Capo Valley’s Haley Herberg leads the pack during the CIF-SS Cross Country Finals in Riverside on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)
By ZACH CAVANAGH |
November 18, 2017 at 10:14 pm
Capo Valley’s Haley Herberg a few yards from the finish line during the CIF-SS Cross Country Finals in Riverside on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)
RIVERSIDE – Gold was the color of the day for Orange County’s cross country girls at the CIF-SS Finals.
Haley Herberg of black-and-gold Capistrano Valley topped her career with the Division 2 individual gold while brown-and-gold Laguna Hills captured its first team championship in 25 years in Division 3 Saturday at the Riverside City Cross Country Course.
Herberg, back-to-back O.C. champion, is one of the most accomplished runners in county history, but the CIF-SS title had eluded her.
The senior had some close competition in Saugus’ Mariah Castillo but still burned the course to win the title at 16:20.
“It feels really great,” Herberg said. “It’s my second-to-last high school race, unless nationals. I just really wanted to leave everything on the course. I’m really happy with how it went.”
Herberg’s time, the fastest girls time on the day, set the Division 2 course record and is the second-fastest time in course history.
“This is definitely a confidence boost,” said Herberg, who has signed with Oklahoma. “I feel like last week (in a victory at preliminaries) I didn’t give it 100 percent. So this week to just really go out race, get those gears turning again. It felt really good.”
Capo Valley finished third as a team and qualified for the CIF State meet.
Canyon and Mission Viejo qualified in Division 2.
Canyon’s Sara Leonard (16:59) finished third, and Mission Viejo’s Kelli Hines (17:10) took fourth.
In Division 3, Laguna Hills won its first CIF-SS championship since the Hawks went back-to-back in 1991-92 by placing four runners in the top 20.
“Twenty-five years is a long time,” Laguna Hills coach Chris Lynch said, “but definitely worth the wait.”
Laguna Hills dealt with injuries and busy schedules all season but showed its strength in the biggest moment.
“This is the deepest team in 40 years of Hawk cross country,” Lynch said. “ I’ve had a rotating lineup for two months, and today we finally put all the pieces together.”
Maya Williams (18:44) and Lauren Turner (18:45) paced Laguna Hills in 11th and 12th.
“What you saw out there today was love,” Lynch said. “They were running for each other. It sounds corny, but it’s true.”
El Dorado’s Lucina Vincent (17:58) finished third in Division 3 to qualify as an individual. Esperanza, Corona del Mar, Brea Olinda’s Whitney Valenti, Century’s Samantha Lopez and Bolsa Grande’s Laina Kanuho also qualified for state.
St. Margaret’s girls took the runner-up plaque in Division 5 as Andy Carnell (18:00) led the Tartans in third. Sage Hill also qualified in third.
In Division 1, El Toro and Dana Hills qualified for state. Dana Hills held on in the seventh position.
In Division 4, Diane Molina of Costa Mesa battled through sickness and a mid-race sore hamstring to qualify as an individual in fifth place, even if she didn’t realize it at first.
“Did I? I didn’t even see,” Molina said. “Oh, OK! I’m great!”
JSerra, Laguna Beach and Orange Lutheran’s Sophie Gutierrez all qualified in Division 4.