Dana Hills' Jack Landgraf, right, nears the finish line during the Dana Hills Invitational Saturday morning.

Landgraf defends Dana Hills Invitational title


DANA POINT – It’s a different face that leads the county’s foremost cross country power these days.

With All-County stalwarts Jake Ogden and Mason Coppi out of the picture at Dana Hills, the burden of leadership has not proved too much for Jack Landgraf.

The junior successfully defended his title with a time of 14:33 at the Dana Hills Invitational on Saturday.

Landgraf came in five seconds behind last year’s winning mark, but it didn’t matter. He had been fielding questions about a possible repeat championship on his home course all week, and it made him “want to win really bad.”

The Dana Hills course is amongst those with the best visibility for the home stretch, with its final 600 meters taking place on the stadium track. Landgraf paced the leading trio, and he was greeted with a warm hometown welcome.

“As soon as I hit that track, I just heard the roar of the crowd,” Landgraf said. “It’s the home course, and it just couldn’t have felt better. I know my friends and family are watching. They gave me that boost.”

Dana Hills Invitational results

Landgraf delivered a strong, extended kick to pull away from San Juan Hills’ Jacob Aries (14:42) and Brea Olinda’s Giovanni Orellana (14:47) on the final lap.

The top-ranked Dolphins won the team title, 66-84, over No. 2 Brea Olinda. John Turner and Brandon Hough also placed in the top 10 for Dana Hills.

Northwood’s Erika Adler had the county’s top showing in the Girls Invitational race, placing third in 17:09. Formerly a cheerleader, the Timberwolves senior is competing in cross country for the first time in her career. Three races into the season, Adler has improved upon her personal best time in each.

Led by Sara Leonard’s (17:19) fifth-place finish, Canyon defeated Trabuco Hills, 74-111, for the Girls Invitational crown. A team-wide illness hit the Comanches before the Woodbridge Invitational last week, but they showed what they can do when healthy.

“It was pretty crazy,” Leonard said of the bug. “I think that the whole varsity girls team got sick. I think that most people are recovering now.”

Capistrano Valley, the county’s top-ranked girls team, chose to run within its respective grade-level races instead of competing in the Invitational heat. Haley Herberg posted the county’s fastest time of the day, winning the Division 1 junior race in 17:05.

“We’ve never done the Invitational,” Herberg said. “We just went with the tradition, and luckily, we had a pretty good time. We’re happy with our decision.”

Teammate Alyssa Bautista placed second in 17:16. She said that staying healthy through the early part of the year has helped her clear some mental hurdles after an ankle injury plagued her in 2015.

Aliso Niguel turned out two grade-level winners in Jaryd Dukes and Ben McKenna.

On the girls side, Lauren Soto (Dana Hills), Mia Matsunami (Newport Harbor), Lucina Vincent (El Dorado), and Aleks Crampton (Northwood) also won their races.

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