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KEN STEINHARDT, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Dana Hills senior Jake Ogden could help lead the Dolphins to a record-setting seventh team title at the Orange County Championships on Saturday.

Fryer: Dana Hills boys capable of historic run

STAFF COLUMNIST

Dana Hills’ depth could take the Dolphins to the top.

Their boys cross country team would set the record for most Orange County Championships boys team championships with a victory Saturday in the event at Irvine Regional Park.

Dana Hills has six boys titles, as does Costa Mesa.

“This would be lucky No. 7,” said Dana Hills coach Tim Butler.

He knows he’s lucky to have this group of runners.

The Dolphins have a couple of them who enjoyed much success last season.

Jake Ogden, a senior, finished third in the CIF State Division 1 meet in 2014. Another senior, Mason Coppi, finished second at last year’s O.C. Championships and was 13th in CIF State Division 1 meet. And another senior, Colin Stein, was 34th in that state meet.

Jack Landgraf was the fastest freshman in California last season. At the Dana Hills Invitational three weeks ago, Landgraf won the boys sweepstakes race.

Something more important to the Dana Hills team happened in that meet: five Dolphins finished the course at under 15 minutes.

In cross country, team points are accumulated via how the team’s five fastest individuals finished. For example, if a team’s top five runners finish 3rd, 8th, 15th, 24th and 27th, that would give the team 77 points. The lowest team score wins the team championship.

Butler is jazzed that this year’s team has reduced its gap between fastest runner to slowest to 30 seconds during offseason training.

“Three boys really stepped up,” said Butler, in his 43rd season coaching Dana Hills cross country. “It’s incredible, the commitment they’ve made and how courageous they’ve been running against other people.”

Those three runners are juniors Brandon Hough and Thomas Wilfert, and senior Stein. Butler also raved about the improvement of junior John Turner. Senior Matt Konopka is another key contributor.

On Saturday, Dana Hills’ chief competition likely will be Brea Olinda. Dana Hills is No. 1 and Brea is No. 2 in the Orange County top 10. In CIF Southern Section rankings, Dana Hills is No. 2 in Division 1, behind defending state Division 1 champion Great Oak of Temecula, and Brea is No. 1 in Division 3.

Brea has Austin Tamagno. A senior, Tamagno was a section and state champion last season, and he set the course record at Mt. SAC. His time of 14:23 broke a course record that was 65 years old. When he graduates this coming spring, Tamagno will be included among the likes of Eric Hulst and Ralph Serna as one of the all-time greats in county distance-running history.

“Brea has the front-runner,” Butler said. “But you don’t win team championships with one guy.”

Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

• Butler believes in cross training, so his runners regularly swim as part of their workout routine. “And what the guys like most after all of the laps is playing water polo,” Butler said. “They learn to compete with each and they learn to depend upon each other, and I get to see what kind of team people they are.”

• This will be the 49th Orange County Championships. Divisions 3, 4 and 5 will run Friday. Divisions 1, 2 and 3 go Saturday.

• After his team’s 49-35 win over Orange Lutheran last week, it was suggested to Mater Dei football coach Bruce Rollinson that the game would provide many highlights for his team’s postseason banquet video. “And for Orange Lutheran’s, too,” Rollinson said. Yes, there were that many great plays for both teams.

• The CIF Southern Section released its transfer numbers for September. Compared to September 2014, there were 449 more transfers this September (1,370) than last September (921). That seems like a lot, but perhaps not so much when it is considered there are 583 schools in the CIF Southern Section.

• Work on Davidson Field, the football and track stadium at Newport Harbor, has been delayed, so football games will be played there this season.

• Tickets for the Servite vs. Mater Dei football game Oct. 23 at Angel Stadium are available at Mater Dei today, Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its Meruelo Athletic Center. Cash transactions only. Prices: $15 reserved; $10 general admission; $5 students.

• Servite-Mater Dei tickets are on sale at the Servite athletic office, for the same prices and also on a cash-only basis, Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is Mater Dei’s home game, and it will be a game that will have major impact on the Trinity League standings and which league teams go to the playoffs.

• Servite and Tesoro are included in this week’s California football top 25 as compiled by CalHiSports.com. The Titans debuted at No. 24, Servite at No. 25. Other O.C. teams in the state football top 25 are Mater Dei (No. 4), Mission Viejo (No. 7), Orange Lutheran (No. 20) and San Juan Hills (No. 23).

• Football pants must go low enough to cover the entire knee and knee pad. That’s a rule. See how many players violate that rule if you attend a game tonight.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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