HALEY SEWARD (EDISON, SR.)
Outlook: Capistrano Valley, which has consistently been on the doorstep of becoming one of the county’s best teams, broke through this season and will be making its first ever state meet appearance. The Cougars finished third at the CIF-SS Division 1 finals, best among the six county schools that competed. Defending state champion San Clemente was fourth, 21 points behind its South Coast League rival. Both the Cougars and Tritons, who have been effective at pack running this season, had a 42-second scoring gap between scoring runners should once again employ that strategy in the hopes of landing on the podium. Sunset League champion Marina (third at the state meet last season) was sixth last week. Senior Kylie Nishisaka placed sixth and had the best time of all county runners in the division. Chargers senior Haley Seward has been hindered by injuries throughout the early portion of the season, but has come on strong in the last few weeks. She was ninth at the CIF-SS Finals and had the fourth best overall time of all county runners. All eyes will be on the highly anticipated team title battle between fellow Southern Section powers Great Oak and Simi Valley, who finished first and second at the CIF-SS Finals. Simi Valley junior Sarah Baxter, perhaps the nation’s best high school runner, is considered an overwhelming favorite to win her third individual state title in as many years.
PAIGE TENNISON (NEWPORT HARBOR, SR.)
Outlook: After a couple of seasons in which their performance trailed off later in the season, Tesoro has reversed that trend this season and enters the Division 2 finals brimming with confidence after a second place finish in last week’s CIF-SS finals. The Titans, led by freshman standout Amanda Gehrich and senior Emily Scharmann, had four runners score in the top 50 of perhaps the Southern Section’s toughest division to finish behind perennial power Saugus. The Centurions are seeking to win their CIF record seventh straight state title and tie Corona del Mar for second on the all-time title list. Though the Century League champion Comanches grabbed the final qualifying spot, they have been extremely steady throughout the season and should be in the mix for competing for a spot on the podium. The individual title battle will feature Tennison, who claimed the title at the CIF-SS finals last week and had the second fastest time of all runners in the meet behind Baxter. Tennison was sixth in last year’s state Division 2 final.
Outlook: A trio of county teams should be in the mix for potential podium finishes. The Timberwolves are coming off a stellar performance in last week’s CIF-SS Finals that saw them place five scoring runners in the top 40 and finish second to champion Bonita. Junior Bethan Knights led Northwood with a second place individual finish and will also be one of the individual state title favorites. Sea View League champion Laguna Hills has also enjoyed a stellar season and earned a state meet appearance by finishing fourth at the CIF-SS finals. Senior Alana Jones was seventh in that race and is also an individual title hopeful. Santa Margarita, which finished second in the Trinity League this season, scored four runners in the top 45 last week and finished fifth. The Eagles were sixth in Division 3 at last year’s state meet.
Outlook: The Lions enter the meet looking to write their names in the county record books as the only team to win three straight state titles. They are 2 for 2 in three-peat opportunities this season, winning their third straight Trinity League and CIF-SS Division 4 titles. JSerra had three runners place in the top 10 at last week’s CIF-SS finals to edge second place Mayfield by 11 points. The Lions could also get a boost with the return of junior Hannah Hunsaker, who missed last week with a foot injury, but is expected to try and compete Saturday. Mayfield and San Lorenzo Valley are expected to be among JSerra’s top competitors. Crean Lutheran, making its first ever state meet title appearance, is also a potential podium candidate. Saints sophomore Lauren Maurer was second at the CIF-SS finals and has enjoyed a stellar effort in her first cross country season. She should be in the individual title hunt.
No county teams or individuals qualified.