Royal Leads Southern Section Sweep
It was a clean sweep for Southern Section boys’ cross-country teams Saturday at the state championships. Even if it didn’t seem that way.
Simi Valley Royal, Los Angeles Loyola, Anaheim Servite, Laguna Beach and Flintridge Prep took home titles on the muddy 3.1-mile course at Woodward Park in Fresno, the first time the section won every boys’ division since 1988.
Royal had five runners among the top 36 finishers in the Division I race. The Highlanders scored 65 points to easily out-distance second-place Dana Point Dana Hills at 130. It was the second-biggest margin of victory in a Division I state final. Dylan Jaedtke finished seventh in 15 minutes 36 seconds to pace Royal.
“They all stepped it up,” Royal Coach Ryan Luce said.
Brandon Bethke of Lake Forest El Toro, who finished third last week at the section final, took the lead from Diego Mercado of West Covina heading into the final mile and won in 15:06, the fastest time of the day.
“I just didn’t want to leave it up to the end,” Bethke said. “I figured if I went out hard and died at the end, at least I gave it my all.”
Loyola won its second state title in three years with a 111-118 victory over Castroville North Monterey County in the Division II race. Mark Matusak of Loyola defended his Division II title in 15:09, four seconds ahead of Joe Gatel of Huntington Beach Edison and one second off his winning time last season.
The Cubs received key points from sophomore Bennett Duval, who was their fifth runner across the line and 61st overall.
Duval, who joined cross-country last season to get in shape for volleyball, was not expected to make the trip to Fresno, but injuries and illness to two teammates forced him into the starting lineup.
“To say we went deep into our bullpen is an understatement,” Coach Lalo Diaz said.
Servite had perhaps the most surprising victory, considering three years ago the Friars did not field a varsity team. Servite totaled 134 points to win a tight team race among Lompoc Cabrillo (137), Moraga Campolindo (141), Orinda Miramonte (146) and Oak Park (148).
Nick Mosey, who won a section title a week earlier, finished third for Servite in 16:09. The Friars also received key points from its fifth-place finisher, Matt Calabrese, who passed two Cabrillo runners in the final mile, resulting in a six-point switch.
“That was it, right there,” said Mike Glaze, an assistant for the Friars.
Max Mullender finished ninth overall and Jeremy Eaton was 11th to lead Laguna Beach to its first boys’ cross-country state title since 1989.