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Breakers sweep in finals

There was no landslide on the Orange Coast College course, site of the Orange Coast League girls’ and boys’ cross-country finals held Nov. 1.

It only occurred in the final standings of both divisions.

Laguna Beach easily won league titles in both the girls’ and boys’ varsity competitions.

Girls

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Laguna won the title with a low score of 22. Estancia placed second with 55 points, Costa Mesa third (87), and Calvary Chapel was fourth (88).

Calvary Chapel senior Chelsea VanCott won the varsity race in 18:19.25, Estancia senior Eunice Rodriguez was fifth (19:19.29) and Estancia junior Sindy Ramirez was 10th (19:57.06), but the rest of the top 10 was dominated by Laguna runners.

Leading the Breakers pack was senior Maggie Newton-Neal, who finished in secondplace with a time of 18:58.91. Other Breakers placing in the top 10 were senior Heather Thomas (third, 18:59.16), sophomore Parker Yamaski (fourth, 19:07.29), sophomore Kativa Strickland (sixth, 19:23.53), sophomore Camille Borges (seventh, 19:31.35), freshman Taylor Capobianco (eighth, 19:35.91) and junior Melissa Lenker (ninth, 19:48.99).

By winning the league finals title, the 2007 Breakers became the fifth Laguna team to win a league championship since girls’ cross-country started in 1974 following the passage of Title 9 in 1972, Coach Earl Towner said.

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The Breakers also ran the fastest team time (1:36.00.24) of any girls’ teams that Towner has coached at Laguna since 1988.

“I believe that the best is yet to come,” he said. Towner also said that Laguna also won its first junior varsity league title for the first time since 1986.

Next up for Laguna is Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division IV prelims at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut. The CIF-SS finals are Nov. 17, also at Mount SAC.

The CIF State meet is Nov. 24 at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Towner said he will take nine runners to the CIF prelims Saturday: Newton-Neal, Thomas, Borges, Yamasaki, Strickland , Capobianco, Lenker, senior Michaela Fleming and junior Cassidy Robinson.

Towner has a bright outlook for the Breakers when it comes to Saturday’s prelims race.

The top four teams from the different heats, advance to the Nov. 17 CIF finals.

“We should not have any trouble qualifying for finals,” he said. “We are the top-seeded team in our race heat for prelims, with only two other teams ranked in the top 10.”

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Boys

Laguna captured the league championship behind a 1-2 finish by Matt Neev and Yann Panassie in the varsity race.

The Breakers had a team low of 23 points. Estancia finished in second-place with 35 points.

Neev, just a freshman, shaved 31 seconds off his previous best time to win the race in 15:39. He finished just in front of Panassie, a senior, who crossed the line in 15:40.

Also earning all-league status for the Breakers were sophomore Blake Hofmeister (fifth, 15:46), junior Casey Finnerty (sixth, 15:48) and sophomore Richard Mattingley (ninth, 16:25).

“The meet went very well and hopefully will be a harbinger of good things to come in CIF,” Coach Dave Brobeck said.

Brobeck also mentioned that Laguna’s junior varsity and frosh/soph teams won their respective league titles with perfect team scores (15 points).

The varsity race figured to be a “very tight race” between Laguna and Estancia, he said.

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“Through the 1 1/2 miles, it certainly was,” Brobeck said. “However, my guys stayed composed and simply outlasted Estancia for a comfortable team win. It was very clear to me that we were better conditioned and have more depth than the Estancia squad.”

Brobeck will take 10 runners — his seven regular runners plus three alternates — to Saturday’s CIF prelims meet at Mount SAC. Race time is 2 p.m. for the Breakers

“I’ll run all the alternates and rest three key regulars, Neev, Mattingley and Rand Hardy, for the following week’s CIF finals and then State, in hopes of giving them fresher legs,” he said. “Prelims is not a race to get very excited about. It’s all about taking care of your business, moving on and knowing the fine line of not pushing too hard to compromise (CIF) finals and (CIF) State, while still qualifying.

“Whatever our final results are this year, I love this team. Nothing is expected of us. We’ve been publicly called a ‘rebuilding’ team after graduating four keys seniors last year, and we’re off the State radar because we’re young. There will be no better time to over-achieve than right now, and it’s well within our ability to do so.”

The Laguna 10 going to Saturday’s prelims race is Panassie, Finnerty, Neev, Hofmeister, Mattingley, Hardy, sophomore Tommy Newton-Neal, sophomore Sean Pigden, sophomore Jake Johnson and sophomore Andrew Shapero.

Hardy, a junior, placed 13th (16:42) at league finals.

Nine of the 10 are underclassmen with six being sophomores.



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