By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The West Ranch Wildcats and Saugus Centurions competed at the CIF preliminaries that began on Friday, and both teams finished with strong enough times to compete in the CIF finals starting Saturday.
The Wildcats are coming off winning the Foothill League title and look to continue their momentum heading into the finals. Despite the very hot and horrible conditions, Wildcats’ head coach Maria LaRoe saw her team fight through and finish strong.
“They did really well,” said LaRoe. “They’re still riding high from being the league champs. We’re going into Saturday feeling confident. Every season our goal is to take it as far as possible and I know what they are capable of. It was just another stepping stone on our path to what we’re hoping to achieve.”
The Wildcats finished third in the Division 2 No. 1 heat with a time of 1:42:07. Only the top five teams qualified for the CIF finals and the Wildcats were five minutes ahead of fourth place. Hayden Washington led the team, finishing fourth overall with a time of 18:42.4. Alison Orwin finished 16th overall with a time of 20:40.0 and Caroline Dolce finished right behind at the 17th spot with a time of 20:40.3.
The Centurions also found their fair share of success this season by finishing second in the Foothill League standings. The Centurions would finish the preliminaries with a CIF finals qualifying time of 1:42:07, good enough for third overall, in the girls Division 1 No. 4 heat, which marks their 17th straight season of competing in the CIF finals.
“It’s a big accomplishment with what the team has gone through this season,” said Centurions’ head coach Kevin Berns. “We approached the race like any other Saugus team has done in the past. We went out conservatively and made our moves on the hills. It’s going to be a tough chore to get to state. We’re going to do everything we can to prep our team for the finals.”
The Centurions were led by Isabella Duarte, who led all runners in the entire heat with a time of 18:30.08, 27 seconds faster than the second-place runner. Miranda Velasco finished 10th overall with a time of 19:45.4 and Shelby Ortega-Hufana finished 25th overall with a time of 21:00.08.
The CIF finals are scheduled to take place on Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College with times determined based on which heat the teams will be competing in. Both teams will have to finish in the top seven out of the 16 qualified teams in order to compete at the state finals.