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Canyon Boys Take Title but Fall Short of Goals


It is not always easy being the second-ranked high school boys' cross-country team in the nation.

Canyon Country Canyon showed that Saturday in the Southern Section championships at Mt. San Antonio College.

The Cowboys were runaway winners in the Division I race and the cumulative time of their top five runners was a school-record 76 minutes 59 seconds.

Yet, Canyon senior Jameson Mora was mildly disappointed with his third-place time of 15:03 over the 2.91-mile course and junior teammate Ryan Morgan was downright bummed out about his fifth-place and career-best 15:07 effort.

"We really wanted to get three of us under 15," Canyon senior Luke Llamas said after placing first in 14:51. "And we wanted to get our next two guys under 16."

The Cowboys fell short of both goals on a day when Emily Vince of Palos Verdes Peninsula won the Division I girls' race after favorite Liza Pasciuto of Murrieta Valley collapsed shortly before the two-mile mark.

But Canyon's 72-127 victory over runner-up and defending champion Long Beach Poly was nonetheless impressive.

Not only did the Cowboys take three of the top five places in the most talent-laden race of the meet, but junior Troy Werner finished 14th in 15:31 and junior Alex Harris was 71st in 16:25 for a team that won the Division II title last year.

Werner cut 10 seconds off his previous best at Mt. SAC while Llamas trimmed four seconds off his with a hard-fought victory over junior Erick Maldonado of Chino Don Lugo.

Llamas led the field through the mile in 4:49 and through two miles in 9:58, but Maldonado, passed him ascending the third--and final--hill on the course.

Maldonado had a three-yard lead on Llamas as they neared the top of the 200-yard long hill with a half-mile left, but Llamas spurted past him starting the ascent.

Vince, a senior, and Pasciuto, a sophomore, appeared headed for a thrilling finish of their own when they started up aptly-named "Poop-Out Hill" with about 11/4 miles left in the Division I girls' race. But Pasciuto passed out before they reached the top and Vince was all alone when she came through two miles in 11:31.

"I didn't see what happened to her," said Vince, whose 17:06 clocking cut 39 seconds off her previous best at Mt. SAC. "Her breathing wasn't weird or anything."

Pasciuto, sixth in the national championships last year, was treated by paramedics for several minutes before regaining her senses. She said she felt fine before the race, but couldn't recall what happened before her collapse.

Pasciuto's woes overshadowed a fine performance by Dana Point Dana Hills, which won the team title with a 111-132 victory over Thousand Oaks.

Anaheim Esperanza, the eighth-ranked team in the nation, was a disappointing sixth with 150 points, but is expected to be granted an at-large berth in next Saturday's state championships at Woodward Park in Fresno.

There were several other noteworthy performances.

Michael Haddan of Irvine Woodbridge won the Division II boys' race with a sophomore-course record of 14:54 and Riverside Rubidoux won the team title with a 62-130 victory over Anaheim Katella.

Barstow won the Division III boys' title with a 36-90 victory over Lake Arrowhead Rim of the World, and Woodbridge took the Division II girls' title with a 57-131 victory over defending champion Hesperia Sultana.

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