The Canyon track and field team hosted West Ranch for the first Foothill League dual meet of the season on Thursday, as the Cowboys embark on a journey for their tenth straight varsity boys title and the Wildcats aim for a third consecutive varsity girls crown.
Canyon will also look to improve on its fourth-place finish from last year on the girls’ side, and have a strong shot at doing so with the help of talented freshman Emily Guluzza.
Guluzza started the afternoon off with a win in the girls 1600-meter and followed it up with a victory in the 3200-meter later in the day.
“It feels awesome. All the hard work is paying off,” Guluzza said moments after winning the 1600-meter. “I’m feeling pretty tired, going to do some cool down laps and get ready for the next one.”
“She’s been fantastic. She’s only been out here for about four and a half weeks and she has no clue what she’s doing,” Canyon co-head coach George Velarde said of Guluzza with a smile. “She’s just running on talent and pure guts and more importantly, she’s trusting the coaches. She is so coachable, it’s a lot of fun.”
The boys varsity 4×100 relay provided some early drama as West Ranch gained a lead on the first leg, but a mishandled handoff caused the Wildcats to fall behind when the baton hit the ground.
That was until West Ranch senior Mya Davis, anchoring the team, got the baton and took off, sprinting full speed to pass his competitor and escaping with the narrow win.
“This is my first time in a while being anchor and I get to see the whole race happen, and at the third leg when the baton dropped I was like (inhaling), but I knew I had to still finish the race no matter what,” Davis said. “Even if we were DQ’d, still finish the race. It definitely makes a memory, It’s a great memory starting off my senior year, it was really fun.”
Davis believes the West Ranch boys team, who finished in fifth last year, can make a splash this season and advance several runners to state.
“I think we have a lot of good runners this year,” he said. “I feel like some of us are going to go to state this year. I have a really good feeling about this team.”
Canyon senior Ethan Danforth, the 2018 boys cross-country Runner of the Year, is already translating his success in cross-country to the track, evidenced by his first-place finish in the boys 1600-meter on Thursday.
Danforth along with senior Jacob Lopez, who is the runaway league favorite in boys discus and shot put, will be key contributors for Canyon throughout the season.
Add junior Tyler Cash, who is a favorite in the boys high jump, and the Cowboys have a dynamic threesome that will be scoring a ton of points.
“Obviously with Lopez being very strong in the discus and shot put we’re almost guaranteed a first. Tyler Cash in the jumps and of course as The Avengers say, ‘We have a Hulk,’ we have an Ethan,” Velarde said. “When you have superstars like we’ve been very fortunate to have, it makes it really fun to coach these kids.”
The end results were close for both boys and girls, with the Cowboys winning on the boys side 75-67 and the Wildcats winning on the girls side 70-66.
While the girls lost in a tight matchup, Guluzza still believes they could end up near the top of the league as long as they continue to put in the work.
“I feel real honored to be able to represent Canyon and get some dubs for them and keep working hard,” she said. “We just need to keep working hard and keep our mindset strong and keep practicing every day and we’ll be good.”
Both teams will be competing at the Redondo Invitational on Friday and Saturday before returning to league action on Thursday, March 14.
Golden Valley at Hart
The Golden Valley varsity boys and girls team defeated Hart on Thursday at Hart High School. The boys won by a score of 105-21 and the girls won 94-32.
The Grizzlies took the top prize in the 100 (Kory Bacon at 11.49), 200 (Jalen Davis at 22.58) and 400-meter (Samuel Malik at 49.64), while the Indians won the 800-meter behind senior Jeremiah Rasmussen’s time of 1:58.45.
Golden Valley senior Daniel Rush finished with a time of 4:41.19 to win the boys 1600-meter.
Freshman Tylar Gallien won the girls 100-meter with a time of 12.75 seconds and sophomore Yleana Lopez won the girls 200-meter at 25.94 for the Grizzlies.
Golden Valley sophomore Kienan Donovan won the boys shot put (51-4) and discus throw (158-5). Senior Shyann Franklin also won the girls shot put (42-3) and discus throw (96-2) for the Grizzlies.
Golden Valley will compete at the Redondo Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Hart will be at the Simi Valley Invitational on Friday.
Saugus at Valencia
The Centurions defeated the Vikings on both the boys and girls side at Valencia High School on Thursday, with the former winning by a score of 81-55 and latter winning 93-42.
Valencia junior Tylyn Cook and Saugus junior Isaiah Turner went head-to-head in the boys 100 and 200-meter. Cook grabbed the victory in the 100-meter (10.93), while Turner was able to win the 200-meter (22.57)
Valencia senior Kai Wingo won the boys 800-meter with a time of 1:57.38.
Adam West, a senior for the Vikings, finished on top in the boys long jump (19-5) and pole vault (12-6).
Senior Gaetano Ferrera won both the boys shot put (50-9) discus throw (162-5) for the Cents. Saugus senior Kayla Medof also won the girls shot put (33-0 3/4) and discus throw (103-11).
Paxton Downs, a senior, won the girls triple jump (29-5) and long jump (14-3 1/2) for Saugus.
Both teams will also be competing at the Redondo Invitational.