Cross Country: Breakers among elite at state meet

A season-long goal came to fruition Saturday for the Laguna Beach High girls' and boys' cross-country teams.

The Breakers had set their sights on reaching the CIF State Championships in Fresno, and both teams achieved that goal. Both, also, wanted to make the podium, a spot reserved for the top-finishing teams in each division at State.

The Breakers can put a check mark in that box, as well.

Both Laguna teams ran to a runner-up State finish in the Division 4 final, each earning second place and a coveted trophy presentation spot on the podium at Woodward Park. The Laguna girls finished second behind San Lorenzo Valley. The Laguna boys' team was only behind Yreka.

Both teams were the top-placing CIF Southern Section teams at State.

The top three teams in both the girls' and boys' race made the podium Saturday.


Saturday marked the first time the girls team had reached the podium at the State meet, Coach Steve Lalim said.

"The team set two goals coming into the season," he said. "One, qualify to State. Two, podium. We achieved both goals. It was a very successful season, one I will never forget. Thanks, girls."

Laguna turned in a total team time of 1 hour, 39 minutes, 46 seconds, and finished with 189 points. San Lorenzo Valley took the division title with a team time of 1:34.13 and had a low-best 86 points. Junior Breanna Merchant was the top finisher for Laguna with a time of 19:29, good for 33rd. Following Merchant were juniors Natalie Kimball (19:37, 38th) and Janie Crawford (19:53, 51st), freshman Kirsten Landseidel (20:21, 74th), senior Eliza Romero (20:26, 78th), sophomore Pearl Shoemaker (20:31, 84th), and freshman Greer Jacobs (20:45, 101st).

"It was a great day," Lalim said of Saturday's final. "The girls really ran well and put themselves into a position to be successful. We knew going in we had a shot at the podium, but had to run strong to do it. The girls did everything they could, and achieved our season long goal of getting on the podium. I'm super proud of the girls for their accomplishments. They've earned it.

"We train hard all year to put ourselves in a position to be successful at the end of the year when we reach the championship season. Hard work pays off."

•Final State Division 4 girls' team standings: 1. San Lorenzo Valley; 2. Laguna Beach; 3. Big Bear; 4. Piedmont; 5. JSerra; 6. Harvard-Westlake; 7. La Reina; 8. Arcata; 9. West Valley; 10. St. Mary's College; 11. Nipomo; 12. Coronado; 13. Francis Parker; 14. Half Moon Bay; 15. Oaks Christian; 16. Greenfield; 17. Scotts Valley; 18. Riverbank; 19. Amador; 20. Valley Center; 21. Yreka; 22. Exeter; 23. Port of LA; 24. Kerman.


The Laguna boys' program reached the podium for the first time since 2009 with a strong team effort led by junior Cameron Zuziak's run of 16:17.

The Breakers had a team time of 1:23.30, and had 148 points. Yreka won the division with a team time of 1:22.06, and 102 points.

"I think that it was a great accomplishment for our squad," Coach Scott Wittkop said. "They preformed well, they got out fast and ran hard.

"Our program (girls and boys) was the No. 1 program in the state (Division 4). It just shows how hard our girls and boys work."

In addition to Zuziak's time, which was good for 16th place, other times for the Breakers were: senior Casey Koprowski (16:37, 34th), senior Veda Rebollar (16:47, 50th), sophomore Drake Butler (16:49, 57th), sophomore Mason Pitz (17:00, 68th), junior Grant Barton (17:28, 104th), and senior Ian Ring (17:54, 143rd).

"Our team motto this year was 'success,' and that being defined as always working to your potential," Wittkop said. "They did that all season long and the results were just a byproduct of all the hard work."

•Final State Division 4 boys' team standings: 1. Yreka; 2. Laguna Beach; 3. Salesian; 4. Xavier Prep; 5. Scotts Valley; 6. Valley Center; 7. Seaside; 8. JSerra; 9. Half Moon Bay; 10. Santa Ynez; 11. Harvard-Westlake; 12. San Rafael; 13. Riverbank; 14. Christian Brothers; 15. Morro Bay; 16. Arcata; 17. Corcoran; 18. Piner; 19. St. Mary's College; 20. West Valley; 21. The Bishop's; 22. Mater Dei; 23. Rosamond.

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