PREP CROSS-COUNTRY : Schools Have Choice of Mt. SAC, County Meets


Two of the Southern Section's biggest cross-country meets are this weekend, forcing coaches to choose between sending runners to the 29th annual Orange County Championships or the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational, where the section preliminaries and finals take place in November.

This marks the first time the events occur on the same weekend.

The Irvine girls' team, which edged Sea View League rival El Toro for the team title at last year's county championships, compete at Mt. SAC, where races will be run today and Saturday on the college's campus in Walnut.

The Vaqueros, ranked fifth in the Orange County sportswriters' poll, will run in the Division I-II team sweepstakes race along with seventh-ranked Santa Margarita at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The Santa Margarita boys' team, led by Michael Murray, is No. 6 in the county poll and undefeated in the Sea View League. The Eagles will compete in the Division I-II boys' team sweepstakes at 9:30 a.m.

Today's competition at Mt. SAC features Division III and IV schools. Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor are the county's top entrants in the Division III team sweepstakes races, beginning at 5:10 p.m. for the boys and 5:30 for the girls. Last year, Corona del Mar competed at the county championships, where Tracy Clark won the girls' individual title in 17 minutes 36 seconds.

The Orange County Championships begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at Irvine Regional Park.

Mater Dei will defend its boys' team sweepstakes title against Katella, the county's top-ranked team since the season began. The Knights, who are No. 1 in the section's Division II rankings and No. 3 in the state's Division II rankings, will be looking for their first county championships title.

"I had already decided [to participate in the county championships] before we found out they were on the same day," Katella boys' Coach Mike Cochrane said. "I want to be part of it."

El Modena, the county's top-ranked girls' team, is the favorite in the girls' team sweepstakes race, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. The Vanguards, who are ranked No. 1 in the section's Division III poll and No. 2 in the state's Division III poll, have already won the Las Vegas and Stanford invitationals this fall.

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