By Martin Henderson
Running may be an individual endeavor, but winning a team championship is all about depth. Five runners, five scores. So finishing well depends as much on the fifth man as the first.
Laguna Beach rolled into Fresno on Saturday and showed its depth on both its boys' and girls' programs as the Breakers came way with a pair of second place finishes in the State Cross Country Championships.
Running the 5K course layout at Woodward Park, Laguna Beach took second to Yreka, 102-148, in the Division 4 Boys race, and second to a dominant San Lorenzo Valley program in Division 4 Girls. SLV scored 86 points, to Laguna Beach's 189.
The Breakers boys were clustered from positions 10-48, and the girls from 20-57.
The other South Orange County teams that made a charge on the state championship were Dana Hills (132 points), which finished third in Division 1 Boys, albeit well behind Arcadia (59 points) and Madera South (88), and Trabuco Hills, which finished third in Division 1 Girls.
With 197 runners competing, junior Cameron Zuziak took 16th overall but 10th among the team competitors for the Laguna Beach boys (six runners in the individual meet finished ahead of him). His time of 16 minutes 17 seconds was 62 seconds behind race winner Caleb Webb of Big Bear.
Zuziak was followed by teammates Casey Koprowski in 20th (16:37), Veda Rebollar in 32nd (16:47), Drake Butler in 38th (16:49) and Mason Pitz in 48th (17:00).
Anthony Mariconda took 15th for JSerra, which finished eighth in pursuit of the team crown.
In the girls' D2 race, Laguna Beach's Brenna Merchant (19:29) and Natalie Kimball (19:37) finished 20th and 23rd, respectively, and were followed by Janie Crawford (19:53) in 36th, Kirsten Landseidel (20:21) in 53rd and Eliza Romero (20:26) in 57th. Pearl Shoemaker, whose finish didn't contribute to the scoring because she was the sixth runner on the team, finished 84th overall and 62nd among the team competitors at 20:31 in the 207-runner race.
The top local finisher was junior Ashley Geisler (18:38) of JSerra, who finished ninth overall but fourth among the scorers in the team competition (scores of individual competitors were not included). She, along with everyone in the field, was blasted by race winner Anna Maxwell (17:08) of San Lorenzo Valley, who finished 44 seconds ahead of the second-place runner.
JSerra finished fifth in the race as Kylie Fracassi (19:23) finished 18th. Although JSerra's top two runners finished ahead of Laguna Beach's, the other three scorers couldn't keep pace.
Local teams were most competitive in Girls Division 1. Although no one could challenge Great Oak (79 points), Trabuco Hills (154 points) finished five points behind Davis, and Capistrano Valley (157) finished fourth. San Clemente (194) finished seventh.
Four runners finished in the top 20: Capo Valley's Grace Schafer (17:50) was eighth, San Clemente's Melissa Eisele (17:51) was ninth, Trabuco Hills' Sabrina Herrmann (17:56) was 14th, and teammate Bailee Margolis (17:58) was 16th.
Arcadia won the D1 Boys race by having four runners finish among the top 11 scorers, which offset Madera South, which had five finish among the top 23. Dana Hills had four finish among the top 35 scorers, including sophomores Jake Ogden (9th overall, 15:33) and Mason Coppi (35th, 15:58), senior Gavin Diem (12th, 15:38) and Alex Smith (14th, 15:42). Ogden recorded the fastest time of any South County runner. The fastest time of the day belonged to race winner Tal Braude of Torrey Pines (15:02), who beat Arcadia's Estevan De La Rosa by one second.
Despite finishing 10th, El Toro was one of few teams that had three runners in the top 50: Jeremy Porter (20th, 15:48) and sophomores Clyde Ford (38th, 16:00) and Michael Biedebach (42nd, 16:02).
Other South County teams that competed included:
• Tesoro, seventh in Boys Division 2 behind Sander Kushen (12th, 15:46) and Scott Curran (23rd, 15:55);
• Running in the individual race, Tesoro's Amanda Gehrich (17:42) finished seventh in Division 2 championship. Race-winner Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley had the day's fastest time at 16:43;
• St. Margaret's, 12th in Boys Division 5 behind junior Collin Price (6th, 16:03) and 11th in Girls Division 5 behind freshman Blake Crowley (34th, 20:35);
• Laguna Hills, eight in Girls Division 3 behind juniors Brianna Bartello (10th, 18:30) and Marissa Bartello (13th, 18:41).