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Cross-Country: Individual efforts highlight Brubaker Invitational

Freshman+Solomon+Kanehailua+leads+the+middle+of+the+pack+for+El+Camino+at+the+Brubaker+Invitational+on+Friday%2C+placing+28th+overall+behind+freshman+teammate%2C+David+Hodges%2C+who+placed+22nd+overall.+Photo+credit%3A+Roy+Garza
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Cross-Country: Individual efforts highlight Brubaker Invitational

Freshman Solomon Kanehailua leads the middle of the pack for El Camino at the Brubaker Invitational on Friday, placing 28th overall behind freshman teammate, David Hodges, who placed 22nd overall. Photo credit: Roy Garza

Freshman Solomon Kanehailua leads the middle of the pack for El Camino at the Brubaker Invitational on Friday, placing 28th overall behind freshman teammate, David Hodges, who placed 22nd overall. Photo credit: Roy Garza

Freshman Solomon Kanehailua leads the middle of the pack for El Camino at the Brubaker Invitational on Friday, placing 28th overall behind freshman teammate, David Hodges, who placed 22nd overall. Photo credit: Roy Garza

Freshman Solomon Kanehailua leads the middle of the pack for El Camino at the Brubaker Invitational on Friday, placing 28th overall behind freshman teammate, David Hodges, who placed 22nd overall. Photo credit: Roy Garza

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The terrain at Irvine Regional Park is diverse, with healthy green grass, trees on one side and dirt hills with cactus on the other and a rocky riverbed separating the two.

The course, coupled with the scorching heat, made for a stiff challenge Friday morning as the El Camino men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed in the Howard Brubaker invitational.

The women’s team finished fifth in a nine-team field, while the men placed seventh out of 11 teams, according to results from Coach Dean Lofgren.

The women raced first and EC was led by freshman Jennifer Villarreal, who placed 12th overall with a 21:12 time, according to results from Coach Lofgren.

The Warriors have been led by sophomore Hannah Griffie the previous three races, but this week saw Villarreal step up to the top spot.

“Jennifer ran very well and Hannah is normally with her – or in front – of her, but she was close today,” Lofgren said.

Griffie was second for EC placing 17th overall at 21:25, followed by sophomore Xiomara Perkins (24th; 22:18), freshman Jaquelin Rodriguez (29th; 22:46), and sophomore Judith Torres (39th; 23:44), according to results from Coach Lofgren.

The Warriors again ran without Torres at 100 percent, but the emergence of Villarreal helps the team going forward.

“Although we have yet to have all of our women firing on all cylinders on the same day/race, we ran well enough to likely move up considerably in the regional rankings this week,” Lofgren said.

The men then followed up, seeing their pack tighten in the middle with freshmen Michael Moody and Jacob Helfgott continuing to get closer to EC’s top runners, freshmen David Hodges and Solomon Kanehailua.

“Even if (the team) didn’t place too well, we were all pretty close together when we all finished as a group,” Kanehailua said.

Hodges led EC finishing 22nd overall with a 22:48 time, followed by Kanehailua (28th; 23:21), Moody (31st; 23:01), Helfgott (39th; 23:33), and freshman James Flores (51st; 24:15), according to results from Coach Lofgren.

Former individual state champion (2010) and current assistant coach David Cardona felt there was both good and bad things to take away from Friday’s race.

“It was tough,” Cardona said. “We had David and Solomon as our one-two punch, Solomon was hurting a bit but worked together with teammate Michael Moody to move up, and Jacob has been (making) an improvement as well.”

The Warriors will travel to Mt. San Antonio’s iconic hills for the challenging Mt. SAC Invitational on Oct. 16.

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Cross-Country: Individual efforts highlight Brubaker Invitational