Cross Country climbs to top three at SCC Championships

The+Warriors+men%27s+and+women%27s+cross-country+team+placed+second+an+third%2C+respectively%2C+at+Friday%27s+South+Coast+Conference+Championships+in+Palos+Verdes.+Photo+credit%3A+Shontel+Leake

The Warriors men's and women's cross-country team placed second an third, respectively, at Friday's South Coast Conference Championships in Palos Verdes. Photo credit: Shontel Leake

Located just beyond the baseball diamonds at the Lunada Bay fields lies one of the highest perches in the sport of cross country.

The behemoth, known as “Agony Hill” to runners all across the South Bay, is the centerpiece of the Palos Verdes course, which is often regarded as one of the toughest in the state.

The dreadful climb served as the runner’s main obstacle Friday afternoon, as El Camino competed in the 2015 South Coast Conference Championships along with Mt. San Antonio, Cerritos, East L.A., Long Beach and Pasadena City College for the league title.

The Warriors were up to the challenge, conquering Agony Hill and placing third as a team in the women’s race, while the men’s team was the runner up to Mt. SAC, a team ranked no. 2 in the state.

Coach Dean Lofgren was pleased with the performance and said that both of his teams were “focused” and ran the course well.

“Collectively as a group they ran really well together,” Lofgren said of the men’s team. “Second in our conference is very good, our conference is so competitive, it’s a really good confidence-booster for the guys.”

Freshman Solomon Kanehailua led the Warriors, placing eighth overall with a 23:22 time, followed by freshmen Jacob Helfgott (11th; 23:50), Michael Moody (13th, 24:04), David Hodges (15th; 24:12) and Jesus Dorado (16th; 24:16), according to results verified by Lofgren.

Kanehailua felt surprised about finishing in the top 10 and the ease of running the difficult course.

“I didn’t know I was in the top 10, I just did my race,” Kanehailua said. “It wasn’t necessarily hard, but I was trying to remember the course. his is the course that everyone in this area runs (in high school).”

Fellow runner Moody felt their was a familiarity with the course, and beating out Cerritos was a good feeling.

“Most of the other schools had not run this course before, so we were able to say that we know this course and the other schools don’t,” Moody said. “(Cerritos) were going to get out hard and we let them do that. We said we can get them in the finish and that’s exactly what we did.”

Moody credited Lofgren for the team’s improvement, saying that he coaches everyone on an individual and a team level.

Lofgren has seen the women improve as well, even through adversity.

“The girls ran real tough today. Individually they ran well, we had a couple of illnesses this week,” Lofgren said. “Judith (Torres) was sick all week with some stomach problems, and so was Jacquelin (Rodriguez), our fourth and fifth runners, but they still ran solid even being ill.”

Sophomore Hannah Griffie led the Warriors, finishing sixth overall with a 21:44 time, followed by freshmen Jennifer Villarreal (12th; 22:27), Xiomara Perkins (16th; 22:49), sophomore Torres (26th; 23:48) and freshman Jacquelin Rodriguez (28th; 24:03), according to results verified by Lofgren.

The Warriors will look to qualify for state next week, at the CCCAA SoCal Regional Championships on Nov. 6 at Mission Bay Park in San Diego.