The graduation of two-time State runner-up Matt Neev brought to an end a storybook run for Laguna Beach High School’s cross-country runners, but new saga has already started to unfold.
The CIF fourth ranked Breakers made a strong showing during last weekend’s Fastback Shootout at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.
The 1.9-mile event is broken down by grade level and school size, with two heats for each grade, one for large schools and one for small schools. Laguna runners placed three among the top 25 small-school seniors and two among the top 23 small-school juniors. Together, the five fastest Breakers finished in the top 52 out of 438 small school runners from all grades.
Senior Jeff White was Laguna’s top performer with a time of 10:10.64, the second best mark in his heat and 18th overall out of 904 competitors from both large and small schools combined. Other top times were turned in by junior John Kimball (10:52:82), senior Ryan Jones (11:02.37), junior Kevin Tovar (11:03:40), senior Tyler Nichols (11:12.98), and juniors Jack Crawford (11:14.51) and Loic Corbiere (11:15.53).
After missing a trip to State finals last season for the first time in seven years, the young girls team is looking to get back on track. “From top to bottom, I feel it was the best start to a season that I’ve ever coached,” said head coach Steve Lalim.
The freshmen took first place team honors with a top five of Livie Clark (13:28.13, 8th), Carlee Ressler (13:34.73, 11th), Janie Crawford (13:43.44, 14th), Brenna Merchant (14:04.81, 17th) and Victoria Gunnell (14:53.08, 37th).
Kayla Baskevitch took 10th in the sophomore race with a time of 13:17.69 to lead the Breakers to a second place finish. Eliza Romero, Eliza (13:27.47, 14th) was next, followed by Monica White (13:55.78, 23rd), Anya Miller (13:59.20, 25th) and Audrey Rodriquez (14:07.91, 28th).
Senior Marisa Merchant’s 13:03.25 was the best time by a Breaker and earned her a 10th place finish overall in her heat. Fellow senior Natasha Strickland did not compete.
At the Laguna Hills Invitational last Saturday at Laguna Hills High, Veda Rebollar (18:24.96, 35th) and Casey Koprowski (18:28.33, 37th) led the sophomores to an eighth place finish. Grant Barton recorded a time of 19:01.97 to finish 17th in the freshman race.
The boys and girls varsity will be in Waikiki next Wednesday for the ‘Iolani Invitational. The frosh/soph and JV teams will compete at the Woodbridge Invitational next Saturday at Woodbridge High School.