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PAUL RODRIGUEZ , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Amanda Gehrich of Tesoro crosses the finish line to easily win the girls sweepstakes race at the Orange County Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Irvine Regional Park.

Trabuco Hills girls pull together to win Orange County Championships

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

ORANGE – Trabuco Hills’ girls cross country team is a strong believer in the mantra, “Together we conquer, divided we fall.”

The Mustangs have embraced the pack running style throughout the season, and it was effective Saturday in the 49th running of the Orange County Cross Country Championships.

Makenna Duda and Chloe Schmitz garnered top-15 finishes to lead Trabuco Hills over Dana Hills, 100-122, in a rousing girls sweepstakes race at Irvine Regional Park.

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BOYS & GIRLS RESULTS

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Capistrano Valley (152 points), Mission Viejo (154 points), and Canyon (156 points) rounded out the top five, demonstrating the small gap between the competitors. The Mustangs liked their chances with the winning point total expected to be high, especially if they could get multiple runners in the top 15.

That’s what Trabuco Hills got when Schmitz, an oft-injured dark horse, broke into the team’s scoring five.

“I’m really excited that I was able to pull through,” Schmitz said. “I’ve been going through some little injuries (foot) here and there recently.

“I felt really good this race, and I’m so happy we won.”

Mustangs coach Liam Clemons said that Schmitz’s performance gave the team a jolt of confidence.

“She’s dealt with injuries since last year,” Clemons said of Schmitz. “She shows us every once in a while what she can do.

“To have her run like she’s done was awesome. It sparked everybody.”

Trinidee Stewart (22nd), Rebecca Stillman (28th), and Natalie Regalado (30th) were the others to score for the Mustangs.

After back-to-back years as the county runner-up to South Coast League rival Capistrano Valley, Trabuco Hills’ girls won their first county title since 2011 (first under Clemons) by pushing the pace.

“We wanted to see if we could win by running from the front more,” Clemons said. “Our girls went out faster today than they ever have, and for the most part, they held on pretty well.”

Building off her superb track season, Tesoro senior Amanda Gehrich looked sharp in posting a winning time of 16:54. Gehrich became the seventh girl to run a sub-17-minute time on the Irvine Regional Park course.

“I feel really happy,” Gehrich said following the individual win. “I really wanted to break 17 (minutes). That was my main goal.

“Coming out today, I felt really good and strong.”

Capistrano Valley’s Ashley Licata (17:21) finished second and Segerstrom’s Stefanie Ortega (17:23) was third.


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