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Cross country notes: Los Alamitos girls, boys enjoying strong starts

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The Los Alamitos girls cross country team has experienced a surge this season thanks to a jolt from a talented freshman.

Lauren Velasco has burst into the Griffins’ top five positions with a string of strong efforts.

“She’s a natural talent,” Los Alamitos coach Mark Celestin said. “She’s got great genes. She’s a great kid.”

Velasco’s mother was a runner at UCLA, which is where her father played football.

At the Central Park Invitational on Saturday, Velasco edged into third place by one-hundredth of a second with a time of 18:05.94.

It was different experience for Velasco when she had a 13-second margin for her first-place finish in the Sunset League Preview on Sept. 21.

Velasco was the top O.C. runner at Central Park and paced the Griffins to a first-place finish as a team. Los Alamitos was second at the Sunset League Preview.

“It takes the whole team with her,” Celestin said of Velasco’s performance. “That raises the whole team’s game. It makes us a better team.”

Delaney Sanacore and Bronyson Ledgard finished in sixth and 12th, respectively, at Central Park to help push the Griffins to the top.

CLOSING THE GAP

Celestin has been equally impressed with Los Alamitos' boys team.

“The boys are remarkable,” Celestin said. “They were sixth-place in a six-team league last year. They were out of the race at the one-mile mark.”

At the Sunset League Preview, Los Alamitos finished in second place, just two points behind first-place Newport Harbor.

Celestin cited the team’s improved finishes to its dedication to training.

Celestin noted that junior Jared Berryman has been the team’s leader. Berryman finished fifth at the Sunset League Preview.

Los Alamitos’ true strength has been its team effort. The Griffins'’ top five finished only 14 seconds apart, and Celestin said the team’s average gap has been cut to under 30 seconds.

Los Alamitos also finished second at the Central Park Invitational.

GARCIA LEADING SUNSET PACK

Newport Harbor’s Alexis Garcia continues to be the top runner in the Sunset League.

The sophomore’s Central Park Invitational time of 15:20.96 took down the down the field for first place and brought the Sailors to a fourth-place finish.

Garcia also led Newport Harbor to first place at the Sunset League Preview with his first-place finish.

VALENCIA DOMINATES EMPIRE PREVIEW

Valencia won both sides of the Empire League Preview at Craig Regional Park on Tuesday.

The Tigers’ boys were dominant, running as a pack to take each of the top seven spots and cross the finish line together at the same time. Eighth place was nearly 15 seconds behind Valencia's group.

Western’s Wendi Leos and Montserrat Celis took the top two spots in the girls race.

OTHER PREVIEWS

Bryson Crites (Tesoro), Adrian Vargas (El Toro) and Christian Wehrli (Tesoro) slid into the top three boys spots at the South Coast League Preview on Wednesday, but Dana Hills still took the top team spot with four top-10 placings. The Dolphins also won the girls race with four top-10's despite an individual first-second by Hayley Herberg and Aylssa Bautista of Capistrano Valley.

At Irvine Regional Park for the Sea View League on Tuesday, San Juan Hills took the boys competition with a team win and first-place finish by Jacob Aries.

El Toro took the girls competition with a first-second finish by Hannah Tobin and Ashley Messineo.

Last week, JSerra took the girls top spot and finished second tightly behind St. John Bosco in the boys at the Trinity League Preview. Nadia Tabrizi of JSerra blew away the girls field by 13 seconds for first place.

In the Century Conference, Brea Olinda outpaced the boys field and Canyon took the girls competition. Foothill’s Stuart Kendall and Canyon’s Sara Leonard each won their races by 17-second margins.

The Sage Hill girls and St. Margaret's boys each won In the second Academy League Preview cluster on Tuesday to extend their lead in the league standings

Costa Mesa won the boys Orange Coast League Preview on a tiebreaker over Godinez on Sept. 28. The Mustangs' Elliot Hachac beat the field by nearly 30 seconds for first place. Laguna Beach took the girls win.

Sunny Hills took both sides of the Freeway League Preview in dominant fashion on Sept. 27.


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