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BILL ALKOFER , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Brea Olinda's Austin Tamagno set an Orange County record in the mile at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 8 at at Cerritos College. Tamagno finished in 4 minutes, 3.21 seconds. One of the runners he beat was San Clemente's Connor Dunne, who held the county record of 4:04.59.

Fryer: All-time great votes for Tamagno as best miler ever

STAFF COLUMNIST

Austin Tamagno had just set the Orange County record in the mile last week when he heard people compare him to the county’s great distance runners of the past.

“To be listed with those names, it’s pretty amazing,” the Brea Olinda senior said.

One of those “names” puts Tamagno at the top of the county’s all-time list.

Ralph Serna is in the discussion for greatest distance runner in Orange County boys track and field history. A national star at Loara in the mid-1970s, Serna’s converted time of 8:42.9 in the 3,200 meters is second-best in county history. His 4:05.6 in the 1,600 is the seventh-fastest time in county history. (It was a 4:07.0 mile he ran that day in ’75.)

Serna, a pretty good Orange County track and field historian, has marveled at Tamagno’s accomplishments since Tamagno set the national freshman record in the 1,600, with a time of 4:11.0, at the Orange County Championships in 2013, then broke his own record a few weeks later with a 4:09.43 in the CIF State meet.

Tamagno, who signed with Oregon, set the county record in the mile with a 4:03.21 last week at the Mt. SAC Relays.

“Through what he’s done in his four-year high school career,” Serna said, “Tamagno has to be the best miler in Orange County history.”

That’s also the best-in-the-nation time in the mile this year. The guy who previously had the national best time: San Clemente’s Connor Dunne. That’s quite a rivalry, and it should be a fun one to watch the rest of this season.

Serna’s rival was Eric Hulst of Laguna Beach. They squared off in some memorable cross country and track races. Hulst and Serna are 1-2 in the county record books for the 3,200, with Hulst’s converted 8:41.6 in ’76 a shade better than Serna’s 8:42.9 in ’75.

So while he says Tamagno is best miler in county history, Serna is reluctant to label Tamagno the best distance runner in county history.

“Eric has a bit of an edge because of his range,” said Serna, referring to Hulst’s accomplishments in the longer races and even in the steeplechase. Hulst, who died of brain cancer in 1992 at age 34, is the county record-holder in the rare event at 9:19.2; of course, Serna is No. 2 at 9:24.2.

Serna predicts Tamagno would surpass Hulst in longer distances if Tamagno made a strong effort.

“I’d love to see what Austin could do in the right race, in the 3,200 or the two-mile,” Serna said. “I think he could break Eric’s record. He has that ability.”

Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

• The Orange County Championships are Saturday at Mission Viejo High. It begins with field events at 8:30 a.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and for students without valid student identification, $3 students with valid student ID, and $2 for children 9 and younger. Parking is free.

• One of the bigger swimming meets of the season is the Foothill Swim Games, which began Thursday, continue Friday and conclude Saturday.

• The Orange County North-South All-Star Basketball games are Saturday at Cypress College. The girls game starts at 5 p.m. followed by the boys at approximately 7. The Orange Coast Optimist Club is the organizer and manager of the games.

• Mission Viejo receiver Austin Osborne this week received football scholarship offers from Michigan and Washington. More offers are sure to come for the 6-foot-3, 185-pound sophomore.

• Michigan also offered Mission Viejo sophomore defensive back Olaijah Griffin, who also was an outstanding receiver for the Diablos in 2015.

• San Clemente quarterback Jack Sears, who will be a senior next season, this week added offers from UCLA and Texas A&M to his large list. Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has informed the Tritons coaching staff that he will make a visit within the next two weeks.

• Corona del Mar quarterback Chase Garbers received an offer this week from Cal. He will make an unofficial visit to the Berkeley campus this weekend. Mater Dei freshman Bru McCoy was offered by Notre Dame. Labeled an “athlete” as his position of destiny remains to be decided, McCoy is 6-3, 185.

• Crean Lutheran will name its next varsity football coach within the next few days, school athletic director Eric Olson said Thursday. Crean is the only county school with a football head coaching vacancy.

Joe Hernandez, a quarterback who will be a senior this fall, transferred to La Habra from St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs. Hernadez (6-foot, 180) did not throw much last year, averaging 72 passing yards a game.

Tia Meza has been promoted to athletic director at Mater Dei. Meza, a Gatorade national softball player of the year when she was Tia Bollinger at Mater Dei, has been the school’s director of admission, marketing and media relations and softball coach. As athletic director she replaces Phil Bellomo, who becomes Mater Dei’s director of facility and venue management.

• Going into this week, Woodbridge’s baseball team had a team ERA of 1.63 overall and 0.76 in the Pacific Coast League.

• The Orange County All-Star Baseball Game is June 7 at La Palma Park in Anaheim. Greg Pines of Rancho Alamitos is the North coach and Fountain Valley’s Deric Yanagisawa will coach the South. The game, in its 49th year, is organized and managed by the Greater Anaheim Kiwanis Club.

• If you’re going to La Palma Park for a baseball or football game, don’t park in the residential neighborhood on the south side of La Palma Ave. Street parking in that neighborhood now is “permit only all day.”

• San Clememente senior Tyler Meisinger, a two-time CIF-Southern Section wrestling champion, has selected Michigan as his college destination.

• Edison football’s golf tournament is June 27 at SeaCliff Country Club. Go to edisonchargerfootball.com to register and for other information.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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