Breakers go for a high five

There has not been a shortage of accolades bestowed on the Laguna Beach High girls' cross-country program in the past decade.

During Steve Lalim's four years as head coach, Laguna has won four Orange Coast League championships. In 2011, the Breakers look as though they are favorites to make it five straight with the return of two all-league performers, including two-time defending league champion Natasha Strickland.

Laguna ended the 2010 season with a 12th-place finish in the CIF State Division 4 Championships. Lalim said there was a "a little disappointment" with last year's finish, but that he is "looking forward to a great 2011season."

Laguna begins its season Sept. 10 in Walnut at the Mt. SAC Fastback Shootout.

Below is a capsule look at the 2011 Breakers:


Head coach: Steve Lalim (fourth year; eight year overall in program)

Coaching staff: Carista Strickland (assistant); Mike Berger (assistant)

2010 league result: Orange Coast League champion (undefeated)

2010 all-league performers: Natasha Strickland (two-time OCL champion); Grace Clark (all-league)

2010 season finish: 12th-place in Division 4 at CIF State Cross-Country Championships

Returning varsity runners: Natasha Strickland; Marisa Merchant; Grace Clark; Audrey Rodriguez.

Varsity newcomers to watch: Carlee Ressler; Livie Clark; Brielle Budroe; Eliza Romero; Janie Crawford; Anya Miller; Kay Baskevitch.

Coach's outlook: "I expect us to do very well," Lalim said. "We have a young group who all have set high goals. They are a very tight group who have a great work ethic, great attitude and a competitiveness like no other team I've coached. I like our chances this year. It's gonna be fun."

Breaker laurels: Laguna has won four straight league titles, finished fourth at the State meet in 2007 and fifth at State in 2009.

Clean slate: "We start with Fastback Shootout…a little glimpse of Mt. SAC," Lalim said of the Sept. 10 season opener, which also is the site of two other big races for the Breakers: the Oct. 22 Mt. SAC Invitational and the CIF prelims and finals in November. "It (season opener) is only a two-mile race, but should be a good indicator of where we stand."


2011 Schedule

Sept. 10: at Mt. SAC Fastback Shootout (TBA)

Sept. 17: at Iolani (Hawaii) Cross-Country Invitational (TBA)

Sept. 29: Orange Coast League "Cluster" (TBA)

(at Centennial Regional Park, Santa Ana)

Oct. 1: at Saints Small Schools Invitational (TBA)

Oct. 8: at Clovis Invitational (TBA)

Oct. 15: at Orange Coast Championships (TBA)

Oct. 22: at Mt. SAC Invitational (TBA)

Nov. 2: Orange Coast League finals

(at Centennial Regional Park, Santa Ana)

Nov.: CIF Prelims, Finals (at Mt. SAC); CIF State Meet (Woodward Park, Fresno)

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