RECAP Holly Barker, Juan Chantaca Big Winners at OC Champs

Laguna Beach sophomore Holly Barker celebrates her second consecutive Varsity Girls Sweepstakes title at the Orange County Championships held at Oak Canyon Park. (Stacy Soriano photo)

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SILVERADO - Laguna Hills sophomore Holly Barker and San Clemente senior Juan Chantaca were the big individual winners and JSerra's girls and San Clemente's boys were the runaway team champions at the two-day Orange County Championships held at Oak Canyon Park in Silverado. 

Barker fended off a stellar field to run the modified 3-mile course in 16:51.6 to win the Girls Sweepstakes race on Saturday for the second year in a row. She was the only girl at the meet to dip under 17 minutes on the mostly flat layout that no longer included a big hill nor the unique BMX-style mound. 

A year ago, running in hot conditions, Barker won by nearly 34 seconds. On Saturday, in cool, breezy conditions with drizzle -- weather conditions she said she prefers -- Barker was just a stride ahead of Garcia at the midway point, hitting 8:28.5 on the split. It was the third victory in four races this season for one of the state's elite sophomores.


JSerra sophomore Summer Wilson placed second in the Girls Sweeps, running the course in 17:01.5 and sophomore teammate Brynn Garcia crossed the line next in 17:03.6 as the Lions won the team title by 51 points on Trabuco Hills. Not that that's a surprise. Coach Chase Frazier's squad is among the state and nation's best. 

Saturday morning JSerra took the line while resting star senior Anastasia Snodgrass yet went 1-2-6-10-15 in scoring. Frosh Kaylah Tasser was seventh overall in 17:28.9, followed by junior Brooke O'Brien in 14th (17:47.7), and junior Georgia Jeanneret in 20th (17:54.9). 

Huntington Beach junior Makenzie McRae was fourth in 17:09.0, followed by Dana Hills senior Allura Markow (17:18.2), and Trabuco Hills senior Danica Brinkman (17:23.0). After Tasser, Portola senior Jadyn Zdanavage was eightht in 17:31.4 and El Toro sophomore Dakota Danaher closed with a flurish, making up 13 placement spots over the final mile to place ninth in 17:40.8.

Chantaca went 14:26.4 and needed a sprint-finish to claim the title in the Boys Sweepstakes race, fending off Dana Hills sophomore Evan Noonan (14:26.8), teammates Brett Ephraim (14:28.4) and Rory Catsimanes (14:29.7) to the line. 

"It was actually my first big victory, placing first overall," said Chantaca, who placed 10th in this race as a junior. "I knew that I had the ability to run it and I just showed it today."

In winning for the second consecutive year, San Clemente scored 34 points, 65 points ahead of runner-up Trabuco Hills. No surprise there, as the Tritons are arguably the top Division I team in CA.

For the Tritons, behind Chantaca, Ephraim, a junior, and Catsimanes, a senior, were junior Pierce Clark in 13th overall (15:02.0) and senior Grant Sestak in 15th overall (15:04.6).

El Toro senior Garrett Hartline placed fifth in 14:31.1, followed by Godinez junior Jayden Hernandez (14:31.7), Trabuco Hills sophomore Carsten Williams (14:33.9), and Santa Ana senior Jimmy Dominguez (14:35.4). 

The event, which attracted 70 schools and nearly 3,000 athletes, begin Friday afternoon with small schools competition, which included a varsity championship as well as a special PSAT race for athletes unable to compete Saturday because of a scheduling conflict with the placement test. 

In Friday afternoon's competition, Corona del Mar junior Melisse Djomby Enyawe won the Varsity Girls Small Schools race, running 17:24.6, which ranked seventh in the two-day merge. Savanna junior Matthew Galindo won the Varsity Boys Small Schools race in 15:08.0, which ranked 17th in the merge. Neither winner was challenged over the second half of the race. 

Girls Small Schools runner-up Morgan McAndrew, a junior from Fullerton, crossed more than a minute behind Djomby Enyawe in 18:25.2. Esperanza junior Ella Boyer was third in 18:32.1. 

Galindo was nearly a 22-second winner over Corona del Mar freshman Kevin Steinman, who crossed in 15:29.9 with Brea Olinda senior Dominick Garcia third in 15:44.2. 

Photos by Stacy Soriano and Raymond Tran