Weekend Highlights: US#3 Saugus Girls Dominate, Manilafasha Rules in Colorado

Many of the top teams in the country competed this weekend, with a few squads showing that they have national championship abilities. Girls U.S.#3 Saugus (CA) kick-started their season with a record breaking performance in California, showing they'll give the top squads from New York quite the challenge this year.

Peoria Woodruff Inv. (IL) / NC State Wolfpack Inv. (NC) / Scottsdale Running Co. XC Festival (AZ) / Carrollton Invitational (GA) / Forest Park XC Festival (MO) / Augie Meet of Champions (SD) / Nike-Holly Inv. (MI) / Seaside Inv. (CA) / Liberty Bell Inv. (CO) / Carmel XC Classic (IN)

Weekend Highlights (9/12-9/14)

Peoria Woodruff Invitational (IL)

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A rain soaked day couldn't stop the Peoria Woodruff Invitational from taking place Saturday in Illinois. Despite nearly six inches of rain over eight hours, causing flooding and an ultra-muddy course, many of the top teams in Illinois still went to battle on the state meet course.

Geneva (IL) came up big in both the boys and girls AAA varsity races. Both squads took home the team titles, on the boys side it being an upset, while on the girls side it was expected but the way they accomplished their success put quite a statement out to the rest of the state and nation.

In the boys race Geneva defeated U.S. top ten team Neuqua Valley (IL) 78-96, keeping pace with Neuqua's strong top three, but putting twenty points on them with number four runner Kevin McDowell finishing in 18th. Geneva once again used a strong 1-5 split, this time it only being 45 seconds. Neuqua still looked strong with three in the top eight, they just need to shore up their backend runners. Illinois top ten team Dundee-Crown (IL) placed third with 157 points, while Fishers (IN) placed fourth with 222 points.

Individually, freshman Lukas Verzbicas (Fr., Lincoln-Way Central, IL) blew away the competition despite muddy and wet conditions. Verzbicas ran 15:13 over the three mile spread, besting runner-up Danny Pawola (Sr., Neuqua Valley, IL) by 21 seconds and third-placer Drew Shields (Sr., Fishers, IN) by 23 seconds. Both Pawola and Shields are ranked in the MileSplit Midwest Top 12 Individual Rankings. Andrew Nelson (Sr., Geneva, IL) finished first for Geneva in sixth place in 15:47.

The Geneva girls dominated their race as well, posting a large gap of 37-108 over Hinsdale Central (IL). Hinsdale is ranked IL#2, with Geneva being IL#1/US#10, thus leaving Geneva far and away the top team in the state currently. The squad placed their top five in the top eleven spots, with sophomore front runner Kelly Whitley winning the individual title in 18:38, one second over runner-up Megan O'Brien from Lockport Twp.

NC State Wolfpack Invitational (NC)

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A battle of two of the best in North Carolina insued Saturday at the NC State Wolfpack Invitational, which saw Taylor Gilland (Chapel Hill, NC) and Dakota Peachee (West Johnston, NC) go toe-to-toe against one another. In the end Gilland pulled away for a big victory, defeating Peachee 15:39-15:44.

In the boys varsity team race, Green Hope (NC) edged Broughton (NC) 100-105, using a split of just under a minute (59 seconds) to bring home the title. This is a big win for Green Hope in the state of North Carolina, marking them as one of the favorites the rest of the season.

Carolyn Baskir (East Chapel Hill, NC) pulled off an upset of sorts, defeating regionally ranked Adrianne Soo (Durham Academy, NC) in the girls varsity race. Baskir outdistanced Soo 18:26-18:46, easily winning the 5k race. Perhaps the most surprising results came from the lack of dominance up top by Mountain Brook's (AL) top runners. MB's front runner Madeline Morgan placed ninth, while Marie Demedicis placed 11th. Catherine Diethelm placed 22nd overall for the squad as well.

However, Mountain Brook was still strong enough to win the overall team title 54-136 over East Chapel Hill. Leslie Boozer led the way for the squad, coming up big with a fourth place effort. The U.S. #4 squad had an off day, which shows just how good they are, that they can still win by 82 points.

Scottsdale Running Co. XC Festival (AZ)

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By Margot Kelly (AZTrackXC.com)

Mesa Mountain View and Desert Vista boys seem to battle for the top spots in most of the races as Senior John Serfilipi from Desert Vista won the combined JV/Open Race in 17:37.6 with Sky Lofgron from Mesa Mountain view right on his heels taking 2nd in the race but first in the JV division in 17:38.7.

 
Catherine Fakler from Xavier College Prep took first in the JV/Open Race in 21:02.9 followed by teammate Christine Andreen in 21:04.5. Mesa Mountain View's Kristin Millward took fourth in the race but first in the Senior Division.
 
Led by Spencer Frame, all four Mesa Mountain View runners were in the top six (1, 4, 5, 6) in the Varsity Black race while all four Desert Vista runners were in the mix (2, 3, 7, 8) rounding out the top eight.

On the girls side, Xavier sophomore, Katie Penney (20:38.6) came down the final stretch of the girls Black race looking like she was running a 100 Meter race. Penney's strong kick widened the gab between herself and 2nd place runner Brittany Hoffman (20:55.3) from Mesa Mountain View. Mesa Mountain View's sixth runner came in third in the girls Black race and Xavier's sixth runner was in 7th.

The girls Gold Race was led by Junior Jessica Tonn (pictured right) from Xavier College Prep. Tonn's time of 17:52.3 was the only time under eighteen minutes and was 45 seconds faster than second place finisher, Cami Jackson (Sr) from Mesa Mountain View. "When I saw the finish line I ran as fast as I could," said third place finisher Sarah Penney who along with Daylee Burr (11th) and Megan Cannon (12th) helped Xavier College Prep take first in the meet with Mesa Mountain View coming in second. Click Here for Full Article

Carrollton Invitational (GA)

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U.S. ranked Collins Hill (GA) showed why they are considered one of the top teams in the country this season. In the girls varsity race the squad swept the top four spots, with their fifth placing sixth overall, scoring 16 points, well ahead of runner-up Alpharetta (GA) who scored 92.

Amanda Winslow (GA) led the way for her squad with a first place finish, running 18:48. Teammate Nicky Akande placed second in 18:52. Collins Hill averaged 19:06 for their top five, running a 43 second 1-5 split. The top seven all finished in the top 14 scoring positions as well.

On the boys side Brookwood (GA) beat Collins Hill (GA) 46-119. Marietta (GA) placed third with 123 points. Brookwood was most impressive in that they had a 46 second split 1-5. Charlie Sparks (Columbus, GA) won the overall title in 15:53, with Kirubel Erassa (Grayson, GA) finishing second in 15:58.

Forest Park XC Festival (MO)

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Not once, but twice, Kickapoo (MO) came up short Saturday at the Forest Park XC Festival in St. Louis, Missouri. Kickapoo finished second to team champion St. Louis University (MO) in the boys varsity competition, 87-159. In the girls race, Kickapoo fell to Jefferson City (MO), as both squads finished with 96 points, but Jefferson City being crowned champions off of their better sixth place finisher.

In the boys varsity green race, St. Louis University H.S. used a great effort from their top three trio of Austin Cookson, Caleb Ford and Cliff David, with Cookson leading the charge in seventh in the team scoring with a 16:27 finishing effort. Lacking a front runner didn't hurt St. Louis University, as the squad packed it up nicely.

Jacob Swearingen (Sr., Potosi, MO) won the overall individual title, outkicking Danny Thater (Jr., Kickapoo) 15:44-15:46, easily establishing themselves as the top two runners in the race with a mile to go.

Alyssa Allison (Sr., Festus, MO) also continued her dominating ways, crushing the girls field and winning by thirty seconds. Allison proved last spring that she would be a force this fall, dominating track meet after track meet. That sort of established running proved victorious this time around, crossing the finish line in 19:11.

The most dramatic scene came from the Jefferson City/Kickapoo clash, which came down to the sixth runner. Jefferson City's sixth runner, Hilary Weaver, came up big for her squad by placing 36th in the team scoring, eleven spots ahead of Kickapoo's sixth.

Augie Meet of Champions (SD)

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Another year of South Dakota running means another year of Yankton (SD) being in contention to win every single team title no matter where they race. At the Augie Meet of Champions Saturday, Yankton showed once again why they are the powerhouse team in the state. Despite lacking depth in the back end of each of their varsity squads, the team still took home two team titles.

Led by a 1-2 finish up top by Mariah Hofer and Megan Hilson, the Yankton girls defeated Stevens (SD) 41-62. Yankton ran incredibly well with their top four girls, all placing in the top nine, however, their fifth runner finished over a minute back from their fourth, leaving a giant hole to be filled come state and post-season racing.

The boys team was equally as dominant in the team scoring, taking home the title with 35 points. Finishing 2-5-7-9-12, Yankton easily beat the competition up top. With little room for error, Mitch Yaggie guided the squad with his fourth place finish (second in the team standings). Josh Heitkamp (SF Washington, SD) defeated Andy Coy (Hill City, SD) for the individual title, 17:42-17:50.

Nike/Holly Invitational (MI)

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While it wasn't the fastest performance of the day, it was certainly the most impressive. Shannon Osika (So., Waterford Mott, MI) continued her dominating season with a 19:56 victory in the Division I girls race, running away early and besting runner-up Anna Pasternak (So., Hartland, MI) by 46 seconds.

Osika's first place finish also helped guide her team to second overall in the team standings, finishing second to Howell (MI), 84-87. The top team performance came in Division III, which saw Lumen Christian (MI) beat the field with a 21:08 average, nearly a minute up on the next closest squad on the day. Cara Cremeans (Sr., Lumen Christian) led her team with a first place finished in 19:41, overtaking Hannah Brisson (Sr., Richmond, MI), who finished second in 19:49.

On the boys side, Michael Murphy (Sr., Brother Rice, MI) beat Jeff MacMillan 17:11-17:19 in one of the fastest times of the day. Murphy, who was a state champion in track and many considered the top runner this fall in Michigan, looked smooth and steady over the 5k course. The top time of the day came from Joe Maki (Luke M. Dowers Christian, MI), winning the boys DIII race in 16:58.

Seaside Invitational (CA)

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It wasn't a matter of if they would win, but rather how much they would win by. U.S. #3 Saugus (CA) came up victorious, but in a much grander fashion they perhaps imagined. Last fall Saugus was ranked one of the top girls teams in the country, showing that they would be tough in 2007, but perhaps even stronger in 2008, as they finished second at Nike Team Nationals and returned most of their squad this season.

On Friday evening at the Seaside Invitational, Saugus showed just how strong they will be this season, winning the team title with a combined team time of 87:33, crushing their 89:17 team time from last fall. With each grade running their own race, Saugus won three of the four races, with a top seven that all ran times between 17:06-18:00.

Freshman Karis Frankian won the freshmen race in 17:27, easily beating the field, while sophomore teammate and team leader Kaylin Mahoney won the sophomore race in record time, blitzing a 17:06, while sophomore teammate Stephanie Bulder finished second in 17:42.

In the junior race Amber Murakami finished in the runner-up spot with a 17:46. In the senior race Briana Jauregui won the race in an impressive 17:32 and teammate Courtney Wilson placed third in 18:00. Such a dominant performance for the third-ranked team in the land.

Liberty Bell Invitational (CO)

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By Alan Versaw (ColoradoRunners.com)

Some things--like the domination of the New Mexico boys--played out according to expectations. Other things did not.

In the Division 1 boys contest, it was all New Mexico as Albuquerque Academy (72) and Los Alamos (114) easily outpaced Regis Jesuit (169), the third-place team and top finisher from Colorado. The NM teams were able to dominate even despite a 1-4 finish by the Nicolls brothers, Bobby and Danny, of Regis.

There were a series a less predictable outcomes, however. The most noteworthy of these, though we could debate exactly how surprising it was, was Denver North's Joseph Manilafasha (at left- photo courtesy of Micah Porter) turning in the best time of the day. Manilafasha poured it on in the Divsion 3 race to win in 14:56, 40 seconds ahead of his closest competition in that race and 10 seconds ahead of Bobby Nicolls for the fastest time of the day. For his part, Nicolls edged Gareth Gilna of Los Alamos 15:06 to 15:08 for the Division 1 boys title. The Division 2 title went to Dart Schwaderer (celebrating his title, at right--photo courtesy of Micah Porter) of Wheat Ridge in 15:14.

On the girls' side of things, everything came up purple as Miranda Benzel posted the fastest time of the day at 17:41, and the Fort Collins girls were light years ahead of the closest competition in the Division 1 girls race. The Lambkins' team score was completed with Rachel Viger in fifth, Tati Ogan in eighth, Kirsten Follett in ninth, and Lisa Reyna in fifteenth for an impressive total of 38. This race marked the return to competition for Lisa Reyna, the front runner of last year's Fort Collins team. Cherry Creek finished second and Boulder third in the Division 1 race. Natosha Rogers of Dakota Ridge edged Eleanor Fulton of Highlands Ranch 17:50 to 17:51, to win the Division 2 girls race.

While Dakota Ridge and Highlands Ranch had the leaders of the Division 2 race, it was a deep Mullen team the prevailed for the team title. Division 3 titles went to Falcon on the boys side and to Niwot by two points over Evergreen on the girls side. Jen Bremser won the Division 3 girls race with a solid time of 18:20.8.

Division 4 saw the Faith Christian boys toppling a short-handed Colorado Academy team. Joseph DeMoor of Buena Vista and Sam Berggren of Middle Park won the individual titles. Alicia Nelson of Moffat County was seven seconds behind in second place. Click Here for Original Article

Carmel XC Classic (IN)

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U.S. #13 Carmel (IN) continued their undefeated season Saturday, crushing the competition at their own invitational, the Carmel XC Classic. The team won the boys varsity race scoring a mere 25 points, placing 1-3-5-7-9. The Greyhounds followed the lead of senior front runner Dan Kinn, who won the 5k race in 16:44, ten seconds ahead of runner-up Yoshi Shimizu (Hilliard Davidson, OH). Kinn's teammate J.D. Smith placed third. The squad once again used a strong 1-5 split, this time finishing together with a 36 second spread.

Carmel dominated on the girls side as well, sweeping the top three spots and placing seven in the top 11. Freshman Renee Wellman, sophomore Alex Chitwood and senior Kayla McCurdy led the way, with Wellman finishing the race in 19:25. The Carmel girls team is currently ranked #1 in Indiana.

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More Highlights & Results Coming!!!

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