A challenging start to the 2012 season could set up the Laguna Beach High boys' cross-country team for big things down the road.
Coach Scott Wittkop's squad has seven runners returning from last year's team that finished second at the Hawaiian Invitational, third at the Dana Hills Invitational, second in the Orange Coast League standings and finished 14th out of 16 teams at the CIF Southern Section Division IV final at Mt. San Antonio College. One of the top runners from last year's team, Jeff White, graduated in June.
Among the returnees is junior Veda Rebollar, who is the reigning boys' 3,200 meters champion in the Orange Coast League, and sophomore Grant Barton, who Wittkop said was "one of the top" freshmen runners last year in CIF Division IV.
"Our preseason is set up to get us ready for the important meets at the end of the year," Wittkop said. "Woodbridge, Mt. SAC, Clovis and the Stanford Invite will have us going up against the best teams in state.