Karis Frankian and Jenay Jauregui know how significant Saturday’s Nike Cross Nationals is.
They also know it will mark the final time they run alongside each other after four glorious years on the Saugus girls cross country team.
Both have run the challenging course at Portland Meadows before.
So has Emily McCarty, a senior on the Centurions lineup.
Add in Katie Huntington’s run in the open race at last year’s event and you have a team full of experience entering their sixth trip to Portland, Ore.
The Saugus girls have made the podium three times in the last six years, more than all California teams combined. Corona Del Mar girls finished second in 2005, while the Arcadia boys team won California’s first national cross country championship last year’s Nike Cross Nationals.
The goal this year?
Repeat what they did in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Meanwhile, Frankian will be chasing after the first All-American honors of her career in a fierce battle up front. Top 21 finishers are awarded All-American first, second and third team honors. Only Saugus’ Kaylin Mahoney, Shannon Murakami and Katie Dunn, as well as Canyon’s Lauren Fleshman and Dave Hartman, have finished off their high school cross country careers with All-American awards at the Nike Cross Nationals or Footlocker National Championships.
Joining the four above will be Frankian’s younger sister, Abigail, junior Heidi Hoslet and senior Jordan McCall. Together, the seven have had a near-perfect year, which has included a Mt. San Antonio College Individual Sweepstakes title, their sixth straight Foothill League crown, a runner-up finish at the CIF Southern Section Finals and an unprecedented sixth consecutive state championship last weekend. Their accomplishments are even more impressive considering they lost six of their top nine from the 2010 lineup that won five straight Foothill League, Southern Section and California state championships, including Mahoney and Stephanie Bulder.
That record-breaking squad, which became the first team in California history to break 90 minutes for team time on a 5,000-meter cross country course, went on the finish a solid third at the Nike Cross Nationals, behind five-time defending national champions Fayetteville-Manlius (Manlius XC) and Saratoga Springs (Kinetic XC) of New York. On Saturday, the Saugus girls, who will run under the club name “Newhall XC,” will be aiming for another podium finish against a very deep field up front.
In the race will be New York’s Fayetteville-Manlius (Manlius XC), Saratoga Springs (Kinetic XC) and North Shore (Glen Head XC), as well as Tatnall of Deleware (Wilmington XC) and California’s Simi Valley (Simi Valley XC), La Costa Canyon (La Costa Canyon XC) and Redondo Union (Redondo XC). Those seven programs are the most likely to challenge the Lady Centurions in another bid for a top three finish up in Portland.
The Saugus girls cross country team finished 18th in 2006, second in 2007 and 2008, fourth in 2009 and third last year.
Individually, Katie Dunn and Kaylin Mahoney took fifth and seventh at the 2007 Nike Team Nationals, the last year before individuals were invited, while Mahoney also finished 11th in 2008, 13th in 2009 and 21st last year. Teammate Stephanie Bulder also ran a remarkable race last year, taking 22nd behind Mahoney, while Shannon Murakami, one of the coaches making the trip this year with assistant coach Kathryn Nelson, earned the final All-American award in 2006, crossing in 21st place.
The girls race at the Nike Cross Nationals will have a live webcast Saturday at 11:15 a.m.