Brea Olinda's Austin Tamagno will try to repeat as the individual champion in CIF-SS Division 3.

Brea's Tamagno focused on CIF-SS team title


Brea Olinda’s Austin Tamagno has already done enough to be considered one of Orange County’s all-time great distance runners.

But the senior, who recently committed to Oregon, isn’t content with what he’s done. He’s looking for more.

Tamagno is undefeated this season as he heads into the CIF-SS Cross Country finals Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.

He will try to defend the titles – individual and team – he won last year in Division 3, and then ride that momentum into state and national events in the coming weeks.

While the individual accolades are enticing, Tamagno said his focus is on what he can help his team accomplish. He saw encouraging signs at the CIF-SS Preliminaries, where Gio Orellana, Joe Tobin and Kevin McNulty all finished in the top 10.

“We need those three guys up there front-running if our team wants to win state,” Tamagno said. “John Dempsey had a really good race (on Saturday), so our young guys are really stepping up.”

As a junior, Tamagno set the Mt. SAC course record (14:23).

County No. 1 Dana Hills might have the best boys team in its history, but it will be up against seemingly untouchable Great Oak of Temecula. The adversaries have held the top two spots in the Division 1 rankings all year.

While Dolphins coach Tim Butler has prepared his team all season to peak in the postseason, the Mt. SAC Invitational gave a look at today’s anticipated matchup. The Wolfpack toppled Dana Hills, 31-63, in that October meet.

Dana Hills set a school record with a team time of 75:58 at the Invitational. Beating that record is one of two goals Butler has set for his group.

“We’re trying to break our school record again, plus, we’re trying to keep that gap distance between our one and our five man as close as possible,” Butler said. “I think if we can accomplish either one or both of those goals, second will be definitely doable.

“I just don’t know yet how beatable Great Oak is going to be.”

Mason Coppi, Jake Ogden and Jack Landgraf lead the Dolphins, with solid and interchangeable options filling out the lineup.

Other individual title hopefuls from the county include Utah commit Amanda Gehrich (Tesoro) and Cal signee Andrew Burkhardt (JSerra).

Gehrich, who is pursuing her first CIF-SS Division 2 title, was the runner-up at the state meet last year.

There is expected to be a battle between Burkhardt and Bishop Amat’s Robbie Santoyo. They both led wire-to-wire in their heats at the CIF Prelims. They were the only two runners to go under 15 minutes in their division.

“It’s always nice to have him in Division 4,” Burkhardt said of Santoyo. “Sometimes, in the smaller school races, there aren’t as many competitive guys out there. It’s fun to win, but you want to be competing and have someone make you work for it.”

Esperanza’s girls are in the championship conversation in Division 3. The Aztecs are second in the Southern Section behind Palos Verdes, which edged Esperanza, 94-102, at the Mt. SAC Invite.

Esperanza has juniors Shannon Mac Kellar and Sapna Dholakia at the top, but it will be up to the bottom of the lineup to close the gap.

After missing the qualifying meet because of strep throat, Canyon No. 3 Dalton Tanner will run in the Division 2 race. Coach Joe Wiley said the junior, who is still taking medication for illness, made the decision to compete today.

The Comanches are ranked third in their division behind West Torrance and Loyola of Los Angeles.

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