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Local freshmen shine in Laguna Hills Invitational

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Ocean View’s Brandon Gayler finished second in the Division 3 boys’ sophomore race on Saturday at the Laguna Hills Invitational.
(Spencer Grant)

Local high school cross-country coaches have found that the Laguna Hills Invitational presents an ideal opportunity for emerging talents in the sport to discover their potential.

Not only does the meet run its races by division, but also by grade level.

Beyond that, the Kevin Dempsey Cross-Country Course on the campus of Laguna Hills High offers the kind of hilly terrain rarely found elsewhere across Southern California.

“I just love it,” Edison coach Brian Brierly said. “It’s a good early-season course where it completely changes the mentality of the kids. This is something that is so different than most courses. The only real close comparison is usually Mt. SAC.

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“It’s a great meet to get them in their grade level, so they’re not overstressed about, ‘Oh, I’m on varsity.’ ”

Brierly suspects that the pressure of a varsity race will not get to Chargers freshman Wylie Cleugh, who already projects to be Edison’s No. 3 runner this season.

Cleugh ran 16 minutes 43.1 seconds to win the Division 2 freshman boys’ race by 22 seconds on Saturday in the 36th annual Laguna Hills Invitational.

The Woodbridge Invitational, which will be held at SilverLakes Sports Park in Norco next Friday and Saturday, produces fast times with its flat course and night-time temperatures.

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Brierly believes that Cleugh could approach 16 minutes when the Chargers race at the upcoming meet.

“16 [minutes]-flat for a freshman is always an amazing time,” Brierly said. “Honestly, I told him today, after what he did, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes out and does that next week at Woodbridge in the varsity race [with] the great conditions, the atmosphere, everything that goes into it.”

Ocean View did not bring its varsity team to the meet after competing in a Golden West League cluster meet on Wednesday. Among the few the Seahawks had compete, Brandon Gayler, shined brightest with a runner-up showing (17:31.4) in the Division 3 sophomore race.

Gayler was coming off a win at the frosh-soph level in the cluster meet, which he said was his first career victory.

“[The varsity team] didn’t come because they’re racing Woodbridge next week,” Gayler said. “I was just trying to push for that spot next year. I’m just really hoping I can get there.”

Gayler’s moment could come sooner. Seahawks coach Daniel Hurtado said that senior Kolbe Nguyen and Gayler are battling for the seventh spot in the starting lineup.

Newport Harbor’s Leanna Tamura led the local efforts on the girls’ side, winning the Division 2 freshman race with a time of 19:41.3.

Tamura’s debut at the Laguna Hills Invitational topped those made by recent graduate Mia Matsunami and junior Isa Glassen as freshmen. Matsunami and Glassen have been the top two runners in the Newport Harbor girls’ program over the past two seasons.

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“What I did was I started my move on a downhill,” Tamura said, adding that she made her move shortly before the one-mile mark. “I just completely sprinted down one of the bigger hills on the course, and I tried to take a lead there. Then I just pushed up the rest of the hills, and I tried to just keep the gap behind me.”

Sailors girls’ coach Eric Tweit said that Tamura had a disciplined approach to not go out too quickly.

“Today, she felt comfortable enough to just sit in like third or fourth place for at least the first half mile,” Tweit said of Tamura. “Then she realized, ‘Hey, I can win this race,’ and then she went ahead and took the lead.”

Corona del Mar was led by Maya Buchwald, who finished second in the Division 3 girls’ senior race with a time of 20:12.4.

BOYS’ CROSS-COUNTRY

Laguna Hills Invitational

At Laguna Hills High

3-mile course

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Division 1 Senior

1. Gomez (Warren) 16:10.7; 2. Haney (San Marcos) 16:15.2; 3. Moscoso (Long Beach Wilson) 16:15.9; 4. Elsesser (Long Beach Wilson) 16:31.1; 5. Pollack (Long Beach Wilson) 16:34.5

Division 2 Senior

1. Niednagel (La Costa Canyon) 15:41.3; 2. Pueschel (La Costa Canyon) 15:46.3; 3. Trujillo (Anaheim) 16:18.9; 4. Beck (Mira Mesa) 16:24.3; 5. Talbert (Woodbridge) 16:36.4

Division 3 Senior

1. Smith (Pacifica) 16:13.4; 2. Baughan (Faith Lutheran) 16:14.4; 3. Ruvalcaba (Rancho Alamitos) 16:23.8; 4. Hernandez (Rancho Alamitos) 16:29.9; 5. Millero (Faith Lutheran) 16:33.3

Division 1 Junior

1. Palacios (Santa Ana) 16:03.6; 2. Horspool (San Clemente) 16:08.6; 3. Del Carmen (Santa Ana) 16:19.5; 4. Murasmith (Vista Murrieta) 16:29.6; 5. Hagerman (Vista Murrieta) 16:30.5

Division 2 Junior

1. Mordy (Capistrano Valley) 16:00.6; 2. Millan (Mira Costa) 16:05.2; 3. Welton (Woodbridge) 16:07.1; 4. Rosales (Murrieta Valley) 16:22.7; 5. Clark (Newport Harbor) 16:24.3

Division 3 Junior

1. Adelman (St. Margaret’s) 16:05.8; 2. Capelle (St. Margaret’s) 16:19.3; 3. Arriola (JSerra) 16:35.8; 4. Bollman (Corona del Mar) 16:45.4; 5. Molina (Rancho Alamitos) 16:55.3

Division 1 Sophomore

1. Colchico (Long Beach Wilson) 16:22.6; 2. Palma (Santa Ana) 16:32.9; 3. Mendoza (Patriot) 16:33.8; 4. Taylor (San Marcos) 16:42.3; 5. Corona (Warren) 17:02.6

Division 2 Sophomore

1. Sweningson (Foothill) 16:13.8; 2. De Jesus (Godinez) 16:24.9; 3. Bramel (Foothill) 16:34.9; 4. Allred (Foothill) 16:44.9; 5. Queen (La Costa Canyon) 16:59.3

Division 3 Sophomore

1. Ermisch (JSerra) 16:58.3; 2. Gayler (Ocean View) 17:31.4; 3. Davis (El Modena) 17:31.9; 4. Alcocer (Pacifica) 17:35.4; 5. Marinescu (Corona del Mar) 17:43.4

Division 1 Freshman

1. Presa (San Marcos) 16:29.8; 2. Hurley (San Marcos) 17:06.3; 3. Goetschel (Tesoro) 17:23.4; 4. Landgraf (Dana Hills) 17:24.8; 5. Dominguez (Santa Ana) 17:37.4

Division 2 Freshman

1. Cleugh (Edison) 16:43.1; 2. McDaniel (Mission Viejo) 17:05.5; 3. Mordy (Capistrano Valley) 17:14.0; 4. Romano (Anaheim) 17:21.0; 5. Niednagel (La Costa Canyon) 17:40.1

Division 3 Freshman

1. Shen (St. Margaret’s) 17:17.5; 2. Guerra (Servite) 17:37.3; 3. Thomas (Chadwick) 17:40.2; 4. Dang (Westminster) 17:47.8; 5. Nguyen (Westminster) 17:54.7

GIRLS’ CROSS-COUNTRY

Laguna Hills Invitational

At Laguna Hills High

3-mile course

Division 1 Senior

1. Hernandez (Santa Ana) 19:02.9; 2. Gomez (Warren) 19:27.9; 3. Fick (Vista Murrieta) 19:55.8; 4. Schneider (Vista Murrieta) 20:20.6; 5. Liera (Warren) 20:24.6

Division 2 Senior

1. Corsinita (Capistrano Valley) 18:59.4; 2. Farr (Foothill) 19:21.5; 3. Akiaten (Mira Mesa) 19:28.6; 4. Lima (Rancho Verde) 19:42.4; 5. Klauke (University) 19:54.8

Division 3 Senior

1. Peters (Monrovia) 19:50.5; 2. Buchwald (Corona del Mar) 20:12.4; 3. Ramos (La Quinta) 20:17.3; 4. Engels (JSerra) 20:54.7; 5. Flores (Bellflower) 21:04.9

Division 1 Junior

1. Richards (Aliso Niguel) 18:43.5; 2. Anderson (San Clemente) 19:50.5; 3. Green (San Clemente) 20:09.9; 4. Wilson (Aliso Niguel) 20:13.2; 5. Zuniga (San Juan Hills) 20:13.2

Division 2 Junior

1. Landis (Northwood) 19:46.8; 2. Villa (Anaheim) 20:20.3; 3. Tuley (Foothill) 20:29.7; 4. McAveney (Foothill) 20:30.7; 5. Trueman (Capistrano Valley) 20:43.4

Division 3 Junior

1. Timmermans (El Modena) 19:45.8; 2. Collier (St. Margaret’s) 20:14.6; 3. Arundale (St. Margaret’s) 20:26.3; 4. Sharp (Corona del Mar) 20:35.7; 5. Margo (Brea Olinda) 20:38.4

Division 1 Sophomore

1. Schuerger (Aliso Niguel) 19:22.6; 2. Candaele (Vista Murrieta) 19:55.4; 3. Dunker (San Juan Hills) 20:26.7; 4. Peo (San Juan Hills) 20:45.6; 5. Guzman (Vista Murrieta) 20:48.9

Division 2 Sophomore

1. Compton (La Costa Canyon) 18:40.8; 2. Niednagel (La Costa Canyon) 19:04.2; 3. Patyna (La Costa Canyon) 19:26.8; 4. Labrada (Arroyo Valley) 19:32.9; 5. Beck (Capistrano Valley) 19:32.5

Division 3 Sophomore

1. Gladden (High Tech) 19:51.4; 2. Bernier (Shadow Mountain) 20:41.2; 3. Hamidi (El Modena) 20:41.4; 4. Qiu (Corona del Mar) 20:53.9; 5. Campos (San Gorgonio) 21:08.7

Division 1 Freshman

1. Huerta (Warren) 19:17.5; 2. Resser (San Clemente) 19:39.3; 3. Lindsay (Long Beach Poly) 19:45.8; 4. Geiger (Dana Hills) 19:50.7; 5. Banks (San Clemente) 20:24.5

Division 2 Freshman

1. Tamura (Newport Harbor) 19:41.3; 2. Friedel (Northwood) 19:54.6; 3. Stewart (Murrieta Valley) 20:03.5; 4. Larner (La Costa Canyon) 20:56.7; 5. Kessel (Foothill) 21:23.1

Division 3 Freshman

1. Blau (St. Margaret’s) 18:22.0; 2. Zdanavage (Portola) 18:37.9; 3. Poor (Pacifica) 20:15.0; 4. Murphy (JSerra) 20:24.0; 5. Mellott (Santa Margarita) 20:49.5

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