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Laguna running machine

Breakers' cross-country teams have earned success this season and look to keep it going Saturday at Mt. SAC.

November 14, 2013|By Mike Sciacca
(KEVIN CHANG / Coastline…)

Since the cross-country season began in September, the Laguna Beach High boys' and girls' teams have been eyeing a particular date that was still two months down the road: the CIF Southern Section Cross-Country Championships divisional preliminaries.

That meet is the first step in what all teams hope is a three-step finish to the 2013 season. The prelims are a stepping stone to the impending CIF Southern Section finals meet. That finals meet, is where teams find out if they reach the season's finish line in Fresno, the CIF State Championships, at the end of the month.

The divisional prelims are Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut. Both Laguna teams are competing in Division 4.

"We're excited to get out there and compete," said Laguna girls' coach Steve Lalim, whose team is ranked No. 1 in Division 4. "We've been preparing all season for this. It's been a great season so far. It's going to be a fun ride."

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Boys' Coach Scott Wittkop agrees.

"The most important thing this late in the season, is to be healthy and fresh and I think that we are both," he said.

Both Laguna teams head into Saturday's prelims having won Orange Coast League championships Oct. 30 in their last performances of the regular season. The Laguna girls have won the league title two-straight years, and in six of the last seven years.

At the OCL Championships, junior Natalie Kimball (18 minutes, 19.32 seconds) won the varsity girls' race and paced six Breakers who finished in the top 10. Second place was taken by teammate and junior Brenna Merchant (18:23.29). Freshman Kirsten Landseidel (18:36.07) was fourth, junior Janie Crawford (18:38.57) fifth, Pearl Shoemaker (19:19.24) ninth, and sophomore Taylor Alvarez (19:22.16) took the 10th spot.

"Our team is so deep and the girls all work really well together and work very hard," Lalim said. "Natalie [Kimball] has been progressing well throughout the year and she was ready to break out a great race.

"This whole season, our No. 1 runner has varied. This [OCL] race, it was Natalie. They all ran great, [and] Natalie came out the winner."

The girls' team has ascended to the No. 1-ranking in Division 4, having done so without running its top seven runners together at a single invite.

Lalim said his top seven will run at CIF finals Nov. 23.

"The girls have really run well all season," he said. "Our focus throughout has been working hard and staying healthy. So far, so good."

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