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El Toro's Tobin, Foothill's Kendall enjoy night in Woodbridge spotlight
NORCO – Cross country runners have long looked at the Woodbridge Invitational as an opportunity to set personal records.
With a new location, however, word of mouth began to spread from teammates and coaches earlier in the day that the course was running at a slower clip.
Don’t tell that to the runners of Saturday’s night session. Although they did not come from the usual suspects, the fast times did arrive late.
A pair of county runners used the Silverlakes Sports Complex course as the stage for their coming-out party in the 36th running of the Woodbridge Invitational.
El Toro’s Hannah Tobin got the magic started in the first featured race of the night. The senior took second place in the girls rated race in 17:02.
“Some of my friends told me that the course was slow and just race to compete,” Tobin said. “I wasn’t expecting a fast time, but I am so happy that I got it.”
Tobin shattered the El Toro school record by 17 seconds. She was mobbed by her teammates following her interviews.
A strong track season in which she earned a trip to the Brooks PR postseason meet in the two-mile run put the Chargers star on the map. It appears that success is carrying over to cross country.
“I think that it is helping me more than it was hurting me,” Tobin said of her extended, breakout track campaign last spring. “That’s very good news. It’s boosting my confidence for these next races.”
Capistrano Valley’s Haley Herberg topped all county girls with a time of 16:45, good for seventh in the Bob Day’s Girls Sweepstakes.
Foothill’s Stuart Kendall did one better than Tobin in the boys rated race, winning it in 14:36.
“That would never have been (in) my farthest imagination,” Kendall said of his time. “I expected to PR, but nothing crazy like that. I’m extremely happy with it.”
The junior also claimed victory at the Laguna Hills Invite the week before, a promising start after an ankle injury kept him out for the latter part of last year.
With Crestview League rivals Brea Olinda (9th, 266 points) and Canyon (19th, 410 points) competing in the Doug Speck’s Boys Sweepstakes, it’s impressive that Kendall posted the county’s second fastest time of the meet. The top mark belonged to Pacifica’s Jacob Smith (14:35).
Valencia (20th, 425 points), an up-and-coming program, got a long-awaited look at sweepstakes-level competition. The Tigers core has risen together and is ready to take its shot.
“We’ve been working for this for the three years that we’ve been here,” junior Ethan Frisone said. “We kept improving every year, kept flying under the radar, and to finally get some recognition and run with the big dogs is just an awesome opportunity and learning experience.”
The meet’s famed “under-the-lights” experience continues to amaze many, including Katella’s Abraham Gonzalez, who won his varsity gold division race in 15:00.
"There’s more enthusiasm,” he said. “People are pumped, saying your name. It’s great.”