Harriers in the Hills: Mt. SAC Invitational Preview


By David M. Burnette


Walnut, California and the Mt. Sac Cross Country Invitational will host many of the California's fastest teams and individuals.  This the 66th year of the infamous meet takes place over two days on October 25th and 26th.  Over the past 6 decades the course has seen not only California's best but many of the Nation's best teams and individuals.  The historic course can be broken down into 4 parts.  Mile one is a flat loop which is run twice called the "Valley Loop" followed by three hills.  First of which is named "The Switchbacks" due to the back and forth climb.  At the bottom of "Poop Out" hill the runner will cross the two mile mark.  The final mile includes  a two tier hill called "Reservoir", before finishing on the "Airstrip" and "Gauntlet".

Friday's competition will be highlighted by the Division III Boys Sweepstakes race with Brea Olinda's Austin Tamagno and El Modena's Sydney Gidabuday (both ranked in the Saucony Elite 50 Individual Boys) .   The two of them are quite familiar with each other.  This will be the fourth time they have done battle this fall, with Tamagno coming out on top twice.  Brea Olinda's boys team also crack the Nation's top 25 this week after winning the Orange County Championships last weekend.  In girls competition on Friday, we find two of Nation's finest with Anna Maxwell of San Lorenozo Valley and Bethan Knights of Northwood High.  Maxwell (#5 in Saucony's Elite) will run in the Division IV Sweepstakes while Knights coming off a 16:48 three mile run away win at the Orange County Champions will run in Division III and is looking to add to her already impressive season which finds her ranked in Saucony' Elite Individuals.

Saturday's Division I and II Team Sweepstakes always brings out the best midseason team competition in the state of California.  Seven of the top 12 teams in California will line up together.  Number 1 ranked Apaches of Arcadia High will try defend their 2012 Invite Championship.  Among the 16 teams in the race Great Oak, Warren, and Dana Hills pose the biggest threat to Arcadia.  Saucony Elite #4 Estavan De La Rosa (Arcadia) and #5 Steven Fahy (La Costa Canyon) will see each other for the first time.  The Individual  DI and II Sweepstakes race will see Big Bear's (Team will run in Division IV) Junior Caleb Webb who split up Tamagno and Gidabuday at the Woodbridge Invitational in 14:10 as he moves up divisions.  Matching up in this showdown of top individuals will also include the Orange Country Champion Garrett Corcoran (Villa Park), San Pedro's Steve Correa, and Loyola's Robert Brandt.  The Girl's DI and II Team Sweepstakes has one of the top fields that will compete all season.  Five of Saucony's top 45 teams will compete in this race.  The race will include #7 Simi Valley, #12 Capistrano Valley, and in the watch list Buchanan, Davis, Great Oak, St. Francis, and Phoenix, Arizona's Xavier Prep.  Saucony's Elites Sarah Baxter (Simi Valley) and Destiny Collins (Great Oak) will compete for the first time since the Woodbridge Invitational when Baxter ran away with a 23 second victory over the talented field.  The Division I and II Individual Sweepstakes will have Saucony's Elite #15 Marissa Williams of Palisades Charter.

Competition begins Friday October 25 at 10:30am and concludes Saturday October 26th at 5:50pm.  The Mt. Sac. course is also the home of California's Southern Section Championships as well as the Footlocker Western Regional in December.