League Finals Recap (Finally...)
To kick things off, the Girls’ team headed to Yorba Regional on Tuesday, November 3rd to take on the likes of Villa Park, El Modena, and El Dorado.
As per the League Meet structure, the first race up was the Junior Varsity level. In many things in life, there is a such thing as a “perfect score”. On the SAT, 2400 reigns supreme; on the ACT, 35 is the lucky number; in Cross Country the pinnacle of team scoring is 15 points. Because of the shear number of athletes in each race, scoring 15 points is an incredibly difficult feat. Vivian Kim, Ariel Williams, Kayla Libed, Kaitlyn Garcia, and Lauren Blake worked as a cohesive unit and defied these odds. The Wildcats grabbed the top 5 positions in the race, and started the day off with 3 athletes breaking the 20 minute mark and 2 others dipping below the 21 minute mark. What an amazing start of League Finals!
The domination continued into the next Frosh-Soph level. Many times, a key indicator of the future of a program is found in the young talent of the freshman and sophomore classes. If this holds true, the Girls’ program has an incredibly bright future. Nearly following in the footsteps of the JV team, the Wildcats scored 21 points to eclipse the Villa Park Spartans’ 47 points. Bella Garner (19:51), Sydney Aston (20:33), Catherine Grattan (20:49), Lara Makki (21:46), and Christina Grattan (22:08) led the Frosh-Soph team to their decisive win and numerous PRs. Nicely done, ladies!
To finish off the day’s competition, the Girls’ Varsity race followed the trend of the preceding races: Brea’s domination. Kylee Grubbs nabbed both a huge PR and a 3rd place finish with a time of 17:52. Following in Grubbs’ wake, Sophy Tsabadze (17:55) and Carly Halm (17:57) broke the 18 minute barrier for the first time and nabbed the 4th and 5th places in the process. rounding out the Brea top 5, Hannah Bachelor and Meredith Lehman ran impressive time and placed 9th and 10th. At the varsity level, the top ten athletes in each race receive All-League recognition, and Brea was fortunate enough to grab five of these prestigious honors. This huge day for the Wildcats is put into perspective by the fact that the 5th finisher on the varsity squad actually ran faster than the 2nd Brea athlete from last year’s League Champion squad. Additionally, at Yorba Regional Park only 4 girls from Brea had ever gone under the 18 minute mark—EVER—and this year’s team managed to have three runners to it on the same day. An AMAZING performance, and great indicator of exactly how much work these athletes have put in over the year! The Road to State is coming closer and closer to its climax…
On Wednesday, Crestview League finals kicked off for the Boys’ squad. The Junior Varsity team showed up in brilliant color to grab a second place finish to neighboring powerhouse, Canyon. Drew Apahidean ran a PR of 16:06 with a huge kick to secure a 3rd place finish. Ricky Libed was quite literally on Drew’s heels , and ran 16:08 in a 5th place effort. JD Stendahl and Oscar Ramirez finished 7th and 8th, respectively, while Joe Bianchi rounded out the top 5 for Brea with a 16:35 finish. The team scoring was extremely close, and Canyon barely edged the Wildcats with a 22-34 margin. An incredible effort for all of the Brea athletes
The Frosh race saw a similar color scheme at the award ceremony, as the Brea Olinda Wildcats and Canyon Comanches nabbed all of the top positions in the race. Freshman Nolan Orozco ran a very smart race, and finished 5th overall with a time of 16:45. Following in toe behind Nolan, Adan Villanueva and Tommy Valenti placed 9th and 10th in the race with 17:01 and 17:04 efforts, respectively. Michael Perez and Jacob Woody rounded out the Top 5 for Brea with respective finishes of 18th and 20th place. Brea secured a second place team finish to the Comanches. Nicely done, boys!
As the League Finals concluded, the star-studded duel between Canyon and Brea continued. Austin Tamagno kept his undefeated streak for the season intact with a 14:03 victory over Canyon’s Dylan Scarsone. Canyon nabbed the next three positions with huge days from Scarsone, Lamberth, and Tanner. In most circumstances, this would be enough to win a small meet structure such as the one that the Crestview League utilizes, but the defending State Champion Wildcats kept their composure. Gio Orellana led Joe Tobin, Kevin McNulty, Daniel Perez and Jon Tobin to positions 5 thru 9. John Dempsey finished in 15:31, and claimed 12th place. This would prove to be enough to defeat the Comanches by a margin of 27-30. Just like the Girls’ team before them, the Brea Boys boasted huge PRs nearly across the board. Brea’s 7th man on the day ran a comparable time to last year’s 5th man, and suggests that a similar level of success is on the horizon for this year’s squad. An amazing race, and an amazing victory in one of the nation’s toughest League Championships. Nicely done!
And with League Finals concluded, a huge congratulations to all the athletes that participated this year is in order. All of the hard work over the summer, all of the double days, all of the scorching hot runs, all of the early mornings, and all of the comradery has paid off for the Wildcat athletes.
As many athletes undertake their ‘two week break’ and the Varsity squads move onto CIF Prelims, Finals, and State Championships it would seem that the sentiment put forward in John L Parker’s cult-classic “Once a Runner” is incredibly pertinent : “You don't become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many day, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”
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