Santa Clarita Valley girls compete in cross-country state finals meet

Bella Duarte makes her way to the finish line at the state finals meet at Woodward Park, Clovis. Courtesy of John Ahart

By Ryan Menzie 

Signal Sports Writer  

Despite the Saugus Centurions, West Ranch Wildcats and Castaic Coyotes being unable to compete in the state team meet, both schools were represented by their top individual runners on Saturday at the state finals meet at Woodward Park, in Clovis.  

The Centurions’ Bella Duarte and the Wildcats’ Hayden Washington qualified and competed one last time in the meet with both girls showing why they are among the fastest runners in the Foothill League and in the state. 

Duarte finished fourth overall in the Division 1 race with a time of 17:34.9, just under five seconds behind third place and 27 seconds behind first place. Duarte’s time marks the third fastest time all time in Foothill League history.  

“Bella ran a smart race,” said Centurions’ head coach Kevin Berns. “She put herself in a good position getting off the starting line and setting herself up in the first mile. As the race progressed, she started picking off girls in front of her. She worked hard all season so I’m very happy with her progress. She’s gone through a lot with this program and I’m hopeful she will pick a college she wants to run at in the coming months.” 

Washington ran in the Division 2 race and finished 18th overall with a time of 18:24.3. Wildcats head coach Maria LaRoe knows Washinton’s accomplishments are still monumental with her being the 18th fastest girl in Division 2 at this stage in California.  

“I know she was very excited to be out there,” said LaRoe. “It was long awaited. She wanted to leave it all out there after leading her team all season long. I can’t emphasize enough that she ran her little heart out there on the course and all season long. She really finished her high school cross-country career on an excellent note and I couldn’t be prouder of her.” 

Washington felt good and strong out in the meet and plans to run somewhere in college after her successful high school career.  

“I wanted to end the season with a good time and place,” said Washington. “I knew that it was going to be difficult because of the competition. I just want to say I’m proud of my teammates for doing the best that they could finishing off the season really great. This was my last high school cross-country season and I think it went really well.” 

Last but not least, Kassidy Vargas represented the Coyotes with a time of 19:04.7, good enough for 30th overall in the Division 4 race. Vargas, a sophomore, will look to improve her time in her young career in hopes of propelling her team to the state meet along with herself next season.

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