After being postponed due to the Saddleridge Fire that ripped through parts of San Fernando Valley and impacted sports in the Santa Clarita Valley, the 35th Annual SCV Cross-Country Invitational took place at Castaic Lake on Saturday.
Although around 18 teams dropped out of the competition, Foothill League schools like Canyon and Saugus showed up with numerous runners finishing inside the top 20 of both the boys and girls varsity races.
“Over the years, we have had teams from Arizona, Nevada, Mammoth and of course all the loyal ones in Southern California that come to our meet,” said Canyon head coach George Velarde. “We still had a very good meet, we just had less teams.”
The Saugus girls team, which is ranked No. 3 in this week’s CIF-Southern Section Cross-Country Division 1 rankings, finished as the top girls team, while the Canyons girls team came in third place.
The Canyon boys team took home the top spot, edging out El Camino Real, while the Saugus boys team finished sixth.
Saugus junior Hannah Fredericks led the Centurions girls team to a first-place finish as the top girls runner in 17 minutes, 9.68 seconds.
Teammates Hailey Rutter (17:30.51) Isabella Duarte (18:02.39) and Dani Salcedo (18:12.66) rounded out the top five girls runners in third, fourth and fifth place.
Ronnie Jones recorded a ninth-place finish, while Julia Pearson and Kaela Berretta concluded the Saugus girls runners coming in 13th and 15th place.
Canyon girls runner Angelee Berganio was the top girls runner on the day, finishing in seventh place in 18:44.85, while Fernando Osorio and Melissa Duncan finished among the top 20 girls runners in 18th and 20th place, respectively.
Canyon’s sophomore girls runner Kayla Young has really shown her dedication and commitment to the sport after finishing in 14th place in 19:28.90.
“Kayla is a dual-sport athlete, she plays club soccer and also plays soccer for Canyon, so we have to share her,” Velarde said. “She’s doing her very best, she tries to sneak in miles when she can on the days that she doesn’t have club soccer practice. Her and I are constantly talking about where can we put in some miles so that she’s not missing all the stuff like the other girls. To her credit, she has been very dedicated in doing that because she doesn’t want to let the girls down.”
Canyon boys runner Kyle Stevens has embraced his new role and took home first place on the boys’ side beating Granada Hills boys runner Cai Duran by more than two seconds in 15:26.32.
“Kyle has now grown into the No. 1 runner,” Velarde said. “Before it was Freddie. It took Kyle several weeks to feel at ease, to feel comfortable and have that responsibility of being our No. 1 runner and he’s shown it very well.”
The rest of the boys teams was separated by less than 11 seconds as Jayson Velarde followed in ninth place in 16:01.75 and Frank Lofton was behind Velarde in 10th place.
Mason Williams (16:09.10) and Charles Tanglao (16:12.65) finished in 12th and 13th place to round out the Canyon boys runners.
“This boys team is starting to find their new identity,” Velarde said. “When we lost Freddie, just like any team would have reacted, they felt like we lost our No. 1 guy for the season, we are done. I think it took them several weeks to find their groove and now, they are looking good.”
Saugus boys team, ranked No. 15 in the CIF-SS Division 1 rankings, was led by Lucas Bautista’s 14th place finish in 16:15.10.
Teammate Nick Sciole wasn’t far behind in 17th and Joseph Carrillo-Gonzalez finished 27th.
Isaiah Duarte, Alec Ricard, Andrew Estrada recorded 35th, 39th and 41st-place finishes.