The Dana Hills girls' cross-country team not only pulled off one the biggest upsets in the 29-year history of the Orange County Championships, it did it in convincing fashion.
Ranked fifth in the county sportswriters poll before the meet, the Dolphins not only placed two runners among the top four in the team sweepstakes competition, they also managed six among the top 16 runners.
The Dolphins won with 40 points, besting Los Alamitos (95), Esperanza (108) and top-ranked El Modena (111).
"This is the first time I've had all of my top seven runners together the entire season," Dana Hills Coach Glenn Forster said. "They all ran their best races of the season on the same day."
Said Leonard: "We were all pretty nervous before the race. I didn't really know where I was going to finish."
The Dolphins won on the strength of Sydney Leonard (18 minutes 36 seconds) and Laura Kroninger (18:37), who finished third and fourth.
"Laura was right there at the end," Leonard said. "She has improved so much."
The individual battle in team sweepstakes race was decided in the early stages, with Fountain Valley senior Angie Winkler and Huntington Beach junior Jennifer Spahr breaking away from the pack in the first half-mile.
Winkler eventually pulled ahead, as she has done in each of the athletes' four meetings this year, winning by 24 seconds in 18:04.
"I knew [Spahr] would be right with me. I just tried to put distance between us with each little sprint that I put in," Winkler said.
After Leonard and Kroninger was the El Modena duo of Leslie Burton (18:37) and Jessica Dahlberg (18:38) and Los Alamitos' Kim Bates (18:46) and Amber Pierce (18:54).
Allyson Marquand of University ran the fastest overall time of the day, winning the individual seeded race in 17:54.
Marquand, a freshman, finished ahead of Heather Cuthbertson of Marina (18:46) and Pacifica's Stacey Young (18:53) for the victory.
Esperanza, which had 58 points, showed its depth in winning the team title with its best non-varsity runners in the individual seeded race. Aliso Niguel was next (74), followed by Edison (82).
Canyon won the first varsity race with 58 points, edging San Clemente (62) and Santa Ana (65). Mission Viejo, led by Taryn D'Agostino (20:01) won the second race with 24 points.