Although virtually blown away by Palos Verdes, the strongest girls’ cross-country team in the nation, nine Orange County girls’ teams found victories of their own Saturday in the 4-A division of the Southern Section cross-country championships at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.
Palos Verdes, placing five runners in the top 20 and scoring 32 points, won its fourth consecutive 4-A title. The Sea Kings, the state Division I defending champions, were led by senior Ashley Black, second overall in 18 minutes 14 seconds.
Edison freshman Shelley Taylor recorded the fastest time for county girls, placing fourth overall in 18:46. Included in the top 10 were University freshman Tanja Brix (fifth at 18:56), San Clemente sophomore Terri Smythers (seventh at 19:03) and Katella’s Martha Pinto (ninth at 19:12).
Newport Harbor, second-ranked in the 4-A division all season, had to settle for runner-up with 87 points.
“We wanted to beat Palos Verdes today,” Sailor Coach Bob Van Sickle said. “We were trying to go after them.”
Nevertheless, Newport Harbor ran well enough to remain the county girls’ leader. Stacy Pando led the way, placing 14th overall in 19:26. Following Pando were Maggie Steinhauser (24th, 19:53); Eva Mattson (27th, 20:04); Lena Dahbour (29th, 20:08) and Kim Robinson (32nd, 20:19).
“We’ve been fighting a lot of sickness,” Van Sickle said. “It’s just good we’re six deep. It it wasn’t for Mattson, we’d be hurting today.”
Huntington Beach, running in the Southern Section championship for the first time in school history, placed third with 133 points. Natalie Adam, 15th at 19:28, led the Oilers.
“It’s really, really exciting for us,” Huntington Beach Coach Gina Gruwell said. “It’s just been our focus all year in workouts to make it this far, and here we are.”
Irvine Coach Randy Rossi, whose Vaqueros placed fifth with 161 points, was ecstatic over his team’s finish.
“Oh, I’m thrilled with the girls today,” he said. “They all ran an excellent race. Our top girl, Andrea Caminiti, showed tremendous courage today.”.
Caminiti, who had been limited to pool workouts for the last 3 weeks because of an ankle injury, finished 42nd Saturday.
Other county finishers included sixth-place Tustin, led by freshman sensation Donna Mills (18th, 19:38); seventh-place El Toro, led by sophomore Shannon Liddy (20th, 19:45) and eighth-place Foothill, led by freshman Laura Amorfell (21st, 19:49).
In the girls’ 3-A division, La Habra finished eighth. In the 2-A division, Woodbridge finished sixth in the team standings, and Costa Mesa’s Danisha Bendz was sixth (19:41) individually.
Orange County team qualifiers for the State Championships Nov. 26 at Fresno were Newport Harbor and Foothill in Division II. Individually, Edison’s Shelley Taylor and University’s Tanja Brix qualified in Division I.