CROSS COUNTRY: Mira Costa places five in the top nine to win boys Cup title. By Tony Ciniglio STAFF WRITER The South Bay Cup was designed to be a showcase for the area’s cross country teams, so one can imagine the furor when Saugus was invited to participate this season. “All I wanted was for the South Bay to represent today,” said Adler, who covered the flat, 2.9-mile course at Columbia Park in 15 minutes. “I didn’t want Saugus to come in here and show us up. With about 800 meters left, I made my move, and I was thinking what a good win this would be for our team.” Adler spoiled the feel-good story of Leuzinger’s Jose Lezama, who finished in second place in 15:03 despite only one practice session since winning the Bay League’s opening meet last week. Mira Costa’s Danny Kalinowski took third place in 15:12. Adam Conover secured sixth place in 15:25, and Mitchell Giles rounded out Mira Costa’s pack with a ninth-place finish in 15:28, not allowing much of an opening for the other teams. Redondo twins Cody and Simon Schmidt (rest) and West Torrance front runner Andrew McCarty (sickness) missed the race. But Lezama, Kalinowski and Adler finished 1-2-3 at the opening Bay League meet with the Schmidts and McCarty competing. “It wasn’t so much a preview of Bay League 2 as it was a rematch of Bay League 1,” Adler said. “A lot of West and Redondo runners were not here, so we can’t read too much into the results. “But I love how our team is running right now. We’ve done everything right so far and we’re training well. We just need to keep this up.” Hard-charging Alex Rosales of San Pedro finished fifth in 15:24, just behind Saugus’ Brandon Jauregui (15:23). Other South Bay top 10 finishers included South Torrance’s Tyler Almeida (seventh, 15:26) and North Torrance’s David Archila (eighth, 15:27). Lezama certainly grabbed more attention. Lezama, last year’s Bay League runner-up, originally did not intend to run this season to focus on soccer. But he made a surprise appearance at the opening Bay League meet and won the race last week. “Every time I go to these meets, people know me,” Lezama said. “I’m definitely staying with cross country now. And the people who gave me encouragement made me want to come back.” Lezama, bothered by a thigh injury suffered at a soccer practice, had only one practice session – a two-mile run. Lezama went out with Kalinowski early, but did not have the energy to pass Adler at the end. “Going out with (Kalinowski) in the first mile killed me. He was going too fast,” Lezama said. “Maybe if I had been training … I might’ve got the other guy at the end. “I’m going to start putting soccer aside to focus on running.” Murphy did her best to uphold the South Bay’s reputation on the girls side, eclipsing the 17:25 course record she set as a freshman with her 17:24 mark. But Saugus flexed its collective muscles as two runners shattered Murphy’s previous record. Champion Katie Dunn ran the 2.9-mile course in 16:53, and Kaylin Mahoney followed in second at 17:15. After Murphy, Saugus had the next four runners – Brianna Jauregui (17:25), Amber Murakami (17:46), Anne Randall (17:50) and Nina Moore (18:00) – for 18 points, beating Mira Costa (49), which ran without Shadeh Tabatabai (sickness). “They were all really good – it’s OK losing to them because they are such an insane team,” Murphy said. “That’s exactly what a cross country team should be. Hopefully, we’ll get to that point eventually.” Saugus is coached by former San Pedro resident Rene Paragas, who ran at El Camino College in the mid-1990s. And Saugus did not take this event lightly. “It felt like a small meet, especially compared to Woodbridge, but we came to compete,” Dunn said. “Every race, we’re going to push hard to make people aware of us.” West Torrance’s Elena Inouye posted a strong eighth-place finish in 18:17, finishing ahead of Mira Costa’s Aleyna LaCroix (18:30) and Savannah Pio (18:31). Inouye placed third last season. “Having Saugus here provided more competition for sure,” Inouye said. “It was like `Wow’. You were envious of them, but it made you work harder too. When I passed a Saugus girl, it was cool because I was passing a girl on a nationally ranked team.” email@example.comWant local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Granted, Saugus is a bona fide cross country power, its girls ranked No. 3 nationally by Harrier’s and its boys a solid CIF Southern Section Division I program. Yet this event was supposed to be a South Bay exclusive, not a battle to uphold the area’s reputation. Luckily, Mira Costa stood its ground for the South Bay. The Mira Costa boys, led by Alex Adler’s strong performance, posted an impressive win over a Division I opponent by packing five runners into the top nine for a score of 30 points, easily outdistancing second-place Saugus (68). No one was going to beat the Saugus girls, but Mira Costa’s Kevyn Murphy broke up the Centurions’ pack with an eye-opening third-place finish, the only South Bay runner to crack the top seven.