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SOUTHERN SECTION CHAMPIONSHIPS : CROSS-COUNTRY / GIRLS’ FINALS : Santa Margarita Picks Right Time, Place to Run Its Best Race

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Santa Margarita girls may have been down, but proved they definitely were not out Saturday at the Southern Section cross-country finals.

The Eagles, who gained an at-large berth to the section preliminaries last week after a dismal fifth-place finish in the Sea View League, won the Division II-A final with 41 points, three better than Foothill.

“We just needed them all to run well in one race and they picked a great day to do it,” Eagle Coach Cindy Schaaf said.

Junior Katie Nuanes and sophomore Dani Rope finished second and third as individuals, running 18 minutes 20 seconds and 19:38 to lead the Eagles.

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“The Sea View is a very competitive league and I think this proved it today,” Schaaf said. “That was a wake-up call for us.”

Los Alamitos hasn’t found the need for a wake-up call all season, as the Griffins turned back the Division I-AA competition en route to a berth for the State meet, Saturday at Fresno’s Woodward Park.

Senior Amber Pierce ran 18:58 for fourth place, and teammates Kim Bates (19:23), Lezlee Tamo (19:43) and Maeleia Lines (19:46) finished among the top 15 overall for the Griffins.

Los Alamitos scored 57 points, edging Chino Ayala by nine points and Sunset League rivals Fountain Valley (81) and Esperanza (91) for the team title.

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Angie Winkler of Fountain Valley finished as the Division I-AA runner-up, racing to the county’s second-fastest individual clocking of 18:13.

University freshman Allyson Marquand posted the area’s top time in winning the Division II-AA title. The first-year runner ran 17:38, the third-fastest time run by a freshman and two seconds faster than she ran to win a preliminary heat a week ago.

University finished second to Dana Hills, 60-68, earning the school’s first berth in the State meet.

“I think we made it to State, so that’s really neat for the team,” said Marquand, who won the Pacific Coast League title two weeks ago.

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El Modena and Newport Harbor finished as the top two teams in the Division III-AA race. The Vanguards defended their section title, scoring 29 points to 62 for the Sailors. Both teams advanced to the State meet.

Sophomores Jessica Dahlberg (19:14) and Leslie Burton (19:21) finished second and third as individuals to lead the Vanguards to the team title.

Heather Garritson of Buena Park earned her second consecutive individual berth to the State meet, winning the Division III-AA title in 18:42.

Irvine earned its sixth consecutive State meet berth as a team, finishing second in Division I-A with 68 points. Canyon Country Canyon won the team title with 33 points.

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Jessica Corbin finished second for the Vaqueros, matching her best time on the hilly three-mile course of 18:18..

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Notes

Kristin Groncy led Orange Lutheran to a State meet spot, as the Lancers finished third in the Division IV-AA race. The junior ran 19:15 for third place. . . . Newport Harbor freshman Alicia McFall was the first ninth-grader to cross the line in Division III-AA, running 19:32 for third place. . . . Stacey Young of Pacifica, Mandy Schwecherl of Laguna Hills, Peggy Hall of Trabuco Hills, Araceli Martinez of Estancia and Lindsay Buwalda qualified as individuals for the State meet next Saturday in Fresno’s Woodward Park. . . . Young ran 19:41 for eighth in the Division III-A race and Schwecherl finished third in the Division II-A race in 19:16. . . . Hall ran 19:37 to earn ninth place in Division II-AA. . . . Martinez ran 19:43 for ninth in the III-A. . . . Buwalda ran 19:16 for fourth in the Division IV-AA race.

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