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NORCO — On the final day of the Woodbridge Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, several county athletes proved they belong in the same races as the top runners in the state.
The prestigious meet was staged over two nights on a lighted course at the SilverLakes Sports Complex, with the best runners competing in the final four races of the 52-race meet.
Freshman Brynn Garcia of JSerra finished first among county runners and 26th overall in the girls division of the Bob Day Sweepstakes Race, considered the elite event of the meet.
“I’m so happy I’m able to push myself with these amazing runners, and specifically my amazing team,” Garcia said.
Garcia (17:04.9) led the Lions to an eighth-place finish as a team, also No. 1 among county teams.
The JSerra girls cross country team finished eighth as a team in the sweepstakes race at the Woodbridge Invitational on Saturday at the SilverLakes Sports Complex in Norco. (Photo by Lou Ponsi, Contributor)
Melanie Falkowski of Laguna Beach placed 10th overall in the Girls Rated Varsity Race at the Woodbridge Invitational in Norco on Saturday, Sept. 18. (Photo by Lou Ponsi, Contributor)
Beckman senior Christopher Keyler finished seventh overall and first among county runners in the Boys Rated Varstiy Race at the Woodbridge Invitational. (Photo by Lou Ponsi, Contributor)
JSerra’s Brynn Garcia finished seventh in the sweepstakes race at the Woodbridge Invitational on Saturday in Norco. Garcia led the Lions to an eighth-place finish as a team. (Photo by Lou Ponsi, Contributor)
“We come here to race against good teams,” said Lions coach Chase Frazier, who is in his second year at JSerra. “We want to be one of the best teams in California, so we’ve got to show up at this race and put ourselves in the fastest one. We don’t want to be in a slower race just to win. We want to be in a race like this and do as well as we can.”
In the boys sweepstakes race, Aliso Niguel’s Brennan Foody (14:26.3) led county runners on the fast course with an 11th-place finish, more than a minute faster than his winning time in last week’s Division 1 Senior Boys race at the Laguna Hills Invitational.
In the Girls Rated Varsity Race, just a notch below the sweepstakes race in terms of times, Melanie Falkowski of Laguna Beach crossed the line in 10th place overall and was first among county runners.
“I felt really nervous going into it,” said Falkowski, who finished second at last season’s Sunset League finals. “I also felt controlled and happy that I was making my way up because I’ve never been in a race like this. It was such an amazing experience.”
A week after setting records on her home course in the Laguna Hills Invitational, Golden Hawks freshman Holly Barker made her mark on a bigger stage.
On Friday, the first night of competition, Barker won the red division varsity race in 16 minutes, 27.4 seconds, the second-fastest time for a freshman in the history of the prestigious meet.
Barker also beat her winning time from the freshman race at Laguna Hills by more than 30 seconds.
The mark was also the best ever in a Friday race since Woodbridge expanded to a two-night event in 2011.
“I didn’t believe that time,” Frazier said of Barker’s performance. “I thought it was a mistake because it was so fast.”
Beckman senior Christopher Keyler clocked 14 minutes, 47.2 seconds to lead county athletes with a seventh-place finish in the Boys Rated Varsity Race.
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