JUAN GONZALEZ (EL TORO, SR.)
JEFF THIES (EDISON, SR.)
Outlook: Trabuco Hills, the defending Division 1 champion, has put together two straight solid performances leading up to the state meet. The Mustangs were third at last week’ CIF-SS finals, seven points behind second place Vista Murrieta. Senior Noaki Omatsu was fourth, as all five scoring runners finished in the top 50. Dana Hills claimed the final automatic qualifying spot, 11 points better than fellow South Coast League rival El Toro. The Dolphins had four scoring runners in the top 50, led by freshman Jake Ogden. Southern Section stalwart Arcadia, which won the CIF-SS title, boasts a formidable lineup and is a favorite to bring home their second title in three years. In the individual title competition Gonzalez (the CIF-SS champion) will look to become the first El Toro runner to win a state title since former star Brandon Bethke claimed the honor in 2004. Thies, the Sunset League champion, was eighth at the CIF-SS Finals, and should challenge for a top-15 placing. The Arcadia duo of Estevan De La Rosa and Mitchell Pratt were both in the top five at the CIF-SS finals and should also be in competition for the individual title. Pratt is the only runner to defeat Gonzalez this season, with a head to head win at the season-opening Laguna Hills Invitational.
GARRETT CORCORAN (VILLA PARK, JR.)
AUSTIN GOINS (CANYON, SR.)
JOSE PENALOZA (GODINEZ, SR.)
Outlook: The Division 2 finals features a trio of the county’s elite runners this season that should be in the mix for an individual title. Canyon senior Austin Goins and Villa Park junior Garrett Corcoran continued their season-long battle at the CIF-SS finals, as both runners stepped across the finish line with an official time 14:08. Goins was credited with a second place finish, with Corcoran placing third. Both runners will be making their first ever state final appearance. Penaloza was fifth last week in a time of 14:15 and finished ninth in Division 2 at last year’s state final. Dos Pueblos senior Bryan Fernandez (14:06) edged Goins and Corcoran to win the Southern Section title and is undefeated this season.
GILBERT SOLORZA (BUENA PARK, SR.)
GABRIEL MARASIGAN (SANTA MARGARITA, SR.)
MICHAEL HULME (MATER DEI, SO.)
Outlook: The Wildcats are the lone county representative in the division after placing second at the CIF-SS finals to champion Palos Verdes. The five time defending Century League champions had two runners in the top 10, led by junior Brennon Koryta, who was seventh. Freshman standout Austin Tamagno was slowed by illness, but still managed to place 10th and was the top freshman in the division. Solorza, the Freeway League champion, has been one of the county’s most improved runners this season and has enjoyed a stellar CIF run. He had the best Division 3 qualifying time in prelims and was third in last week’s finals. Marasigan and Hulme, two of the Trinity League’s top runners, were among three other runners that qualified for the state meet with top-15 finishes last week. St. John Bosco senior Myles Smith, the Trinity League individual champion is undefeated this season and is a leading individual title favorite.
Outlook: The Saints are making their CIF state meet debut, coming off a stellar season. Crean Lutheran finished 10th in the sweepstakes race at the Orange County Championships and was a narrow second to St. Margaret’s in the Academy League. The Saints have elevated their performance during CIF and enter the state meet coming off a second place finish at the CIF-SS finals. Crean Lutheran was the only school in last week’s race to have three runners score in the top 11, led by sophomore Sean Pino and senior Michael Sciarra, who were fourth and seventh respectively. Closing their scoring gap in the middle will be the key in the Saints’ effort for a spot on the podium. Salesian High of Los Angeles (second in Division 4 last season) won the CIF-SS finals title last week behind a 30-second scoring gap between their first and fifth scoring runners.
Outlook: The Tartans are on the doorstep of history, as they will look to become only the county’s second team ever to win three straight CIF state titles. St. Margaret’s will also look to join Woodcrest Christian as the only teams to win three straight CIF state titles in Division 5. The Tartans completed their second “three peat” quest in last week’s CIF-SS finals, as they edged chief sectional rival Flintridge Prep 15 points. Senior Brandon Price, who was edged at the finish line by Sherman Indian senior Isaiah Thompson, was fourth last season. The Tartans had four scoring runners in the top nine and the top overall team time. Their stiffest challenge is expected to come from North Coast Section champion St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda, who was third in last season’s state final.