With a girls team that had finished the last 11 years on the podium at the CIF State cross country championships, Saugus had every reason to believe it would have a top-three finish at the this year’s race.
The Centurions ended the day with two.
Saugus’ boys team, which entered Saturday’s race at Woodward Park in Fresno ranked seventh, landed in third-place in the Division 2 race. Its girls team, led by a second-place finish from TCU signee Mariah Castillo (17:15.7), finished second behind Claremont.
The Centurions’ 12-straight trips to the podium at the state championships from their girls team is a state record.
“We went out hard against Claremont but we couldn’t close the distance,” said Saugus coach Rene Paragas. “They were the better team today.
“ … The boys side was a shocker. We didn’t win our league and we weren’t ranked inside the top five going in. For us to be the best (CIF-Southern Section) team and get on the podium, we took that as a win.”
Canyon’s Ethan Danforth (15:19.7) was unable to top Redlands East Valley’s Elias Opsahl (15:16.9) a second straight week, finishing second to him in the Division 2 race. West Ranch’s Isaiah Seidman (15:29.8) finished seventh and Preston Pope finished 21st (15:49.9), leading the Wildcats to sixth place, with Canyon finishing seventh.
“To have three Foothill League teams finish in the top seven, I think that was pretty special,” said Canyon coach Paul Broneer. “Out of all the teams, I believe we have the youngest, so that’s giving us a lot to look forward to.”
Danforth and Castillo both set record marks for their respective programs.
Castillo’s time was the fastest ever among Saugus — and Santa Clarita Valley — girls runners in a CIF State race. Her time qualified her for a trip to the Nike Cross Nationals next Saturday in Portland, Ore. She finished second to Capistrano Valley’s Haley Herberg (17:00)
“In any other division, she would’ve likely been a state champion,” Paragas said.
Danforth set Canyon’s junior record for a CIF State race and logged the second-best time in the race in school history, behind Dave Hartman, (14:51.1, 1990).
“It meant a lot just to see how all of our coaches and my teammates responded, Danforth said. “We’ve had some tough times but I’m just happy to help us get back to this point.”
Saugus’ Jacqueline Cascione (18:23) finished 14th and teammate Mackenna Park (18:57.5) finished 38th. Boon Andrews (15:55.6) led the Saugus boys team with a 24th-place finish and Juan Enciso (16:06) was second on the team in 36th place.
Canyon’s Patrick King took home 31st place (16:02.9) and West Ranch’s Evan Bates (16:06. 1) finished 37th.