Foothill League boys champion Ethan Danforth continued his impressive 2018 season by finishing in first place in the second heat of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 prelims at Riverside City Cross Country Course on Friday.
The senior from Canyon finished with a time of 15 minutes, 31.5 seconds in the three-mile race, almost two seconds ahead of second-place finisher Alexis Garcia of Newport Harbor and more than four seconds ahead of third-place finisher Jacob Kaufmann of Saugus.
“Prelims wasn’t anything too special, it was more of an appetizer,” Danforth said. “Although I feel extremely blessed to be healthy and move on to the finals with my boys to race for an even bigger accomplishment – state.”
Danforth’s teammates junior Alfredo DeAnda finished in sixth place with a time of 15:39.5 and sophomore Kyle Stevens finished in the No. 42 spot with a time of 16:23.2
“I just feel blessed to have certain boys on our team,” Danforth said. “We all have a good balance of working hard and having fun which can make running magical.”
Danforth has run well at the Riverside course in the past, with his latest time being the third-best finish he’s had at that course.
Last year he clinched the Division 2 championship on the same course, finishing with a time of 14:50.2.
“The actual physical course doesn’t give me an advantage,” Danforth said. “It’s the opportunity of running in that particular race that allows me to run with passion and a purpose unlike no others.”
Danforth’s teammates junior Frank Lofton and senior Andrew Mawhorter came in 63rd and 64th respectively, both finishing with a time of 16:42. Senior Ryan Hogan finished with a time of 17:23 and sophomore Fernando Osorio recorded a 17:42.2 result.
Golden Valley senior Daniel Rush placed third in the first heat of Division 2 prelims, finishing with a time of 15:30.5 and will be racing in the finals as well.
Along with Canyon, which finished in sixth place overall with a team score of 170, Saugus will represent the Foothill League at the CIF-SS Division 2 finals this Saturday after finishing in second place with a team score of 78.
Saugus had five boys runners finish in the top 35, helping the Centurions qualify for the finals.
Kaufmann finished third and Saugus sophomore Nick Serrano finished in eighth place with a time of 15:42. Sophomore Blake Gallardo finished in 11th with a 15:44.8 result.
Seniors Josh Duarte and Josh Chan finished with times of 16:07.8 (No. 28) and 16:15.4 (No. 33) respectively.
The Saugus girls cross-country team also qualified for the finals, finishing in third place with a team score of 97.
Senior Jacqueline Cascione came in third in the first heat with a time of 17:55.9 in the three-mile race. Junior Hailey Rutter finished in the No. 15 spot with a time of 18:41.5. Senior Shayla Cruz recorded a time of 19:14.7 (No. 23) and sophomore Danielle Salcedo came in at 19:16.9 (No. 24).
The West Ranch boys and girls squads also advanced and will participate in the Division 1 finals.
The boys team finished in first with an overall score of 95. The Wildcats had four runners finish in the top 20.
Senior Isaiah Seidman finished in 15th with a time of 15:24.6. His teammate and fellow senior Evan Bates came in a tenth of a second behind him at 15:24.7 as did sophomore Dylan Gatua. Junior Hunter Romine finished 20th with a time of 15:25.
The West Ranch girls team finished in second with a score of 106. Freshman Alexis Fernandez came in fourth place with a time of 17:49.9 and junior Abigail Welch finished in sixth with a time of 17:58.6. Senior Sophia Hoelzel came in at 18:35, good for 12th place.
The Valencia girls team also advanced after finishing in eighth place with a team score of 183.
Junior Hailey Kirsch clocked in at 17:39.6, good for third place and sophomore Ronnie Jones finished 25th with a time of 18:53.2. Sophomore Sydney Makar came in 30th with a time of 18:59.5.
The finals begin at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the same course in Riverside.
Danforth believes if his team maintains its focus, chances are the Cowboys can make a splash at the finals.
“What I’d say keeps our momentum going is the whole team being locked in with our training and consistent with doing the little things,” he said. “If we keep it up and everyone races their hearts out, no doubt about it the luxury of running at state is ours again.”