLS-B|
|8:54 PM||VARSITY GIRLS RATED|
|9:14 PM||VARSITY BOYS RATED|
|9:34 PM||BOB DAY'S GIRLS SWEEPSTAKES|
|9:54 PM||DOUG SPECK'S BOYS SWEEPSTAKES|
All courses: Leo Young (Newbury Park/SS) 13:38.1 in 2021 at SilverLakes
Great Park: Austin Tamagno (Brea Olinda/SS) 14:04.0 in 2014 (No. 16 overall)
All courses: Dalia Frias (Mira Costa/SS) 15:43.5 in 2021 at SilverLakes
Great Park: Destiny Collins (Great Oak/SS) 16:04.0 in 2014
All courses: Newbury Park (SS) 1:09.30 in 2021 at SilverLakes
Great Park: Great Oak (SS) 1:13.37 in 2014 (ranks 10th on all courses)
All courses: Buchanan (CS) 1:23.37 in 2017 at SilverLakes
Great Park: Great Oak (SS) 1:24.38 in 2014 (tied for 4th on all courses)
Mark Gardner is a teacher, announcer, former coach, and a regular contributor to MileSplit