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Huntington Beach girls take second at Central Park Invitational

Huntington Beach's Makenzie McRae finishes first in the Central Park Invitational girls' Section 1 race.
Huntington Beach’s Makenzie McRae finishes first in the Central Park Invitational girls’ Section 1 race on Saturday in Huntington Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Without the platform of invitationals last season, the improvement of the Huntington Beach High School girls’ cross-country team may have flown under the radar.

The Oilers took the strength in numbers approach, emphasizing the pack racing style while competing in a spring season that consisted of dual meets against schools in their district to minimize crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new reinforcement has now given the Oilers an ace at the front.

Sophomore Makenzie McRae posted a winning time of 17 minutes 38.5 seconds in her season debut on Saturday, leading a strong showing for Huntington Beach in the Central Park Invitational.

McRae, who returned to Southern California after spending the previous school year in Oregon, was one of two girls to finish with a time of under 18 minutes in the Section 1 girls’ varsity race, which featured the larger schools at the meet.

“I lived in Bend, Oregon, which is like central Oregon,” McRae said. “I just think the altitude and being up there for a year definitely helped my running, especially now that it is like no altitude over here.”

Huntington Beach finished second to Redondo Union, which won the team battle by a count of 75-95. Quinn Roldan (fourth, 18:19.2) and Claire Lewis (fifth, 18:19.7) also placed well for the Oilers, and Luna Centeno (42nd, 20:04.0) and Belle Baker (20:20.5) rounded out the scoring five.

Fountain Valley's Benjamin Prado competes in the Central Park Invitational boys' Section 1 race on Saturday.
Fountain Valley’s Benjamin Prado finishes third in the Central Park Invitational boys’ Section 1 race.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Oilers coach Kareen Shackelford credited the work of the program’s seniors for creating a culture of hard work for the incoming runners to follow. She said the coaching staff lets the athletes set their own goals.

“It’s not we the coaches,” Shackelford said. “We ask them what their goals were, and they have big dreams.”

Corona del Mar sophomore Melisse Djomby-Enyawe delivered a lifetime-best performance in taking third place in 18:08.1, knocking 22 seconds off her personal record established at the Woodbridge Classic two weeks prior.

Corona del Mar's Melisse Djomby Enyawe (400) competes against Huntington Beach's Quinn Roldan (1123) and Claire Lewis (1108).
Corona del Mar’s Melisse Djomby-Enyawe (400) competes against Huntington Beach’s Quinn Roldan (1123) and Claire Lewis (1108).
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Emma Scheumann (16th, 19:04.0) paced Newport Harbor, and Leah Ferris (19th, 19:12.9) led Fountain Valley.

Santa Ana topped Redondo Union 70-74 for the boys’ team title. Fountain Valley, which put on the Central Park Invitational (Saturday marked the 40th running of the meet), finished fifth in the boys’ competition with 131 team points.

Junior Benjamin Prado built on last week’s performance at the Dana Hills Invitational, when he finished with a time of 15 minutes-flat on one of the fastest courses in Orange County. He represented the Barons well in claiming third place in 15:16.9.

“I wanted to go out fast and try to win,” Prado said. “I went out at the front, staying behind a few people to draft so that I wasted the least amount of energy possible.”

Esteban Prado, who was a standout runner for the Barons in his prep days, won the open division race of the meet prior to the high school competition. He crossed the finish line in 15:13.6, holding onto bragging rights over his brother for now.

Edison's Wylie Cleugh places sixth in the Central Park Invitational boys' Section 1 race in 15:30.0.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Edison’s Wylie Cleugh was another local to finish in the top 10 in the Section 1 boys’ varsity race, placing sixth in 15:38.0.

Chargers coach Brian Brierly said that Cleugh has been challenging himself of late by pushing the tempo in the first mile of races.

BOYS’ CROSS-COUNTRY

Central Park Invitational

At Central Park, Huntington Beach

3-mile course

Section 1

Team Results

1. Santa Ana 70; 2. Redondo Union 74; 3. Trabuco Hills 75; 4. ML King 126; 5. Fountain Valley 131; 6. Warren 163; 7. Los Alamitos 164; 8. Edison 203; 9. Granada Hills Charter 213; 10. El Modena; 12. Corona del Mar 306;

Individuals

1. Waligorski (Redondo Union) 15:04.8; 2. Dominguez (Santa Ana) 15:12.8; 3. Prado (Fountain Valley) 15:16.9; 4. Carlin (Foothill) 15:23.2; 5. Thomas (Redondo Union) 15:27.6; 6. Cleugh (Edison) 15:38.0; 7. Palma (Santa Ana) 15:43.5; 8. Anguiano (Warren) 15:43.5; 9. Williams (Trabuco Hills) 15:48.0; 10. Ramos (Santa Ana) 15:49.4; 32. Mahmood (Corona del Mar) 16:24.6

Section 2

Team Results

1. Wilson/HH 79; 2. Foothill Technology 140; 3. Rancho Alamitos 145; 4. South Torrance 161; 5. Portola 166; 6. Culver City 197; 7. San Diego 206; 8. Chadwick 216; 9. Godinez 228; 10. Nordhoff 246; 11. Sage Hill 253

Individuals

1. Gudiel (Wilson/HH) 15:25.0; 2. Thomas (Chadwick) 15:34.1; 3. Galindo (Savanna) 15:48.4; 4. Billings (Foothill Technology) 16:11.0; 5. Rodriguez (Costa Mesa) 16:23.7; 6. Kirk (South Torrance) 16:26.2; 7. Gwynne (Wilson/HH) 16:28.9; 8. Rodriguez (Whitney) 16:29.6; 9. Radmilovich (Calvary Chapel) 16:40.9; 10. Mejia (Godinez) 16:45.6; 49. Li (Sage Hill) 17:55.2; 110. Ocampo (Estancia) 20:36.7

GIRLS’ CROSS-COUNTRY

Central Park Invitational

At Central Park, Huntington Beach

3-mile course

Section 1

Team Results

1. Redondo Union 75; 2. Huntington Beach 95; 3. Granada Hills Charter 101; 4. Los Alamitos 119; 5. Corona del Mar 162; 6. Trabuco Hills 170; 7. Newport Harbor 188; 8. Coronado 200; 9. Esperanza 205; 10. ML King 218

Individuals

1. McRae (Huntington Beach) 17:38.5; 2. Fedio (Redondo Union) 17:53.5; 3. Djomby-Enyawe (Corona del Mar) 18:08.1; 4. Roldan (Huntington Beach) 18:19.2; 5. Lewis (Huntington Beach) 18:19.7; 6. Brunken (ML King) 18:33.5; 7. McQuillen (Los Alamitos) 18:46.3; 8. Valenzuela (Redondo Union) 18:47.4; 9. Magdesian (Redondo Union) 18:47.5; 10. Huerta (Warren) 18:49.4

Section 2

Team Results

1. El Segundo 38; 2. South Torrance 59; 3. Wilson/HH 113; 4. Chadwick 154; 5. Costa Mesa 200; 6. Godinez 201; 7. Rancho Alamitos 213; 8. Sage Hill 216; 9. Culver City 224; 10. Cerritos 231

Individuals

1. Esponda (South Torrance) 19:01.2; 2. Matlosz (El Segundo) 19:11.9; 3. Mummery (South Torrance) 19:14.5; 4. Le (Temple City) 19:22.2; 5. Graner (San Diego) 19:36.0; 6. Montenegro (El Segundo) 19:39.2; 7. Bernauer (El Segundo) 19:52.5; 8. Mangali (Chadwick) 20:03.9; 9. Alatorre (Costa Mesa) 20:13.2; 10. Choi (South Torrance) 20:18.0; 20. Langdale (Sage Hill) 21:01.8; 21. Cross (Pacifica Christian) 21:11.1; 91. Merida (Estancia) 24:57.5

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