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JASON EICHELBERGER, OCVARSITY.COM
The St. Margaret's boys team has now won the Academy League title in each of the last four seasons.

St. Margarets retains Academy League title

OCVARSITY.COM

ORANGE- Though the margin for error may not be what it has been in recent seasons, the St. Margaret’s boys cross country team showed Wednesday that it is still the standard of excellence in the Academy League.
    
Senior Brandon Price won the individual league title, leading the Tartans to their fourth straight team title at the Academy League Finals Wednesday at Irvine Regional Park.
    
“It’s been a tough season for us, and we knew it was going to be hard, but our team is starting to come together,” Price said. “
    
The Tartans, who have won two straight CIF-SS Division 5 and Division 5 state titles, entered the season ranked No. 1 in Division 5.

But they finished second by 21 points to Crean Lutheran in the first league meet of the season in September.

“They (Crean Lutheran) put it to us the first league meet, which was a nice slap in the face for us,” Tartans co-coach Rob Lakeman said.

The Tartans edged the Saints by four points in the second league meet, setting up a highly anticipated third head to head match-up with the league title at stake.

Lakeman acknowledged the message that he and fellow co-coach Dylan Wade preached to the team heading into Wednesday’s final was simple.

“We told the guys to be patient, and if everyone did their job, we could do it,” Lakeman said.

Early in the race, Price and Crean Lutheran sophomore Sean Pino were stride for stride in front of the lead pack.

Price forged a small lead over Pino early in the second mile, with his brother Collin steadily moving up toward near the lead duo.

Brandon Price maintained his advantage as the race entered the mile final, with a surge from Collin Price moving him into second place.

Striding well up the final hill and down the final straightaway, Brandon Price crossed the finish line in a time of 15:25.

“Coming into the race, I wanted to push the pace,” Price said. “Collin and the rest of the team did their jobs and ran strong.”

Collin Price was second in a time of 15:31, with Crean Lutheran’s Michael Sciarra finishing third in a time of 15:34.

Oxford Academy’s Robert Miyoshi (15:40) finished fourth and qualified for CIF as an individual.

Pino was fifth in a time of 15:50.

St. Margaret’s had four runners finish in the top seven to edge the second place Saints by a score of 33-35.

“He (Brandon) had a strategy and it worked,” Lakeman said. “Collin has gotten better each and every race and was confident. Sebastian Luna and Garrett Corwin, our third and fourth runners, did their jobs and are right where we want them to be.”

Sage Hill grabbed the final automatic team qualifying spot, finishing third with 83 points.    


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