Saugus High School senior Jacqueline Cascione is the top pick for the 2018 Foothill League girls’ cross country season, according to Brando’s Blog, compiled by Santa Clarita Valley athlete-journalist Brandon Jauregui.
Here’s the preview:
Saugus – Voted the greatest high school girls program in California history last fall, the Lady Centurions are once again favored to win their 13th straight Foothill League varsity and junior varsity titles, as well as a 14th frosh/soph league crown. Head coach Rene Paragas’ squad will also attempt to win a state record 10th state championship in 13 years, as well as extend their own state record for most consecutive podium finishes (set this fall at 12 years in a row).
West Ranch – With 11 of Saugus’ top 15 returning in 2019, next fall could be the Wildcats’ last attempt at dethroning 12-time Foothill League champion for quite some time. Sara Soltani’s girls’ team, consisting of senior veterans Sophia Hoelzel, Shelbi Schauble and Peyton Washington, as well as junior standout Abigail Welch, lead West Ranch in 2018.
Canyon – The Cowboys, led by one of the best coaching staffs in the valley, get the early edge over the Vikings, based off experience and history. Canyon will be led by senior Marisa Rodriguez and 2:19 800m runner Angelee Berganio.
Valencia – Led by superstar Hailey Kirsch, the Vikings look to repeat their 2017 success, which saw Kirsch and her teammates reach the CIF Southern Section Division 1 Championships at Riverside Country Park.
Golden Valley – A young Grizzly team will need a great summer of training in order to close to gap to Valencia.
Hart – The Indians have a lot of rebuilding to do after a sub-par 2017 season and graduation hit to their varsity roster.
1). Jacqueline Cascione, Saugus, Senior – The Saugus senior’s 17:33 Central Park junior course record is light-years ahead of Kirsch’s best of 18:00 (set as a freshman in 2016), making her the heavy favorite to win Saugus’ 13th Foothill League individual crown in 14 years (only all-time greats Samantha Ortega and Mariah Castillo have run faster at Central Park). Also let it be known that no one wants Saugus to win another state title more than Cascione. The junior was filled with tears after “disappointing” runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2017 after helping Saugus win in 2015.
2). Hailey Kirsch, Valencia, Junior – Two-time CIF finalist Kirsch should contend for her third consecutive podium finish after third-place finishes in the 2016 and 2017 finales. A Viking has never won a Foothill League individual title …
3). Julia Pearson, Saugus, Sophomore – The fact that Pearson won the 2016 frosh/soph crown in the 10th fastest time of the day and scored at the CIF state finals, despite missing a majority of the season due to injury speaks volumes of how talented she is. Pearson and teammate Hannah Fredericks are the future of Saugus Girls’ Cross Country.
4). Hannah Fredericks, Saugus, Sophomore – Fredericks and Pearson both showed untapped potential and mental toughness rarely seen among freshman at this year’s CIF State Meet, running as Saugus’ No. 2 and 3 for half the race. The frosh/soph runner-up behind Pearson, Fredericks won the first two Foothill League races by a large margin.
5). Sophia Hoelzel, West Ranch, Senior – One of the best distance runners in the Foothill League when at her best, senior veteran returns for Wildcats and seeks her first podium finish after fourth-place finishes as a soph and junior.
6). Abigail Welch, West Ranch, Junior – After a big 2017 season, which saw the sophomore finish a huge fifth at this fall’s final, Welch looks to threaten the Foothill League’s best for a podium finish at the end of the 2018 season.
7). Amaya Aguilar, Saugus, Senior – A suicidal first mile at this year’s final saw Aguilar fade to sixth, the first All-Foothill League first team honor of her high school career. Aguilar’s improvement over the next year is vital if the Lady Centurions look to prevent Claremont from three-peating at next fall’s CIF State Cross Country Division 2 Finals.
8). Kaela Berretta, Saugus, Junior – Junior Berretta has earned two top eight Foothill League finishes and competed on two of Saugus’ runner-up state championship teams, despite injuries. Will 2018 be Berretta’s break-out season?
9). Shelbi Schauble, West Ranch, Senior – Twelfth in 2016 and seventh in 2017, West Ranch’s Schauble has nearly improved every season. Her biggest performance of her career was a stellar sixth-place finish at the 2015 finals as a frosh. Another steady improvement should see the track star earn All-Foothill League honors a fourth year.
10). Hailey Rutter, Saugus, Junior – Possessing Katie Dunn-like toughness, Rutter was the 2016 Foothill League F/S runner-up and ninth in the 2017 varsity final. Expect Rutter to appear on the next two state line-ups for Saugus.
11). Cassidy Molina, Saugus, Junior
12). Peyton Washington, West Ranch, Senior
13). Marissa Marti, Valencia, Senior
14). Shayla Cruz, Saugus, Senior
15). Marisa Rodriguez, Canyon, Senior
16). Tracy Sterkel, West Ranch, Junior
17). Maylani Perez, Saugus, Sophomore
18). Dani Salcedo, Saugus, Sophomore
19). Angelee Berganio, Canyon, Junior
20). Chandler Bietsch, Canyon, Sophomore
21). Kylie Rasplicka, Saugus, Senior
22). Joselyn Combs, Saugus, Sophomore
23). Sonia Avila, Hart, Senior
24). Sydney Makar, Valencia, Sophomore
25). Erin Miller, Golden Valley, Junior
This article originally appeared on Brando’s Blog. Republished here with permission.