It’d be an understatement to say Saugus High girls cross country cruised through Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2 prelims at Riverside City Cross Country Course.
The Centurions, winners of eight sectional titles in the last 10 years, rested three of their top runners and still won their heat.
Cent Kaylee Thompson led the way, taking first individually in the heat (17 minutes, 10.7 seconds). For this Saturday’s finals, at the same location as prelims, she’ll be accompanied by Mariah Castillo, Jakee Victoria and Abby Davis, all of whom coach Rene Paragas elected to rest at prelims.
Saugus will also have Mackenna Park, who competed for the first time this season on Saturday after a misdiagnosed injury cost her most of the year.
Park was projected to be one of the Centurions’ top three runners.
“We feel we’re getting stronger every week,” Paragas said of entering the finals.
The Cents will be joined in the Division 2 finals by the West Ranch and Hart girls.
West Ranch finished fourth in the same heat as Saugus, while Hart took sixth in a separate heat to advance.
Sophia Hoelzel was West Ranch’s top finisher (seventh in the heat, 17:49.9), while Anely Avila (ninth, 18:01) finished first for Hart.
“Coming into this season, five out of the seven girls didn’t have varsity experience,” said West Ranch coach Sara Soltani, who is in her first season with the program after coming over from Golden Valley. “All our scorers are freshmen or sophomores. The ultimate goal was for them to make it to CIF finals. We’ve reached the goal that we presented early on in the summer.
“Anything else is icing on the cake.”
Soltani said the goal for the West Ranch boys, which took second in their heat Saturday, is to finish in the top three in the Division 2 finals.
In their prelim heat, West Ranch’s Jack Arnold took second (15:03.2), West Ranch’s Preston Pope took fifth (15:07.1) and Saugus’ Boon Andrews came in sixth at 15:11.3.
Saugus took third in the heat, 32 points behind the Wildcats. Both teams rested at least one top runner.
In Division 5 boys, Trinity Classical Academy advanced by placing seventh in its heat. Knight Shane Lintuerer finished 18th in 16:58.2.
For the D5 girls, Trinity’s Elena Martinelli advanced as an individual, placing 10th in her heat (20:00.4).
On Friday last week, the Valencia boys advanced to the Division 1 finals, and Valencia girls runner Hailey Kirsch advanced as an individual.
The first race Saturday is scheduled for 7:45 a.m.