Saugus and West Ranch girls’ cross-country compete at the CIF finals

The Saugus girls cross-country poses after their CIF finals meet. Bella Duarte (1339) goes onto the CIF state individuals meet. Courtesy of Kevin Berns

By Ryan Menzie 

Signal Sports Writer  

The West Ranch Wildcats and the Saugus Centurions both had their team seasons come to an end after competing in the CIF finals on Saturday with both teams unable to place for the state finals.  

Despite not placing, both teams had a season to remember as they competed one last time in the CIF finals and have girls from both teams continuing their season in the CIF state individuals.  

The Saugus Centurions finished ninth overall with a team time of 1:36:13 in the Division 1 race. The Centurions needed to finish in the top seven overall in order to advance to the CIF state meet.  

“I couldn’t have been prouder of this group of girls,” said Centurions’ head coach Kevin Berns. “Everything that we have persevered through speaks its own volumes. We had a really solid younger squad that came up for us during the CIF. For them to be predicted to finish 14th overall but ending up finishing ninth overall is pretty darn good.” 

The Centurions were led by Isabella Duarte, who finished second overall with a time of 17:17.3, which was 27 seconds behind the first overall runner and the fourth fastest time in school history. Despite her team not making the state meet, Duarte will continue her season with one final race thanks to her top 20 finish.  

Miranda Velasco finished 23rd overall with a time of 18:46.2. Natalie Barton finished 69th overall with a time of 19:49.0 and captain Shelby Ortega-Hufana finished 72nd overall with a time of 19:50.09.  

“I was proud of myself and all the girls because we’ve been working so hard to get to this moment,” said Ortega-Hufana. “It was really about having no pressure. We learned so much this year and it’s really taught us the value of cross-country lessons. I want to thank my team for helping create some of the best memories I could have ever asked for. I could not have asked for a better team.”  

The Wildcats finished tied for 10th place in the Division 2 race with a team time of 1:38:43. The Wildcats were unable to qualify for a top seven spot so their team season has also come to an end.  

“I was very proud of my girls,” said Wildcats’ head coach Maria LaRoe. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do so there isn’t much more you can ask for as a coach. They fought hard and ran well on a very competitive field. We were very happy to finish in the top 10 for Division 2.” 

West Ranch cross-country athlete Hayden Washington races through the track at the CIF finals meet. Courtesy of Maria LaRoe

The Wildcats were led by Hayden Washington, who finished 13th overall with a time of 18:24.0. Washington’s finish in the top 20 qualifies her to compete in the individual state meet to keep her season going for her final season.  

“It’s honestly an amazing feeling,” said Washington. “I’m sad I won’t get to be with my team but it definitely is an emotional moment. I just think that me and my team tried our hardest out there. We had great competition and tried to put our best foot forward and did the best considering the circumstances. We had been working very hard coming into the final meet.” 

Alison Orwin finished 49th overall with a time of 19:33.3. Shefali Breitbach finished 52nd overall with a time of 19:37.7 and Brooklynn Browning finished 83rd overall with a time of 20:25.6.  

The CIF State meet is scheduled for Saturday at Woodward Park, Clovis. Times are still waiting to be determined based on school divisions.  

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