41st Woodbridge Cross Country Classic
Ventura sophomore Sadie Engelhardt ran away with the Bob Day Sweepstakes title in a Woodbridge XC Classic meet-record time of 15:42.6. (Raymond Tran photo)
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IRVINE -- In what was announced as the nation's largest high school invitational with more than 400 boys and girls teams and well over 12,000 athletes competing in the two-day event, there was still one familiar result at the 41st annual Woodbridge Classic.
California remains at the top in key girls team and individual race results.
Among the six races Friday night in four varsity Blue/Gold divisions, a Rated varsity race and the Bob Day Sweepstakes finale, California teams won five of six titles. The top team, two-time defending CIF State Division I champion Clovis Buchanan, scored 91 points to win the sweepstakes title. The Bears, with five runners in the top 41, fended off several out-of-state competitors, including runner-up Southlake Carroll of Texas (107), third-place Cuthbertson of North Carolina (129), fifth-place Lewisville Flower Mound of Texas (178), sixth-place Arapahoe of Colorado (220) and seventh-place Mountain View of Utah (228).
Joining Buchanan as a sweepstakes winner was the race's top individual, Ventura sophomore Sadie Engelhardt. She set both a meet record and a personal-best for three miles with a 15:42.6 at the flat and fast Great Park course. Engelhardt's time is now the top three-mile time in the state this season.
"It's a huge race, a national race. Everyone's here," says Engelhardt. "It's a real blessing to be out here with all of these great girls. It's crazy to come here and win by I don't know how many seconds (Runner-up Payton Godsey of Oaks Christian went 15:51.9), but this is the first race to see where I am at with my training. Not to be negative, but I do question, asking myself, 'Am I ready for this?' So when I see that time, that's when it proves to me I can trust my training."
Engelhardt, who enjoyed a whirlwind of distance running success her freshman year, which includes being the 2021-22 Gatorade California Girls Track and Field Player of the Year, enjoyed a post-race celebration. She was immediately surrounded by fellow female runners, younger and older who were both in the sweepstakes race running with her and by many more girls who had raced earlier in the day, clamoring to get a picture and to speak to their inspiring idol. Engelhardt, who just turned 16 last week, was gracious, patient and willing to oblige several verbal requests. She reciprocated many by asking how they did in their races to celebrate their effort.
Engelhardt's victory was the highlight among the individual races Friday night. Hers gave California three wins -- Lodi junior Kiah Aitken won the Girls Gold Varsity B race in 17:51.4 and Buchanan sophomore Avery Hutchison won the Girls Blue Varsity A race in 17:36.6 -- offsetting three wins by out-of-state individuals.
Orem (Utah) senior Lydia Beus won the Girls Rated Varsity race in 16:29.8 to help Orem win the team title with 143 points; Alexis Pagel, a senior from Perry (Ariz.), was the top individual in the Girls Blue Varsity B race in 17:38.1; and Lindsay Siebert of Crater (Oregon) won the Girls Gold Varsity A race in 17:32.3. Each winner notched a personal-best time.
Buchanan's sweepstakes team victory was led by senior Sydney Sundgren, who finished 10th overall in 16:14.7. She was followed by sophomore Elle Lomeli (16:15.3, 11th place), freshman Kynzlee Buckley (16:19.6, 13th), sophomore Sierra Cornett (16:42.8, 28th) and senior Caroline Mendyk (17:01.3, 41st).
"It was a good race, but coming in, because it was a different course than last year, I didn't quite know what to expect," says Sundgren, who had previously only run the Woodbridge race when it was located at the SilverLakes Sports Complex course in Norco. This year's race was the third time Great Park in Irvine has hosted the meet, but the course layout this year was not the same when it hosted in 2014 and 2015. "I'm so proud of our team. We ran well and a few of our girls were running their first Woodbridge race."
Sundgren noted that Buchanan's team, which ran its first three-mile competitive race of the season on Friday, is still "working through some stuff," but the sweepstakes victory was definitely a step in the right direction at this point.
California teams joining the CIF Central Section's Buchanan as varsity race champions Friday were three CIF Southern Section teams and one from the CIF Los Angeles Section: Harvard-Westlake won the Girls Gold Varsity A title with 79 points; Thousand Oaks, Girls Gold Varsity B (79); Tesoro Girls Blue Varsity A (111); and LAC's Granada Hills, Girls Blue Varsity B (61).
The top runner for each Friday varsity division team title winner: Senior Kendra Ross from Harvard-Westlake finished third in a PR time of 18:00.4; Senior Paytonne Evans of Thousand Oaks was sixth overall with a 18:19.1 PR; Tesoro's best was senior Alizee Garcia Parsons, 11th overall in a PR of 18:21.9; and Granada Hills' Jocelyn Pacheco, a senior, was fifth overall in 17:55.1 for a PR.
California teams swept the four varsity title races in the Red and White divisions on Thursday.
St. Lucy's took the White Varsity A Division with 90 points, edging Palo Alto's Castilleja, who had the top three finishers, but totaled 93 points. The White Varsity B title was claimed by South Pasadena (52 points), which had two runners in the top five with PR times, sophomores Abigail Errington (17:22.9, 4th place) and Amelie Geoffron (17:26.7, 5th). Palos Verdes won the Red Varsity A title with 87 points, led by a fourth-place finish by sophomore Michelle Nikmehr's PR time of 17:49.3. The Red Varsity B team title was won by Santa Monica (68 points). The team's top runner was the individual winner, sophomore Phoebe Benun, who PR'd in 17:35.2.
The Woodbridge Classic had a total of 52 races, 24 (11 girls races) on Thursday and 28 (13 girls races) on Friday. Notably, this meet provides a fast, flat course and thus, personal-best times are common at all grade levels.
Thursday's individual female winners (* denotes PR, ^ denotes season best) are: Alyssa Baranick, Placentia El Dorado, Freshman, Red/White Novice Division, 21:44.8; Esther Kim, Fullerton Sunny Hills, Junior, Red JV Division, 19:31.8; Maddie Farnsworth, Palos Verdes, Red Freshman Division, 19:22.5; Tallula Murphee, Malibu, Red Sophomore Division, 19:16.4*; Grace Toriz, Anaheim Western, Junior, White JV Division, 19:24.5*; Raden Estridge, South Pasadena, White Freshman Division, 19:53.8; Jazlyn Couch, Sacred Heart of Jesus, White Sophomore Division, 18:36.2*; Daniella Henderson, Palo Alto Castilleja, Senior, White Varsity A, 17:19.8; Danielle Hollander, Beverly Hills, Senior, White Varsity B, 16:54.2^; and Nicole Bridges, Bakersfield Liberty, Junior, Red Varsity A, 16:59.3.
Friday's additional individual female winners (* PR) are: Alexis Blankenship, Peninsula, Sophomore, Blue/Gold Novice Division, 20:20.7; Bailey Hooley, Lewisville Flower Mound, (Texas), Junior, Blue JV Division, 18:11.2; Rachel Reyes, El Camino Oceanside, Blue Freshman Division, 18:49.3; Lexi Palacios, Alta Loma, Blue Sophomore Division, 18:46.7*; Caroline Gill, La Canada, Senior, Gold JV Division, 19:22.4*; Zoe Johnson, Clovis East, Gold Freshman Division, 19:06.4; Darcy Ray, San Diego University City, Gold Sophomore Division, 19:05.6*.
For more girls' individual and team results from the Woodbridge Classic, please visit MileSplit's results page.
1. (1.) Sadie Engelhardt (Ventura/SS/So.) 15:42.6
2. (2.) Payton Godsey (Oaks Christian/SS/Jr.) 15:51.9
3. (7.) Brynn Garcia (JSerra/SS/So.) 16:09.7
4. (10.) Sydney Sundgren (Buchanan/CS/Sr.) 16:14.7
5. (11.) Elle Lomeli (Buchanan/CS/So.) 16:15.3
6. (13.) Kynzlee Buckley (Buchanan/CS/Fr.) 16:19.6
7. (14.) Tessa Buswell (Poway/SD/Jr.) 16:20.4
8. (17.) Ailish Hawkins (Newbury Park/SS/Sr.) 16:22.3
9. (18.) Tiffany Sax (Newbury Park/SS/So,) 16:24.0
10. (19.) Brianne Smith (Quartz Hill/SS/Sr.) 16:28.9
1. Buchanan (CS) 1:22.33
2. JSerra (SS) 1:24.30
3. Newbury Park (SS) 1:25.37
4. Rancho Cucamonga (SS) 1:27.20
5. Great Oak (SS) 1:27.40
6. Dana Hills (SS) 1:27.48
7. La Canada (SS)* 1:28.00
8. Corona Santiago (SS) 1:28.05
9. Torrey Pines (SD) 1:28.28
10. Ventura (SS) 1:28.37
11. Cathedral Catholic (SD) 1:29.10
12. (tie) Oaks Christian (SS) 1:29.24
12. (tie) Trabuco Hills (SS) 1:29.24
14. Monte Vista (NC) 1:29.44
15. Menlo-Atherton (CC) 1:30.05
Ryan Blystone is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit