The Corona del Mar High girls' and Sage Hill School boys' squads qualified for the state meet after strong finishes Saturday at the CIF Southern Section Cross-Country finals at Mt. San Antonio College.
The Sea Kings' 190 points were good enough fifth place in Division 3, just making the top-seven cutoff to race at Fresno's venerable Woodward Park next week. The Lightning also finished fifth in Division V with 176 points.
Senior Ashlee Powers led the way for CdM, finishing fifth with a time of 18 minutes, 17 seconds. Despite her high finish, Powers was disappointed with her race.
"It just wasn't there," she said. "I have a week to make up for it … the first hill, that's when I tried to go."
Fellow senior Kristen Rivera came up with a stellar time in her 14th-place result (18:42). Palos Verdes' Rebecca Mehra won the race (17:23) and teammate Cassidy Webber finished ninth (18:34)
"Ashlee and I were going after Palos Verdes' one and two (runners)," Rivera said. "Everyone knew who they had to beat. Everyone else went after the Northwood runners. Most of us didn't do our jobs. We were shooting for them."
Ellen Naruse (43rd, 19:36), Shelby Perez (66th, 20:09) and Kirsten Hansen (71st, 20:15) rounded out the top five for CdM, with Miranda Stiver (73rd, 20:18) coming in a close sixth.
"I'd like to do better," Corona del Mar Coach Bill Sumner said.
Newport Harbor came close to qualifying for the state meet but finished 11th in the Division 2 girls' race with 272 points.
However, junior Paige Tennison came through again with a strong third-place finish to qualify as an individual (17:15). Simi Valley's Sarah Baxter, considered one of the best sophomores in California, won the race (16:44) and senior Karis Frankian of Saugus finished second (17:06).
"I really like the downhill," Tennison said. "That's my strong suit. I try to attack it. I'm really excited to run against all of these runners at CIF. I want to do a lot of speed training for state next week, because I love the feeling of flying down the course."
Unfortunately, Tennison's teammates could not join her. Maggie Goodson (59th, 19:05), Leah Van Dyke (62nd, 19:09), Ashley Ima (83rd, 19:42) and Katelyn Mead (93rd, 19:51) rounded out the Sailors' top five.
"We knew it was going to be really tough," Newport Harbor girls' Coach Eric Tweit said. "I thought we did really well. It was a real positive."
For Sage Hill's boys' squad, Saturday's appearance at the state meet will be the program's third. The Lightning finished 12th in 2005 and eighth in 2007, and are hoping for another top-10 finish this year.
"I thought we'd be fourth, fifth or sixth," said Sage Hill boys' Coach Nate Miller of the Southern Section final. "I thought we'd perform really well. Brennan Hicks, our fourth-place runner, battled illness and he ran well. We had a good spread of 45 seconds. The guys worked well. I think it's realistic for us to shoot for the top 10."
Dylan Thies led the Lightning with a 25th-place finish (16:32). Rounding out the Lightning top five were Chris Andras (32nd, 16:42), Jack Percival (35th, 16:46), Ryan Fishel (54th, 17:13) and Hicks (55th, 17:17).
The Lightning girls' squad finished 10th with 230 points, just 25 points off from seventh-place Linfield Christian.
Junior Sophia Witte bounced back from a slight illness at last week's prelims to finish 31st (20:34). Senior Naomi Granados (38th, 20:57), freshman Brittany Andressoo (40th, 21:04), Lili Mora (65th, 21:38) and Caroline Grant (98th, 23:02) also competed for Sage Hill.