RECAP Newbury Park, Dana Hills Lead Boys CIF-SS Winners

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WALNUT -- Although pursuit of the reward is the same, the strategy employed by high schools competing in the CIF-Southern Section Cross Country division championship finals at the hilly Mount San Antonio College course is multiple choice.

Finish among the top seven teams in any of the five divisional races and your team advances to the CIF-State Championships on Saturday, Nov. 26 at Fresno's Woodward Park. Up to five individuals from non-qualifying teams who finish among the top 20 in each division final race also punch their ticket to State.

But for five boys teams Saturday -- San Clemente in Division 1, Newbury Park in Division 2, Division 3's Dana Hills, Division 4's St. Francis and Division 5 for Calabasas' Viewpoint -- advancement to the State Meet came with a shiny new plaque for winning their respective division's championship.

Three teams, San Clemente, Viewpoint and St. Francis, each won their program's first SS division title in cross country. Newbury Park, meanwhile, notched its fourth SS team championship since 2018, and third in Division 2. Dana Hills secured its first team championship since 2009 and first in Division 3. Dana Hills won three consecutive Division 1 team titles between 2007-09.

Newbury Park had Saturday's lowest team score with 25, led by its usual top runners, Stanford-bound senior twins Lex Young and Leo Young finishing first and second, 14:38.1 and 14:38.2, respectively, and senior Aaron Sahlman, a new commit to Northern Arizona, not far behind in 14:43.8 to finish third. Brayden Seymour, the summer transfer from Florida running the Mt. SAC course for only the second time (and second time in as many weeks), placed sixth in 15:00.6. Junior Dev Doshi placed 13th in 15:24.5 to complete the Panthers scoring.

Newbury Park, ranked U.S. No. 1 in the MileSplit50 national rankings, had team time of 74:26, surpassing the 74:31 they posted a year ago while putting the first six runners across the line to establish what was announced as a new Mt. SAC course record. A year ago, the twins and Sahlman all crossed in sub-14:53, and Doshi ran 15:00 for sixth.


How many Southern Section boys team champions will also win State titles?

Newbury Park, which dropped down to Division 2 this year after winning the Division 1 SS and State titles in 2021, will be joined teamwise at the State Meet by Ventura (90), Mira Costa (129), Tesoro (150), Santa Barbara (173), Saugus (182) and Ayala (205). Individual D2 State qualifiers are KC Barber of Westlake (seventh, 15:05.4); Garrett Hartline of El Toro (ninth, 15:14.8); Ethan Romero, Citrus Valley (14th, 15:26.4); Ben Rippe, Norco (16th, 15:31.6) and Paul Mangione, Hart (17th, 15:31.7).

San Clemente had the next lowest team title score with 73 points to top fellow State-bound Great Oak (95), Trabuco Hills (149), Crescenta Valley (150), Arcadia (175), Loyola (195) and Santiago - Corona (204). While Palmdale Highland senior Matthew Donis scorched the field and all other runners with a 14:35 time to win the race and earn an individual berth into the State Meet, San Clemente's Juan Chantaca was second in 14:59.8. The Tritons' five runners had a five-man gap time of 51 seconds with its fifth runner finishing 36th. Individuals qualifying for State were Donis, Cameron Rhone of Long Beach Poly (fourth, 15:07.9); Etiwanda's Gabriel Castillo (sixth, 15:08.1); Jimmy Dominguez of Santa Ana (seventh, 15:08.9) and Jason Parra of Long Beach Millikan (12th, 15:15.1).

St. Francis tallied 76 points in winning the Division 4 title. It won against a competitive field that also advanced to State in Palos Verdes (93), St. John Bosco (123), Foothill Technology (135), Cathedral (137), Oaks Christian (176) and Ridgecrest Burroughs (223). St. Francis of Hayden Owen of St. Francis, a senior, was Saint Francis' top finisher, coming in fifth in 15:10.9. Meanwhile the depth of strong runners was led by Cathedral's Emmanuel Perez (first, 14:50.5); Zion Ortiz of Burroughs (second, 15:04.9), Jonah Billings from Foothill Technology (third, 15:09.2) and Luca Romero of El Segundo (fourth, 15:10). Romero was the top individual to advance to State, followed by Kael Jex of Big Bear (eighth, 15:24.3); Diego Varela of Bishop Amat (11th, 15:36.8); San Marino's Benjamin Hughes (12th, 15:39.9); and Diego Urdiales of Damien (14th, 15:44.2). 

Perhaps the most incredible team victory belonged to Viewpoint in Division 5 with 123 points. The team had a five-man gap time of 23 seconds -- the best of any boys team, regardless of division -- but won with its top runners finishing 25th and 26th overall. Sophomore Jordan Conley was 25th in 17:08.2 and freshman Olly O'Connor was next at 17:10.2. Junior Kasey Lee (29th, 17:12.5), senior Maximo Rusmeepongskul (31st, 17:13.5) and junior Ethan Rush (45th, 17:30.4) completed Viewpoint's scoring.

Joining them at the State Meet in D5 race are St. Margaret's Episcopal (135), Windward (157), Woodcrest Christian (175), which had the overall winner, sophomore Eyan Turk in 15:14.6, Burbank Providence (176), Hawthorne MSA (179) and Cerritos Valley Christian (201). State-bound individuals are Joshua Thomas of Chadwick (fourth, 15:42.1); Hugo Guckert of Santa Monica Crossroads (fifth, 15:56.7), Mehari Winheim of Lancaster Desert Christian (sixth, 15:58.5) Sebastian Sutch of Cate (seventh, 16:07.6) and Academy for Academic Excellence's Elijah Lovett (ninth, 16:11.3).

The day's final boys' race, Division 3, was won by Dana Hills with 89 points. Evan Noonan, a sophomore for Dana Hills, won the individual title with a time of 15:03.7. Qualifying as teams for State are Moorpark (125), Santa Margarita (141), Thousand Oaks (142), West Ranch (146), West Torrance (157) and Dos Pueblos (169). Five individuals qualified: Sonora's Alexandro Vielma finished second in 15:13.1, followed by Redlands East Valley's Emmanuel Wallace (fourth, 15:14.9); Caleb McDaniel of Mission Viejo (sixth, 15:39.6); Matthew Galindo of Anaheim Savanna (seventh, 15:43.5) and Jaron Chua of Rowland (12th, 15:51). 

To view complete results from the CIF-SS division finals, please visit here.

Photos by Raymond Tran

Ryan Blystone is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit