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PREP CROSS-COUNTRY / CENTURY LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Title Puts Lara in Running With Orange's Best

November 01, 2000|DAN ARRITT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Raul Lara appears to be next in a long line of talented runners at Orange High.

Lara, a freshman, won the Century League boys' cross-country title Tuesday at Yorba Park in Anaheim Hills, circling the three-mile course in 15 minutes 10 seconds.

Lara finished four seconds faster than El Modena's Tim Aukshunas, who defeated Lara in two Century League cluster meets this season.

Orange Coach Don Burnette, who graduated from Orange High in 1959, has seen some outstanding runners pass through Orange during his long association with the school.

Burnette was a teammate of Dale Story, who set the national high school record of 4:11.0 in the mile at the 1959 state meet. Burnette was teaching in the Orange Unified School District when Mary Decker ran a 4:40.4 mile as a freshman at Orange in 1973.

Burnette also has coached some talented runners in his 11 seasons at Orange, including Jaime Martinez, the 1993 Division II state champion and Times' Orange County runner of the year, and Nick Russell, the 1996 Century League champion and runner-up at the county championships.

But Burnette believes Lara could end up the best runner to come out of the school.

"He's keeping me from retiring," said Burnette, a teacher in the Orange Unified District for 37 years.

Lara would be happy just to share the same space with those former runners.

"I see their pictures in our trophy case at school and I envision mine in there someday, too," Lara said.

Lara's victory also helped the Panthers gain a berth in the Southern Section Division II preliminaries, which begin Nov. 11 at Mt. San Antonio College. It's the first time seniors Esteban Moreno, Ric Uriostegui, Armando Uriostegui and Sergio Avalos have advanced out of the league finals.

"These kids wanted to run in a [Southern Section] race since they were freshmen," Burnette said. "It's kind of a dream come true for them."

Santa Ana Valley won the team title with 42 points, followed by Orange with 53 and Foothill with 60.

In the girls' meet:

Foothill wins--Sophomore Katie Strachan won the three-mile race at Yorba Park in 18:09, helping the Knights defend their team title by 42 points over Villa Park.

Foothill, which hopes to defend its Southern Section Division II and state titles this month, was also paced by Emily Haigh in second (18:19), Missy Ellsworth in fourth (18:37) and Lyndsey Kuehn in fifth (18:39).

Two-time individual champion Laura Strachan of Foothill, who is still recovering from a broken bone in her lower back, finished 10th in 19:07.

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