Go to the "OCVarsity Hot Shots: Championship Saturday" slide show to see all of the photos from the meet.
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San Clemente, JSerra capture titles at CIF Finals
WALNUT - Perfectly executing the pack running style they have displayed throughout much of the season, the San Clemente girls cross country team overcame the challenge of a familiar rival to experience an unfamiliar taste of CIF success.
The Tritons outdueled fellow South Coast League rival Dana Hills to win the program’s first CIF title at the CIF-SS Divisional Finals Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College.
“The girls felt good mentally and thought they had a good shot,” said Tritons coach Dave Proodian. “To finish the Southern Section with a championship is special.”
Though they didn’t have a runner finish in the top 10 individually, the Tritons impressively won with their strategy of running cohesively. Four Triton runners finished in the top 25, as San Clemente totaled 105 points. Dana Hills, which had four runners place in the top 30, finished second with 111 points.
“As a team, we wanted to run this race relaxed, with no pressure, and to the best of our abilities,” said Tritons sophomore Melissa Eisele, who was the team’s leading finisher in 12th.
“To go from barely making state last year to winning this meet this year shows how much hard work can pay off.”
Marina also advanced as a team to the state final in Division 1, placing fifth with 152 points.
Aliso Niguel senior Danica Wyson was the lone individual county runner to earn a berth in the state final. Wyson (17:48) placed fifth and finished with the best individual time among all county runners in the race, one second better than Vikings senior Laura Hollander (17:49) who was sixth.
JSerra impressively defended its CIF-SS Division 4 title from a season ago and will look to do the same at next week’s state final. Led by junior Colby Lindholm (18:31), the Lions had all five scoring runners finish in the top 20 and easily outscored runner-up Mayfield (49-114).
“Being ranked No. 1 all season we knew we had a target on our back, but it never bothered the girls and they were confident,” said Lions coach Marty Dugard. “This team runs as a tight pack and they want to win.”
Laguna Beach (178 points) was fifth in the team battle and advanced into the state finals.
Whittier Christian senior Kellian Hunt will compete in the Division 4 state final for the third straight season, as she finished third in a time of 17:53.
For the second straight week, Newport Harbor junior Paige Tennison had the county’s best individual time among all five divisions. Tennison was bettered only by Simi Valley sophomore Sarah Baxter (16:46) and Saugus senior Karis Frankian (17:06) as she crossed the finish line in the Division 2 final with a time of 17:15 and will run as an individual at the state meet.
“I feel as though I raced well today,” said Tennison.
Woodbridge and Tesoro will represent the county in the Division 2 state final next week. Senior Molly Babcock (17:32) had the second fastest individual county time of the day to lead the Warriors (159 points) to a fourth place team finish, while the Titans finished sixth with 199 points.
Santa Margarita led a trio of county teams that advanced to the Division 3 state final, as the Eagles (178 points) finished a county-best fourth. Corona del Mar (190 points) and Northwood (192 points) placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
Bolsa Grande freshman Jeanette Zambrano qualified for the finals as an individual with an eighth-place finish.