If you’re looking for the event with all kinds of story lines behind it, this is the one.
Returning this spring is the deepest freshman class in Foothill League history. Canyon’s Kendall Bietsch, Saugus’ Sabrina Janes, Hart’s Augustina Hansen and West Ranch’s Marisa Magsarili rank fourth, sixth, seventh and tenth on Santa Clarita Valley’s all-time high school freshman list, while Janes and Magsarili also produced the first and third fastest marks on the Foothill League Championship junior varsity all-time list at last May’s finals.
The top two returnees this track season are Golden Valley’s Chelsey Totten and Canyon’s Madison Hills, last year’s silver and bronze medalists, though.
Although the senior’s best performances have occurred over four laps, Totten’s personal best in this event is nearly four seconds faster than any other Foothill League girls returner. The Arizona State University returnee is the defending Foothill League 1,600-meter champion, hasn’t lost a race over that distance since May 2011, and is the favorite to win 800 and 1,600-meter titles in 2013.
Meanwhile, Hills is the two-time Foothill League bronze medalist in this two-lap event. Twice, the Cowboy has improved just enough to make the podium and the CIF post-season, clocking 2:17.03 in the 2011 finals and 2:17.04 in the 2012 finals.
Then there’s Valencia’s Olivia Pear, who’s looking to finally finish on the podium after fifth and fourth-place finishes in the last two finals. The senior had a fantastic cross country campaign, finishing fourth at last year’s Foothill League Cross Country Finals and 11th at the CIF Southern Section Championships, two places off a state berth. Look for Pear to challenge for an individual track championship when May’s finals roll around.
As for the four sophomores entering this track season, Bietsch, Janes, Hansen and Magsarili could all win it all. However, Canyon’s Bietsch – ranked No. 3 last season – ran the 400-meter finals, taking fourth, instead of this event last year, so it remains unknown whether or not she’ll show up on the starting line in May. Hart’s Hansen, last year’s 1,600-meter silver medalist, will also most likely run the 1,600-meter event, so it’s unlikely she’ll contend off a double in this kind of caliber field. West Ranch’s Magsarili could make the podium as well. It should be interesting to see whether or not the Wildcat is capable of living up to her program’s rich tradition in this two-lap event. Saugus’ Janes is the most capable of the four though. The ex-soccer player has great speed mixed with an impressive base as well. Last fall, she won the frosh/soph league title by 46 seconds over teammate Ashley Heys. Her performance would have been ninth in the varsity finals, an impressive feat in the first cross country season of her young sports career.
The wildcard here is super freshman Bianca Tinoco of Golden Valley. The standout earned All-Southern Section and all-state accolades last cross country season, the first Grizzly to accomplish the feat on the girl’s side. Her 17:48 and 18:09 performances at Mt. SAC and Woodward Park rank No. 3 and No. 2 on SCV’s all-time freshman list. Tinoco clocked 2:24 at last year’s SCV Track & Field Junior High Championships as an eighth-grader and recently ran a personal best of 2:21 over the distance, No. 8 among all the Foothill League returnees this spring. If anyone is going pull off an upset, it’ll be Tinoco. The last freshman to win a Foothill League 800-meter championship was the great Alysia Johnson, arguably the greatest athlete in SCV history, way back in 2001.