By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Santa Clarita Valley high school cross country teams competed Friday in the Cool Breeze Invitational, which invited more than 50 schools across the state to compete in their first real competition since the 2019 season.
The event was broken up with division one and two schools competing against one another and division three, four and five schools competing in the second bracket. All levels including freshman, JV and varsity competed in these events. The Santa Clarita schools competed in the division one and two brackets.
Once all competition was done, the Sundown Showdown began with all varsity level teams competing in one final event, regardless of division and based on qualifying from the preliminary round. For the girls, the West Ranch Wildcats placed eighth in the competition, the highest of any of the Santa Clarita schools for girls, scoring 282 points with a team time of 1:33:07, a runner average of 18:38 and a mile average of 6:13, according to Finished Results.
Points are based on the top five runners per school out of up to 10 runners (if a runner finishes third overall, the team is awarded three points). The team with the lowest points at the end of the competition wins.
“I think it was a really good early experience for the kids,” said Wildcats head coach Jonathan Choi. “We were happy to be there and finally having a meet. We’re excited and we’re using this as a tool for motivation to keep going. We’ve had a lot of preparation so we just gotta keep working hard and prepare again for the next one.”
The Saugus Centurions were right behind the Wildcats in the girls’ competition, finishing ninth with 297 points and a team time of 1:35:58, runner average of 18:36 and average mile time of 6:12. The Centurions were the second and final team to qualify and place in the Sundown Showdown for the girls from the Foothill League.
For the boys, the Hart Indians finished second in the Sundown Showdown with 99 points, 33 points behind first-place Great Oak High School, with a team time of 1:16:10, runner average of 15:14 and mile average of 5:05.
“We have a strong room of boys who have worked very hard for the past couple months,” said Hart coach Darren James. “We just need to continue building on our confidence. We’re not used to being a team operating at this level. Every race will give us good experience heading into CIF and we’ll be a much more seasoned team.”
The Valencia Vikings finished 13th with 381 points with a team time of 1:20:25, runner average of 16:05 and mile average of 5:22. The Saugus Centurions finished 15th with 399 points with a team time of 1:21:01, runner average of 16:13 and mile average of 5:25. The Wildcats finished right behind with 406 points with a team time of 1:20:41, runner average of 16:09 and mile average of 5:23, rounding out the qualifying teams from the Foothill League.
The schools’ next chance at competition is schedule to be Saturday, Sept. 18, for the Woodbridge Invitational at the Silver Lake Sports Complex in Norco.