Boys preview for Saturday's CIF-SS Finals
El Toro senior Juan Gonzalez has been among the elite runners in the CIF-SS Division 1 throughout the 2012 season.
He will now take aim at the section’s top individual prize at the CIF-SS Divisional Finals Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.
After winning his heat at last week’s preliminary meet, Gonzalez laid out a simple recipe for what it will take to have a successful performance on the famed Mt. Sac course.
“Like I always, I plan to follow my coach’s command and not take anything for granted,” Gonzalez said. “I just have to try and stay out in the lead group and do everything in my power to keep that energy for the last mile.”
Gonzalez will also hope to lead his fellow Chargers teammates to the state meet. El Toro placed second in its preliminary heat last week and will join fellow South Coast League rivals Trabuco Hills and Dana Hills.
The Mustangs and Dolphins have vied for county supremacy throughout the season, with Trabuco Hills getting the better of the Dolphins in prelims. Led by individual heat winner Naoki Omatsu, Trabuco Hills (51 points) had four runners place in the top eight and produced the best overall team time in Division 1.
“Our coach has been telling us to race as a team and not just for ourselves,” Omatsu said. “The focus for CIF finals will be on maintaining the work ethic that we have had the last two weeks.”
Dana Hills, who ran without standout freshman Jake Ogden (rest) finished second with 61 points.
Edison senior Jeff Thies will compete as an individual.
The CIF-SS Division 2 finals will feature four of the county’s top individual runners this season.
Godinez senior Jose Penaloza, who was second in last year’s race, tied for the top time among all county runners in the prelims (15:03) and seemed ready to compete for the individual title.
“I felt good on the course (in prelims) and will put in hard work for finals,” Penaloza said.
Villa Park junior Garrett Corcoran won his individual heat in a time of 15:03, and despite being a race favorite, enjoys portraying more of an underdog role.
“I like to think of myself as someone that no one expects to win,” Corcoran said. “I like being that guy that comes out of now where to place really high, so having high expectations is different for me.”
Canyon senior Austin Goins placed first in his heat and will have the dual role of trying to lead the Comanches to state meet.
“Going into the race, we have to keep the intensity of our speed workouts to be ready for the challenges that the CIF finals as to offer,” Goins said.
Woodbridge junior Jackson Marshall will also run as an individual.
Tesoro was second in its qualifying heat and will also compete in the Division 2 finals.
Buena Park senior Gilbert Solorza prepared for the chance to win an individual title by producing Division 3’s fast individual qualifying time (15:14). Brea Olinda freshman Austin Tamagno (15:17) was second and led the Wildcats to an easy heat win.
Santa Margarita senior Gabriel Marasigan will run as an individual, while county teams in the Division 3 finals will be Corona del Mar, Laguna Hills, and Mater Dei.
In Division 4, Crean Lutheran will look to win its first ever CIF-SS team title. The Saints qualified for the finals with the fastest team time of all Division 4 teams at last week’s preliminaries.
JSerra, Costa Mesa, and Laguna Beach will also compete in the Division 4 finals.
Oxford Academy senior Robert Miyoshi will run as an individual.
Two-time Division 5 champion St. Margaret’s will be attempting to win for the third straight season. The Tartans prepared for their chance at a three peat with a heat win at the preliminaries. Brothers Brandon and Collin Price, along with senior Garrett Corwin spurred the Tartans qualifying efforts, finishing second, third and fourth, respectively.
Fellow Academy League rival Sage Hill will also compete in the finals.