For the first time this season, the San Clemente girls cross country team resembled the squad that entered the season as the defending Division 1 state champions.
Led by a first place finish from junior Melissa Eisele, the Tritons recorded a perfect 4-0 multi-team dual record at the South Coast League Preview Meet Wednesday at Irvine Regional Park.
Eisele, the two-time defending South Coast League champion, crossed the finish line in a time of 17:36. Tesoro freshman Amanda Gehrich was second in a time of 17:42, while Trabuco Hills junior Dominique Regalado placed third in a time of 17:51.
All five teams in the meet entered the competition ranked in the county top 10, with No. 8 San Clemente knocking off No. 1 Capistrano Valley (27-28), No. 2 Tesoro (25-30), No. 5 Trabuco Hills (21-34), and No. 7 Dana Hills (25-30) in head-to-head dual meet scoring.
In “invitational” team scoring, the Tritons (51 points) edged the Cougars (52).
The Tritons' win over the Cougars came down to a battle of No. 5 runners, as Tritons senior Elizabeth Hays (18:55.0) nosed out Cougars sophomore Ashley Licata (18:55.6).