The Woodbridge Invitational is one of the top cross country meets each year and this year was no different. Mira Costa and Redondo Union brought their teams to the contest to compete against some of the best teams in Southern California last weekend.

Mira Costa boys and girls competed in the tougher Sweepstakes Race while Redondo Union competed in the Varsity Division.

The Mira Costa boys finished 10th with 346 points. Newbury Park won the team title.

Nico Young, senior, of Newbury Park won the race in 13:39.7. Mira Costa’s Cormac Carew, junior, was 42nd in 14:42.66 and Thomas Velvin, senior, was 55th in 14:54.2.

The girls’ team from Mira Costa finished 13th out of 27 of the top teams in the country.

Dalia Frias finished ninth overall in a blazing time of 16:34. 

“She ran 29 seconds faster than she did last week at the Cool Breeze Invitational,” said her coach Renee Williams Smith. “We are really impressed with her progression as a sophomore.”

As a team, she is just as enthused about their present state.

“The team was able to run as a tight pack for most of the race which is a great experience to have in such a large and talented field of runners,” Williams Smith said. “They were led by Carmen Mel, Pnina Tofler and the Chittenden sisters; senior Cara and freshman Anna.”

They had a second team compete as well.

“Our ‘B’ team finished second in the varsity race,” said the coach. “We are fortunate enough to have solid depth this year. It’s a great start to the season.”

Redondo Union was led by Christoph Waligorski, sophomore, from the boys’ team and Montgomery Allison, junior, with the girls’ team.

“The boys and girls both showed great improvement last weekend at the Woodbridge Invitational,” said Redondo Union cross country head coach Bob Leetch. “Our boys were led by eventual race winner Christoph Waligorski, with a winning time of 14:54. Returning from injury was Jackson Chambers next and Daniel Lutz to follow. The boys ended up second overall in the Gold Division. This is a team without a great deal of varsity experience. They are definitely moving in the right direction.” 

“I was confident I could win the race because, again, it wasn’t at the level of the sweepstakes race, but I knew it would be no small effort to do it,” Waligorski said. “My game plan was to coast off of the leader(s) until about the last 400 meters of the race and take the lead from there.”

He got out front with a few runners early, broke away with another runner at the midway point and then took the lead for good. He had a goal in mind for the race and in the end, he was satisfied.

“My main focus was winning the race. I met my expectations in both regards, but I’m also confident I can go a lot faster than 14:54 in a race where I’m chasing.”

“The girls team is starting to put together race strategies and racing at a higher level,” said Leetch of the girls, who placed third in the Gold Division. “This is a very young team. They’re learning a lot on the fly. They’re doing great for this early. We’ll see where they are in about a month.”

Allison spoke about the girls’ race.

“I led the girls out fast as their strategy behind me was to stay as packed up as possible with each other. For the first inner loop of the race, we were all relatively close together.”

There were just under 200 runners in their race.

“The last mile, I was in 21st place and I pushed to pass other runners and coming into the last 400 meters of the race, I was in 11th place,” Allison said. “The last few turns of the 400 meters left I was able to run down two more runners to go ninth overall in a time of 18:42.”

Victoria Valenzuela, sophomore, was second on the team with time of 19:02, finishing 23rd.

“I left Woodbridge feeling very positive,” Valenzuela said. “It was one of my first varsity races so to be able to get out quickly and place in the top 30 at such a big meet was very exhilarating.”

Other runners included Eva Kelley, sophomore, 19:23 (36), Reika Goto, junior, 19:35 (42) and Ava Syed, junior, 19:55 (49).

“Although we're always looking to do better, I think our team raced well and that we're definitely on the road to success,” Valenzuela said. “By the end of our race, every girl on the team medaled, which leaves us feeling pretty excited and motivated for future races.”

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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