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Gleason Pushes Himself to Higher Level

Boys' cross-country: Mission Viejo senior hopes to see more success on team that won league title last year.


MISSION VIEJO — Before the cross-country season began last year, Mission Viejo's Mark Gleason dedicated himself to the sport by focusing on each workout one at a time, and it paid off.

The result: Southern Section Division II winner, Orange County Championships winner, South Coast League champion, fourth-place finisher at the state Division II finals, a place on the Foot Locker Western Regional team and The Times Orange County boys' cross-country athlete of the year.

Gleason also helped the Diablos win the South Coast League team title with a 5-0 record.

It may be difficult to duplicate his accomplishments from his junior year, but Gleason is determined to improve this season.

"Last year, [going to state] was out of my personal view at the beginning of the season and I think that's why I didn't win it," Gleason said. "This year, I'm looking all the way through to nationals so I will be prepared for state and regionals."

Mission Viejo Coach Gene Gurule said he had to keep his high-achieving runner from looking too far ahead during summer training.

"We're having to hold him back and remind him that he has a long way to go before the state meet and nationals," Gurule said. "He has his sights elevated more than he did last year. He can hardly wait for the national meet."

Besides having higher goals, Gleason said he is stronger than he was last year.

"Every year since I started running, I can tell each summer that I'm at a higher level," Gleason said. "I can feel my body has grown, and with no extra effort, I am able to run faster times."

Gleason's success hasn't gone unnoticed by his brother, David, who is a sophomore this year.

"I admire him. We [as a team] are used to having Mark in front and he gives the team confidence when he's up there," David said. "He's helped me the most by what he's done because people would like me to be as good of a runner as he has been and that has helped my confidence. I want to be the No. 1 man when he graduates from high school, but it'll be tough to do with the team we have now."

Mark acknowledges that he has had an effect on his younger brother but also notes that it's a give-and-take situation.

"David sees what has happened to me from running and he wants the same things," Mark said. "But I can count on him just as much as I can count on myself and that helps a lot. I know he'll be improving all year because of his determination."

Among his goals for the season, David hopes to be able to run No. 1 and No. 2 with his brother in at least one race. "But we have such a good team, that will be tough," David said.

According to Gurule, Mission Viejo is returning six starters and features at least 10 runners who could be among the top seven.

Besides having such great depth, having the Gleason brothers on his team at the same time can mean only positive things for Gurule and the squad.

"One of the reasons our team is so excited about this season and for the next couple of seasons is because of Mark and David," Gurule said. "Mark is a catalyst for this team and David can see what his brother is doing and hopes to achieve what Mark has done."

As important as their personal goals are, the Gleason brothers are just as focused on helping Mission Viejo achieve its team goals.

"I think every position that I run, whether it's fourth or seventh, it's important," David said. "I just want to help the team. I'm not looking for any individual glory."

Said Mark: "We're in a position to win CIF and Orange County. It's a matter of whether we want it bad enough . . . I know I want it."



1. Santa Ana

Saints were third in state Division III.

2. Katella

The Knights finished third in Division II.

3. Mission Viejo

Mark Gleason returns for the Diablos.

4. Santa Ana Valley

The Falcons will rely on sophomores.

5. Newport Harbor

Curt Hurberts will lead the Sailors.

6. Santa Margarita

The Eagles return five runners.

7. Tustin

The Tillers are led by CJ Marciales.

8. Foothill

The Knights have six returners.

9. Edison

The Chargers return six runners.

10. El Toro

Danny Lee will lead these Chargers.


Runners to Watch

* Martin Brix, University, Sr.

* Claudio Cortez, Newport Harbor, Sr.

* Ryan Downey, St. Margaret's, Sr.

* Auggie Escobar, Villa Park, So.

* Mark Gleason, Mission Viejo, Sr.

* Leo Gordillo, Tustin, Jr.

* Bruce Hancock, Costa Mesa, Jr.

* Curt Hurberts, Newport Harbor, Jr.

* Bob Kennedy, Santiago, Sr..

* Jack Kuehn, Foothill, Sr.

* Andy Knutsen, Edison, Jr.

* Danny Lee, El Toro, Jr.

* Alfonso Leon, Santa Ana, Jr.

* Devin Lindahl, Dana Hills, Jr.

* CJ Marciales, Tustin, Sr.

* Danny Mejia, Katella, Jr.

* Lionel Perez, Capistrano Valley, Sr.

* Rene Rangel, Santiago, So.

* Brandon von Guenthner, Santa Margarita, Sr.

League Favorites

Century: Santa Ana Valley; Empire: Katella; Freeway: Sonora; Garden Grove: Santiago; Golden West: Santa Ana; Olympic: Orange Lutheran; Orange: Brea Olinda; Pacific Coast: Estancia; Sea View: Newport Harbor; South Coast: Mission Viejo; Sunset: Edison.

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