The Foothill League cross-country season came to a close as runners made a final push to improve their standings and qualify for the postseason at Central Park on Saturday.
In a repeat of last year’s league finals, the Saugus girls team and the West Ranch boys team won the league titles with 16 and 46 total points, respectively.
The Canyon girls team was the runner-up with 71 points, while the Saugus boys team was edged out by the Wildcats with 50 total points.
“What we put in the water over at Saugus is hard work,” said Saugus head coach Kevin Berns about the girls teams dominance. “And building upon the legacy from the previous teams, that’s what it’s really about.”
West Ranch senior boys runner Hunter Romine led the entire field with a time of 15 minutes, 34.05 seconds to be crowned the league champ after finishing the first league meet as the runner-up behind Nick Serrano.
Romine’s teammate, junior Dylan Gatua, finished a little over six seconds after as the runner-up in 15:40.22. Saugus’ Blake Gallardo rounded at the top three boys runners in 15:51.90.
Hart boys runner junior Joseph Ahart improved his time from the first league meet by almost a full-six seconds in 15:57.57 to pace the Indians to a third-place finish with 57 total points.
Sophomore Jaden Wiley finished sixth in 16:05.11 and junior Jason Lucero was ninth in 16:11.22 for Hart.
Canyon’s Kyle Stevens had the highest finish on the boys’ side finishing in fourth place in 15:54.23 and Frank Lofton finished eight in 16:11.22.
Valencia’s Andrew Armitage and Golden Valley’s Grant Doughtery finished in 16th and 31st place.
All six of the top Saugus girls runners improved their finishes from the first league meet and finished inside the top six as junior Hannah Fredericks won the league title in 17:55.22, besting her finish by almost nine seconds to earn first place in the meet.
Joining Fredericks on the podium were teammates Isabella Duarte, a sophomore, and Hailey Rutter, a senior. Duarte joined the two upperclassmen in the varsity race after placing first in the frosh/soph race in the first league meet and surpassed her time of 19:40.00 to finish in 18:05.10.
Rutter finished third in 18:11.81, improving her time by 13 seconds and Danielle Salcedo was fourth eclipsing her time by 30 seconds to finish in 18:12.50.
Ronnie Jones and Kaela Berretta finished sixth and ninth as the former finished in 18:32.24 and the later in 19:07.27.
Saugus heads into postseason play ranked as the No. 2 girls team in CIF-Southern Section Division 1.
“This time of year, we are actually looking to get better because their focus is really on the postseason and we take it, really, one meet at a time,” Berns said. “We were at Mt. SAC last week, we saw that we needed to improve our one to five gap and we challenged and motivated the girls.”
Valencia’s Hailey Kirsch finished fifth in 18:21.59 after suffering an apparent injury in the first meet that didn’t allow her to finish the race.
Wildcats’ Abigail Welch had the best finish for the West Ranch girls team, coming in seventh place in 18:38.06. The Wildcats stay put at No. 12 in the CIF-SS Division 1 ranking heading into the postseason.
Canyon’s Angelee Berganio and Kayla Young rounded out the top 10 girls varsity runners in eighth and 10th place.
Golden Valley’s Joellen Bragasin finished 17th and Hart’s Kaitlyn Rivadeneira finished 23rd.
CIF-SS prelims get underway Friday, Nov. 15 at Riverside Cross-Country Course in Riverside with the Division 1 and 3 prelims beginning at 9 a.m. Division 2, 4 and 5 prelims start at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16. CIF-SS finals will be held the following Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7:45 am.