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Santa Ana Edges Tustin for No. 5

October 27, 2000|DAN ARRITT

Santa Ana won its fifth consecutive Golden West League boys' cross-country title Thursday, but Tustin made the three-mile race through Central Park in Huntington Beach closer than expected.

The Tillers, who finished ninth at the Orange County Championships two weeks ago, placed four runners in the top 10 and scored 35 points. Santa Ana, runner-up at the county championships, placed four in the top 10 and scored 27.

"We're coming along," Tustin Coach Tom Coffey said. "[Santa Ana is] a good team and we were right with them."

Tustin's Alonso Smith defended his individual title in 15 minutes 15 seconds, followed by Santa Ana's Joel Guzman in 15:18 and Jose Cholula in 15:23. Erick Sepulveda finished fourth in 15:56 for Tustin, which was the biggest surprise.

"We used to have Alonso [out front] and then the other four guys would be together," Coffey said. "In the last three weeks [Sepulveda] has stepped out. He's not with the elite, but he's with the good runners now. He's not a pack runner anymore."

Coffey also credited Luis Trujillo, whose ninth-place finish earned key points for the Tillers, ranked eighth in Southern Section Division II.

Santa Ana Coach Darel Newman wasn't concerned about his team's slim margin of victory. He was too busy glowing about the return of senior Uziel Lara to the Saints, who are ranked third in Southern Section Division I and 10th in state.

Lara was academically ineligible the first six weeks of the season, but should rejoin the team Monday. Newman said Lara has continued training with the Saints during the fall and should run anywhere from third to fifth on the team.

"He is about a 35- or 40-point difference for us," Newman said. "If you take away our fifth runner at the county championships, who was 61st, and replace him with Uziel, we would have won easily."

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