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Fountain Valley cross-country teams claim titles in Sunset Conference finals

Fountain Valley's Benjamin Prado (855) runs in the Central Park Invitational on Oct. 2 in Huntington Beach.
Fountain Valley’s Benjamin Prado (855) runs in the Central Park Invitational on Oct. 2 in Huntington Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Rinse, run, repeat.

After sweeping the team league titles following the Huntington Beach Union High School District dual meet circuit during the pandemic-delayed spring season, the Fountain Valley cross-country teams competed for league titles again in a more traditional season — and both were victorious.

Junior Benjamin Prado crossed the finish line in 15 minutes 20.6 seconds, besting the field by six seconds, to lead Fountain Valley over Huntington Beach 24-44 for the Wave League boys’ title.

Huntington Beach senior Nolan Walt was second in 15:26.3, but with five runners in the top 10, the Barons convincingly reclaimed their throne.

“We wanted to get first as a team, of course, just because of bragging rights, because the matchup between H.B. and us has been a big rivalry this past year,” Prado said. “Came out in first. Happy about that.”

Despite resting ace Kaho Cichon (quad tightness), the Fountain Valley girls still managed to edge Los Alamitos 39-44 for the Surf League crown.

Top-five showings by senior Samantha Martinez (third, 18:47.3) and junior Evelyn To (fourth, 19:10.6) helped key the repeat performance for the Barons.

Laguna Beach senior Melanie Falkowski was the Surf League girls’ individual champion, outrunning her competitors from the league by 26 seconds.

The Sunset Conference finals featured combined varsity races incorporating all eight schools from the conference, so within the same race, the Huntington Beach girls were looking to make some history of their own.

Sophomore Makenzie McRae was first overall on the girls’ side with a time of 17:49.8, leading Huntington Beach over Marina 25-50 for the Wave League championship. Huntington Beach coach Kareen Shackelford said it marked the first league championship for the program since 1988.

Seniors Quinn Roldan (third, 18:03.8) and Claire Lewis (fourth, 18:09.4), junior Luna Centeno (eighth, 19:27.8), and sophomores Andrea Linggi-Perez (ninth, 19:36.9) and Belle Baker (10th, 19:40.9) finished among the top 10 for the Oilers.

“Claire and Quinn’s sophomore year … it was a second-place finish [in league] but the first time the program for girls had been to CIF in 30 years, so then to find out this is now the first league title in 33 years, it was just magical,” Shackelford said. “I was so proud of them. All the coaching staff, I’m so proud of them.”

Sophomore Melisse Djomby-Enyawe was the runner-up in 17:51.4, continuing her breakout season for Corona del Mar.

“I just go into every race trying to beat the person in front of me, or if I have a certain team that kind of motivates me to beat them, then I just push,” Djomby-Enyawe said. “At the end, I just give it my all.”

The Newport Harbor boys’ team was in a frenzy when they saw the race results come in on their phones. Newport Harbor defeated Edison 43-49 for the Surf League title. The Sailors won their first league championship since 2016.

“We were hoping for this, but we for sure were not expecting it,” said Newport Harbor junior Kenny Wanlass, who earned Surf League individual champion honors with a time of 15:34.2. “I don’t think anyone else was expecting it.”

“We did the math on the theoretical lead with everyone’s [personal records], and it was like a five-point difference between first and last,” Wanlass added. “It was so close, but I think a lot of other teams, they counted us out.”

In four-team leagues like the Surf League and the Wave League, the top two teams advance to the CIF Southern Section preliminaries.

A team can also advance if it appears twice in the last four sets of rankings released by the section.

BOYS’ CROSS-COUNTRY

At Central Park, Huntington Beach

Three-mile course

Q - Denotes individual qualifier

Surf League Finals

Team Results

1. Newport Harbor 43; 2. Edison 49; 3. Los Alamitos 50; 4. Laguna Beach 92

Individuals

1. Wanlass (Newport Harbor) 15:34.2; 2. Metis (Laguna Beach) 15:43.0; 3. Kelly (Edison) 15:48.4; 4. Mastick (Los Alamitos) 16:05.8Q; 5. Grunburg (Newport Harbor) 16:08.8; 6. Fowler (Edison) 16:10.1; 7. Cleugh (Edison) 16:13.9; 8. Rosete (Newport Harbor) 16:16.6; 9. Herrera (Newport Harbor) 16:19.2; 10. Sandoval (Los Alamitos) 16:19.8Q

Wave League

Team Results

1. Fountain Valley 24; 2. Huntington Beach 44; 3. Corona del Mar 68; 4. Marina 82

Individuals

1. Prado (Fountain Valley) 15:20.6; 2. Walt (Huntington Beach) 15:26.3; 3. Hill (Fountain Valley) 15:47.4; 4. McQuirk (Huntington Beach) 15:48.1; 5. Dias (Fountain Valley) 16:01.0; 6. Alonso (Fountain Valley) 16:03.7; 7. Beaumont (Marina) 16:13.2Q; 8. Choe (Corona del Mar) 16:38.5Q; 9. D’Ambrosio (Fountain Valley) 16:40.5; 10. Mahmood (Corona del Mar) 16:41.0Q

GIRLS’ CROSS-COUNTRY

At Central Park, Huntington Beach

Three-mile course

Q - Denotes individual qualifier

Surf League Finals

Team Results

1. Fountain Valley 39; 2. Los Alamitos 44; 3. Newport Harbor 66; 4. Laguna Beach 70

Individuals

1. Falkowski (Laguna Beach) 18:16.9; 2. McQuillen (Los Alamitos) 18:42.7; 3. Martinez (Fountain Valley) 18:47.3; 4. To (Fountain Valley) 19:10.6; 5. Muniz (Los Alamitos) 19:14.3; 6. Robar (Newport Harbor) 19:15.2Q; 7. Smialowicz (Laguna Beach) 19:15.4; 8. Scheumann (Newport Harbor) 19:15.6Q; 9. Ferris (Fountain Valley) 19:15.6; 10. Tallas (Fountain Valley) 19:16.3

Wave League

Team Results

1. Huntington Beach 25; 2. Marina 50; 3. Corona del Mar 54; 4. Edison 111

Individuals

1. McRae (Huntington Beach) 17:49.8; 2. Djomby-Enyawe (Corona del Mar) 17:51.4; 3. Roldan (Huntington Beach) 18:03.8; 4. Lewis (Huntington Beach) 18:09.4; 5. Murray (Marina) 18:42.6; 6. Lomon (Marina) 18:58.9; 7. Rosing (Corona del Mar) 19:05.4; 8. Centeno (Huntington Beach) 19:27.8; 9. Linggi-Perez (Huntington Beach) 19:36.9; 10. Baker (Huntington Beach) 19:40.9

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