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AT A GLANCE

Boys' Cross-Country

September 05, 2000

* The Proven: Santa Margarita's Steven Murray was the only non-senior on The Times' Orange County team last season, winning his division at the Laguna Hills and Woodbridge invitationals and taking eighth in the individual sweepstakes race at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational. Murray's times at the Orange County Championships, section finals and state finals were among the top five fastest by county runners at those meets. Edison's Scott Brandos had the fastest time among county runners at the Mt. SAC Invitational last season. Santiago's Rudy Corona finished 15th at the Division II state finals and 10th in the Southern Section.

* The Promising: Woodbridge Coach George Varvas considers incoming freshman Michael Haddan to be the first elite boy runner in his 20 years at the school. Haddan finished sixth in the youth boys' 1,500 meters at the National Junior Olympics in July, completing the four-lap race in 4 minutes 27.20 seconds. Hadden also placed 13th Thursday on the 2.8-mile course (15:27) at the Sunset in the Park race in Huntington Beach's Central Park. Humberto Rojas helped Estancia qualify for the state meet as a freshman after finishing ninth at the Southern Section Division IV finals. Valencia, which has the potential to be a top-10 team this season, is led by sophomore Juan Robles, who completed the grueling Mt. SAC course in 16:10 last season. Robles also won Orange League track and field titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 last spring. Irvine sophomore Sean Bean went undefeated and won the Sea View League freshman/sophomore championship in cross-country last season.

* Preseason Top 10: 1. Santa Margarita--Eagles have the quality and depth to win a county title and possibly more; 2. Dana Hills--Newcomers mixed with seasoned veterans make this pack dangerous; 3. El Toro--Chargers typically save best performances for November; 4. Edison--Just about everybody is back from squad that peaked at midseason Eastern States Championships in New York; 5. Mission Viejo--Jacob Gustafson, Dan Fogal and Brian Collins probably are the best trio in county; 6. Santa Ana--Six back from 1999 team with great potential but minimal results; 7. Estancia--Four key runners return from Division IV state finalists last season; 8. Corona del Mar--Returning runners include Travis Beardslee and Josh Yelsey, who finished in top seven at section finals; 9. Tustin--Alonso Smith leads four others at or below 17:30 at Mt. SAC; 10. Newport Harbor--Chris McMillan (16:15) and Jon Peschelt (16:56) among four back.

* Key Dates: Sept. 9, Laguna Hills Invitational; 16, Woodbridge Invitational; 23, Dana Hills Invitational; 30, Stanford Invitational; Oct. 7, Central Park Invitational; 14, Orange County Championships, Irvine Park; 21, Mt. San Antonio College Invitational; 28, Century League finals at Yorba Park, Sunset League finals at Central Park; Nov. 1, Empire League finals at Irvine Park, Orange League finals at Craig Park; 2, Freeway League finals at Clark Park, Garden Grove League finals at Mile Square Park, Olympic League finals at Craig Park, Pacific Coast League finals at Irvine Park, Serra League finals at Central Park; 3, Sea View League finals at Irvine Park, South Coast League finals at Laguna Niguel Park; 11, Southern Section prelims at Mt. SAC; 18, Southern Section finals at Mt. SAC; 25, State finals at Woodward Park in Fresno.

* League Favorites: Century--Santa Ana Valley; Empire--Century; Freeway--Sonora; Garden Grove--Santiago; Golden West--Santa Ana; Olympic--Sierra Madre Maranatha; Orange--Valencia; Pacific Coast--Estancia; Sea View--Newport Harbor; Serra--Santa Margarita; South Coast--Dana Hills; Sunset--Edison.

* Fast Fact: Michael Munoz believes this season's team will be the best yet at Edison, but he won't be around to see it. The coach who led the Chargers to three Sunset League titles in six years accepted a position teaching English in Japan. But before handing over the team to Edison track and field Coach Erich Moreno, Munoz left behind a detailed plan for the entire season, including workout and race schedules. "It's time I do something for myself," Munoz said.

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