Saugus and West Ranch returned home after hard-fought races at the cross country state meet in Fresno on Nov. 26.
The Centurion boys had the day’s best team finish of the local teams, reaching 10th overall in Division 2 with a score of 314.
Jacob Fredericks led Saugus one last time with a 28th-place, 15:47.3 finish. Fredericks battled until the end in one of the earliest bigger packs to finish the race. Seven racers finished within two seconds of the top Centurion.
No one was catching Newbury Park’s runners, who had five runners finish in the top 11.
Dion Gavin would finish at the 16:20.2 mark, ahead of fellow Centurion runners Andres Salinas and Canham, who all finished in the top 101.
Saugus was plagued with illness heading into the state meet. Three starters getting sick changed expectations for the team’s finish.
“With some of the seniors sick, it was inspirational to see three of our sophomores go out and compete with some of the best teams in the state,” said Saugus head coach Sergey Sushchikh.
Sushchikh thought his team would land somewhere around 15th overall but was ecstatic to see his guys reach the top 10.
“Overall we had an incredible season,” said Sushchikh. “Our goals were to win league and qualify for the state meet and we did just that. With six seniors on the travel squad for the majority of the season we knew this had to be the year to set big goals.”
The West Ranch boys would finish in 13th in Division 3. Cal Poly-commit Bille Issa led the Wildcats with a 16:13.6 finish in 30th place.
West Ranch’s Nicholas Raigosa followed and crossed the finish line at 16:57.3, just ahead of teammate John Potter’s finish at 17:00.8.
“I’m extremely proud of all my athletes,” Cats head coach Gerry Perez said. “The entire team was committed since the beginning of the season. They worked so hard and it definitely paid off, getting them a ticket to state.”
Needless to say, Perez’s first year as head coach was a success for West Ranch. The coach was impressed by his team’s talent and hard work. Issa would prove himself to Perez as not only a standout athlete but also a leader among the Wildcats.
“Early in our competition season he proved he was one of the top athletes in California, and in my opinion the No. 1 athlete in our league,” said Perez. “Unfortunately, due to health-related issues, he had a big setback toward the end of the season and was not able to be crowned as the league champion.”
Hart’s Paul Mangione would race as an individual and finish his season strong with a 16:12.4 mark in his final race for the Indians.