Saddleback Cup Challenge
Last updated on September 5th at 7:18 pm
Trabuco Hills HS: 27501 Cordova Road, Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Teams Competing – (Along with Pre Season SS Ranking): Aliso Niguel, Brea, Crean Luthern, El Toro (D2 Boys #8, Girl #5), Mission Viejo (D3 Boys #7), Newport Harbor, Northwood, Portola, Redondo Union (D1 Girls D1 #6), Santa Margarita (Boys D3 #2, Girls #9) & Trabuco Hills (D1 Boys #2, Girls #3). This is a small meet but loaded with a number of not just top teams in Southern Sections but State!!
How are divisions determined in XC? Unlike other sports, divisions are determined by school enrollment. For example, ET has 2078 students (D2 – 2021 to 2470), missing D3 by just 57 students but has to compete against team like Ventura who’s boys and girls are ranked #1 in all divisions in the Southern Section. Teams compete against other divisions not just at invites but at the league meets as well.
Date: Friday, September 1, 2023
Attendance/Roll: The Roll will be taken at the meet. Do not go to 7th period at 3:05 pm
Spectators: All are welcome and free.
Parking: Free in all parking lots.
Everyone Races (with coach’s approval) – Mandatory Meet. ET was undefeated at this meet since its inception in 2017 until the loss in 2022. Let’s get the Cup back! If possible, please arrive early/stay late to watch all our races and support your teammates. Please arrive at least 90 min prior to your race. The race Roster will be posted at practice on the week of the race! This is a mandatory meet, if you are unable to attend and send in a request through XC Stats Absence Report. If you are approved, you will be excused but will have to turn in a makeup assignment.
Bus Schedule: No transportation is provided for this meet. Please turn in your Transportation Exemption Form and arrive early.
Weather Conditions for the Saddleback Cup
2023 Race Schedule
- 6:00 pm Girls JV
- 6:20 pm Boys JV
- 6:35 pm Girls Frosh
- 6:55 pm Boys Frosh
- 7:10 pm Girls Varsity
- 7:25 pm Boys Varsity
2023 Runners of the Meet
- Girls JV – Amanda Chi
- Boys JV – Jonah Alvarez
- Girls Frosh – Aryssa Negahdauree
- Boys Frosh – Levi Varela
- Girls Varsity – Sara Johnson
- Boys Varsity – Daniel Bulalacao
2023 Race Recap
This year at the Saddleback Cup Challenge, El Toro opened the season at Trabuco Hills High School competing against a quality field of athletes from Aliso Niguel, Brea Olinda, Crean Lutheran, Mission Viejo, Northwood, Portola, Redondo Union, Santa Margarita and Trabuco Hills. This is the third year the meet was run at the Trabuco Hills High School campus race course after previously being held at El Toro High School from 2017 to 2020. The Chargers came into their first race ready to test their fitness after a big summer of miles. Races are listed below in the order in which they were run.
JV Girls: The meet started out with a bang with our JV girls taking the win in easy fashion. Junior Elizabeth Smorick, moving down from varsity to JV due to a lingering hip injury, led from the gun with fellow juniors Avery Miller, Charlotte Barkehanai and sophomore Riley Pratt closely following behind as they crossed the halfway point in positions 1-4. At one point, coaches thought a perfect score of 15 was in play as senior Christina Jain was quickly moving up through the field. Christina did successfully end up with a fifth place finish, but a fast-closing Mission Viejo athlete broke up the sweep by taking 4th place. All and all, the race showed the tremendous depth of this girls squad. Huge performances from Amanda Chi (6th for El Toro and 11th overall) and Kiana Mehranfard-Duran rounded out our top seven. Miranda Mora, Kelly Cuevas, Morgan Raguse, Allison Castillo (running on an injured leg) and Amelia Nguyen rounded out our top 12. In the end, Improvements from this group was very impressive. All but one had new shiny PR and a few as much as 4 minutes. The team won easily over Trabuco Hills by 40 points.
JV Boys: The boys junior varsity race can be boiled down to a dominant winning effort from junior Rogan Arriaga and dramatic time improvements across the remainder of the squad. From the gun, Rogan took a sizeable lead and never looked back, running wire to wire and winning by 20 seconds with a time of 10:06.4. The only individual within the near vicinity of Rogan was the lead bike rider, and even Rogan passed him for a large portion of the 2nd mile! It was a great effort for him, and he looked just as fit and sharp as he was in the summer. He will rejoin the varsity team at the Woodbridge Invitational. Behind Rogan was a quality team of boys who have put together a fantastic summer of training, and the finish times reflected this. If we do not include Rogan, the average improvement per athlete from last year was an incredible 1:59. Remember, this is for a 2-mile race! The four boys rounding out the top 5 scorers behind Rogan were Gavin Crocker, Zander Barrera, Luke Cymbor and Michael Stout. Gavin and Zander ran confident and controlled races, with Luke and Michael following not far behind with strong 2nd miles. In the end, the team finished 3rd overall with 3 athletes running under 11:00, 7 under 12:00 and 21 under 13:00. Many of these boys have more to give, as well! The coaching staff is excited to see how this team competes at the Woodbridge Invitational in 2 weeks and beyond. What a fantastic start for this JV team. The hard work has paid off!
Frosh Girls: As expected, this group of freshmen are exceptional. No surprises here! Unfortunately, Elle Craib, one of our top girls, sat out due to an Achilles tendon injury, but the rest of her teammates were ready to step up in her absence. The level of the opposition is always an unknown in freshmen races, but the coaching staff was confident that Samantha Danaher and Jayla Chan would finish near the front. They did not disappoint! Sam finished second In 12:39.7 with Jayla closing fast behind her in third place in 12:42.3. Sam and Jàyla both secured their varsity warmups by finishing 8th and 9th on the team. Norah Storm, Lauren Banner and Aryssa (Nasi) Negahdauree rounded out the top 5. Aryssa, only training with the team for just over 2 weeks, stepped up big for the Chargers. Alex Dutra was our sixth runner of the day. The team took 3rd place, just missing second by 5 points. At full strength, the sky is the limit with this group of girls!
Frosh Boys: Hopes were high that the freshman boys would start the year as winners, and they responded with an 11-point victory over 2nd place. The freshman boys team came into the season as fit as any freshman team has been in the last 15 years of the program, and it showed in their performance on the course. First ever race, first ever victory! The freshmen were led by an impressive performance by Levi Varela, who placed 4th with a time of 10:50.5. Levi ended up as the 7th fastest El Toro athlete of the day across all levels and set the school record for Saddleback Cup freshmen performances. Absolutely outstanding effort! Not to be outdone, his teammate Cole Bulman was only 10 seconds behind him, finishing 7th in the race and showing his time trial performances over the summer were for real. The top 5 was rounded out by strong races by Kyle Doherty, Aritra Chakraborty and Asher Gould. The two other athletes rounding out our top 7, Aiden Bulman and Jason Aldridge, were not 100% during the race, and we are confident that once they are healthy they will be side-by-side with our top 5. The sky is the limit for this team! Others in the race who performed well were Caleb Lee, Jacob Snider, Sam Williams and Xavier Lee. Xavier is a huge success story this summer, and his coaches can’t get over the 14:40 time he ran. What a great day for this young team!
Varsity Girls: We had high hopes of bringing the cup back to El Toro this year, but Trabuco Hills was simply too strong on the day. It was sizing up to be tough undertaking with last year’s top individual in the county transferring to Trabuco Hills earlier in the summer. Our girls gave it their all and came home with a Saddleback Cup Team Time Record of 58:51. Freshman Gwen Williams led the team and took fourth overall, running with some of the top girls in county. Gwen went on to set a new ET meet record in 11:10! We knew Gwen was a special athlete, but without any race-specific work that mark this early in the season still surprised all of us. The girls got stuck in the back of the race at the start, but moved up nicely to take home second-place honors. Lucy Varela, Dakota Danaher, Leilani Vivaldo and Sara Johnson, who stepped up big for the team, were our top 5 scorers. Evelyn Gonzalez and Kathy Rivera rounded out the varsity team. All the girls came home with a new meet PR. They will build on this performance as they take on some of the best teams in the country at the Woodbridge Invitational in two weeks.
Varsity Boys: The varsity boys came into the meet with a young squad, with only senior Diego Venegas and junior Daniel Bulalacao having previous varsity racing experience and junior Rogan Arriaga competing in the JV race. Joining Daniel and Diego was junior Christian Throop and sophomores Josh Barron, Takumi Washiyama, Wyatt Fishburn and Andrew Flores. The race started fast in the front, and Daniel showed poise early on by finding a position near the top 10 with Diego in tow and Christian not far behind. Following them were the group of sophomores packed together. Daniel held strong and had a great finish, ending in 6th with a time of 9:38.2, a 30 second improvement from last year. With his time, Daniel also set the ET Junior record and is now ranked #3 on the El Toro Saddleback Cup all time performance list! Diego had an off day this race but held on tough, and Christian had a solid effort finishing just 5 seconds behind him. Sophomores Josh and Takumi rounded out our top 5, both finishing within the top 7 sophomores in the field across all teams. Wyatt and Andrew finished soon after them. Overall, the boys team finished in 5th place. The team now sets their eyes on the Woodbridge Invitational with junior Rogan Arriaga returning to the squad. They will take away some nice lessons from this meet racing against quality competition.