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Babcock, Woodbridge girls claim titles at PCL Finals
ORANGE - With senior Molly Babcock setting a blistering pace, the Woodbridge girls cross country team wrapped up an undefeated regular season with another impressive showing.
Babcock sprinted away from fellow All-County runner Ashlee Powers of Corona del Mar over the final half mile to claim her second consecutive individual league title and lead the Warriors to their second team title in a row at the Pacific Coast League Finals on Friday at Irvine Regional Park.
“I definitely wanted to win this race,” said Babcock. “As a team, we’ve been training on hills and I think we’re ready for Mt. SAC and ready to push those hills.”
Babcock and Powers, along with Woodbridge senior Nicole Evans and University junior Maya Desai, pulled away from the pack early in the first mile and jockeyed for position throughout the first mile.
In the second mile, Babcock, Powers and Evans went stride for stride for a stretch before Babcock and Powers separated slightly and battled in the front as the race entered the final mile.
Babcock and Powers continued to battle back and forth as they made their way up the final hill before Babcock put on a surge. She opened a small lead as they came down the hill and entered the final straightaway.
Babcock crossed the finish line in a time of 16:33, a new personal best on a three-mile course.
“I knew the first mile needed to be fast to get a good time and I wanted to push hard in the second mile because that is my weakest point,” said Babcock. “On the last hill, I just tried to give it my best and she (Powers) couldn’t quite keep up.
"Ashley is a close friend of mine and one of the best opponents I’ve ever run against and we’ve consistently run together.”
Powers placed second in a time of 16:37, and Evans crossed the finish line in 16:46. Desai (17:18) was the lone individual runner in the race to qualify for CIF by finishing in fourth place.
Spurred by the performance of Babcock and Evans, the Warriors defended their team title from a season ago. They had four runners place in the top six and all five in the top 15 to score 30 points.
“Our philosophy has been to set up our postseason with league finals,” said Warriors coach George Varvas. “We were undefeated all season long and wanted a strong performance to get ready for the rest of the season.”
Corona del Mar, which had all five scoring runners place in the top 20, was second with 49 points. Northwood (67 points) secured the final automatic CIF qualifying berth by also placing five scoring runners in the top 20 to finish third.