Girls’ cross-country season wrap-up: West Ranch leads Foothill League

Bella Duarte of Saugus, left, Lexi Fernandez, of West Ranch, center, and Hayden Washington of West Ranch come off the first loop during the girls cross Country race. Duarte, Fernandez and Washington finished first, second, third respectively at Central Park in Saugus on Saturday, 103021. Dan Watson/The Signal

By Ryan Menzie 

Signal Sports Writer  

The Foothill League girls’ cross-country season came to an end with athletes having competed all the way into the state finals despite their teams not being able to follow the individuals.  

Leading the league were the Foothill League champion West Ranch Wildcats, who finished the season with an average team time of 19:06:82 and scored 39 points, 33 points ahead of second place.  

“Our season went really well,” said Wildcats head coach Maria LaRoe. “It was really my first season as head coach so having a season so successful shows what a great team I was able to work with. We had some great girls and great athletes on the team. I was so proud of them and they made it very easy my first season out to coach and I’m honored to be able to guide them along the successful journey they had.” 

The Wildcats were led by their seniors, Alexis Fernandez and Hayden Washington, who each made the All-League team in two of the top three spots. In their Foothill League finals race, Fernandez ran a time of 18:03:91, good enough for second overall, with Washington finishing right behind with a time of 18:19:81.  

Despite not making it to the state finals as a team, Washington would go on to compete in the state finals as an individual, where she ran in Division 2 and finished 18th overall with a time of 18:24:3.  

“Out of 10, I would rate this season over a 10 because of how much I loved my final season,” said Washington. “My goal was to try to maintain and get better throughout the season, and I think I did that. The focus now for myself is to set a personal record for the mile in track and then continue my athletic career at the college level.” 

The Saugus Centurions followed the Wildcats, finishing second in the Foothill League standings, enough to qualify their team in the CIF finals meet, but were unable to advance to the CIF finals as a team. The Centurions averaged a time of 19:50:08 throughout the season and scored 72 points.  

“We were always looking to improve,” said Centurions’ head coach Kevin Berns. “Regardless of what we do from one season to the next it’s all about improving. The bottom line is building a strong base. We have track coming up and we got a chip on our shoulder.” 

The Centurions were led by Bella Duarte, who finished as the No. 1 runner for the All-League team.  

Bella Duarte of Saugus takes first place at Central Park in Saugus on Saturday, 103021. Dan Watson/The Signal

Like the Wildcats, the Centurions would also not qualify for the state finals but had Duarte compete as an individual. Duarte finished fourth overall in the Division 1 race with a time of 17:34:9, which was just under five seconds behind third place and marked the third fastest time all time in Foothill League history.  

“For the team and everything we’ve been through, I think we did amazing and performed to the best of our ability,” said Centurions senior captain Shelby Ortega. “I’m proud of (Duarte) for making the All-League team with all the hard work she put in to get there. We’re starting the track season now so people should look out for us. We’re excited to be able to compete against everyone.” 

The Canyon Cowboys finished third overall with an average team time of 20:30:86 and scored 84 points on the season. They were led by their All-League sophomore runner Cynthia Herrera. Herrera averaged a time of 18:59:69 throughout the season.  

Following the Cowboys were the Golden Valley Grizzlies with an average team time of 20:42:95 and scoring 89 points. The Grizzlies were led by their All-League sophomore Arden Keeton, who ran an average of 18:33:59.  

The Valencia Vikings finished fifth overall with 104 points, running an average time of 21:02:38. The Vikings were led by their All-League junior Kamryn Grossman, who averaged a time of 18:53:02.  

The Castaic Coyotes finished sixth in the league standings with a team time average of 21:35:45. The Coyotes were led by their sophomore All-League runner Kassidy Vargas, who averaged 19:05:09 on the season.  

Despite the Coyotes finishing in sixth place, Vargas would also compete in the state finals as an individual and finished 30th overall in the Division 4 race with a time of 19:04:7.  

Rounding out the Foothill League, the Hart Indians finished seventh with an average time of 22:58:93. The Indians did not have any runners make the All-League team.  

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