Canyon’s Ethan Danforth sat at the finish line patiently waiting while a Canyon supporter braided his hair ahead of the Foothill League Championships at Central Park on Thursday.
“It’s kind of like a pre-game ritual,” Danforth said. “It just helps me relax and it’s just a custom now.”
Something else has become customary for Danforth: winning.
Finishing the 3-mile race with a time of 15 minutes, 04.66 seconds, Danforth took home the Foothill League boys title and helped Canyon to a third-place team finish, just behind second-place Saugus.
“I’m happy about it but I still don’t feel satisfied,” Danforth said. “You should never feel satisfied with how you do because you can always improve. It’s just a little confidence boost heading into the postseason and I’m really looking forward to what my boys and I can do there.”
Danforth finished a little more than four seconds ahead of West Ranch’s Isaiah Seidman, who came in second with a time of 15:09.48, leading the West Ranch boys team to their fourth consecutive Foothill League title as the Wildcats had four runners finish inside the top six in the race.
“Coming down to the last 400 meters we were right next to each other pushing back and forth,” Seidman said of the battle with Danforth. “But I felt great the whole race. I’m happy that we got the win today because that’s all I was focused on was the team winning, not really what place we came in. So I’m happy for us to get four league titles in a row.”
Golden Valley’s Daniel Rush finished in third place, clocking in at 15:17.54.
“I came in wanting to get top six and I got that so I was really happy,” Rush said. “I knew that they (Danforth and Seidman) have really strong finishes so I knew I had to take the race out and in the last 800 I was trying my best to get up to them but they pulled away.”
With the third-place finish, Rush will be the only boy representative from the Foothill League to qualify for CIF-Southern Section Individuals.
Hart, Valencia and Golden Valley boys varsity rounded out the bottom half of the Foothill League team results.
The Saugus girls varsity took home their 13th-straight Foothill League title, eclipsing Canyon’s previous record of 12.
“It’s really about legacy,” said Saugus coach Kevin Berns. “The girls previously set the mark and the girls currently understand that they will be setting their own legacy and they have to follow through with the legacy of the past.”
The Centurions ended the meet with six runners finishing within the top nine as Julia Pearson and Brooklyn Bendrat were the top two runners, finishing in third and fourth place.
West Ranch finished in second place with Valencia rounding out the top three.
Leading from start to finish, Valencia’s Hailey Kirsch took home the top varsity girls individual honor clocking in a time of 18:03.26 seconds, a full eight seconds ahead of second-place finisher, West Ranch’s Alexis Fernandez.
“Our program is working really hard and I have seen great improvements this year alone,” Kirsch said. “We have done better than ever in Valencia history and I believe that our program is really stepping up and maybe some of these teams should watch out next year.”
Canyon, Golden Valley and Hart teams finished fourth through sixth.
CIF-SS Prelims will be held next weekend on Friday, Nov. 9 Saturday, Nov. 10 at Riverside City Cross Country Course in Riverside. CIF-SS Finals will be held the following weekend on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the same location.