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FILE: PAUL RODRIGUEZ , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Valencia's Jesus Moreno is one of the top returning runners in the county. He won last year's Empire League Finals with a 20-second advantage.

Boys cross country preview: Top runners to watch

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

OCVarsity’s list of the top boys runners to watch this season:

TOP BOYS RUNNERS TO WATCH

Brandon Hough, Dana Hills, Sr.: Hough was a top-10 performer in last year’s Orange County Championships. He produced a top-15 showing in the CIF-SS Division 1 Finals in a race that included eventual national champion Great Oak of Temecula.

Jack Landgraf, Dana Hills, Jr.: The Dolphins are the top-ranked team in CIF-SS Division 1. He is targeting a victory in the Division 1 state race. Landgraf was 10th in the race last year. That ranks second among returners, behind only Davis’ Michael Vernau.

Jesus Moreno, Valencia, Sr.: Valencia emerged as a team on the rise last year. The Tigers have come of age, including Moreno, who smoked the field in the Empire League Finals by a whopping 20 seconds.

Giovanni Orellana, Brea Olinda, Sr.: Orellana was a big factor in Brea’s postseason races, and he will be looking to improve with Austin Tamagno having moved on to college (Oregon). He was seventh in the CIF-SS Division 3 Finals and 12th at the state meet.

Jacob Smith, Pacifica, Sr.: If there is one individual who can challenge Valencia’s stacked lineup for the Empire League crown, it’s Smith. He won the league’s midseason cluster meet and grade-level races at the Wayne Walker and Pat Hadley Invites as a junior.

Ryuya Souther, Woodbridge, Sr.: Souther swept the Pacific Coast League races last year. He continued to turn in strong efforts during the track season, taking the league’s 3,200-meters title. Corona del Mar’s Leif Hellgren could prove to be his biggest threat at repeating.

Jorge Suarez, Santa Ana, Sr.: Santa Ana missed qualifying for the CIF-SS Division 1 Finals last year, but Suarez’s season continued right through to the end. He advanced to the state meet as an individual. The All-County senior is the reigning Golden West League champion.

Dalton Tanner, Canyon, Sr.: Canyon needs someone to fill the void left by the departure of two All-County performers, Dylan Scarsone and Chance Lamberth. Look for Tanner to be that guy. He was fourth in the Crestview League Finals and has sub-15-minute time capabilities.

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