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Siraki Switches Into Cruise Control, Repeats

State cross-country: Hoover High senior leads virtually all the way to win Division I girls' race by 43 seconds.


FRESNO — Anita Siraki of Hoover High won her second consecutive Division I girls' title in the state cross-country championships at Woodward Park on Saturday, but there were few similarities between the victories.

Siraki strained to beat Julie Allen of Fountain Valley by seven seconds last year, but she cruised to a 43-second victory over freshman Liza Pasciuto of Murrieta Valley on Saturday.

Being the favorite made Siraki a nervous wreck last year, but she relished the role this time.

Siraki ran 17:35 over the 5,000-meter course last year to move into a tie for 18th on the all-time course list for juniors, and she ran 16:59 on Saturday to become the second girl to break 17 minutes.

"Last year, I was fighting the whole way," said the undefeated Siraki. "I was really tight during the race. This year I was more focused and relaxed."

The ability to focus and relax in the big meets is the biggest difference between the Siraki of this year, who is a co-favorite for the national title, and the Siraki of last year, who stunned herself with a fourth-place finish in the national championships.

"What's new this year is the absolute control on her face when she's running hard," Coach Greg Switzer of Hoover said. "She's in control of her nerves."

That was evident Saturday when Siraki had a large lead and a smile on her face after running the first mile in 5:23.

Her lead was 22 seconds at two miles in 10:59 and she nearly doubled that in the last third of the race.

"I was going for a time in the low 17s," she said after finishing well off the course record of 16:43 set by Julia Stamps of Santa Rosa in 1996. "I wasn't shooting for the record at all. I was just going for the win."

Senior Natalie Stein of North Hollywood finished fifth in 18:07 to equal the highest finish by a runner from the City Section.

Freshman Lindsey Owen of Nordhoff was an upset winner in the Division III girls' race and favored Santa Clara won the Division V boys' title.

Owen, who won the Southern Section title at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut on Nov. 18, was one of eight runners who led the field through the mile in 5:43, but she and junior Jenny Aldridge of Santa Rosa Maria Carrillo were battling for the lead when they came through two miles in 11:37.

Owen and Aldridge ran together for the next half-mile before Owen surged into the lead on her way to a 17:46 clocking that made her the only freshman winner in the meet.

"Oh my God, it's amazing," she said. "I never felt so much excitement in my life."

Owen's victory paced Nordhoff to a second-place total of 88 points.

Felton San Lorenzo Valley, led by the sixth-place finish of defending champion Alejandra Barrientos, totaled 60 points to win its second consecutive title.

Santa Clara beat Flintridge Prep, 62-76, for its first state title.

Seniors Michael Reed and Bobby Hull of Santa Clara placed sixth in 16:17 and eighth in 16:26.

Senior Tom Kubler of Viewpoint fell about two inches short of his second consecutive Division V individual title when sophomore Tim Nelson of Redding Liberty Christian out-leaned him at the finish. Both were timed in 15:31.

Mark Nevers of Oak Park ran 15:28 to place second in the Division IV boys' race and lead the Eagles to second place behind McFarland, Nordhoff placed second to Los Gatos in the Division III boys' final, and Quartz Hill finished fifth in the Division I girls' race.

Senior Laura Jakosky of Agoura ran 18:10 to finish sixth in the Division II girls' final for the third consecutive year.



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