Women of Steele running to top of cross-country chart

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The Steele Canyon High School girls’ cross-country team has stepped off the season in championship form. That’s not totally surprising, according to head coach Pat Connolly.

“The girls have really got a solid team,” explained Connolly after the Cougars ran to their latest invitational championship last Friday, Sept. 9, at Chula Vista’s Rohr Park. “We have good balance of newcomers and veterans. This is probably the most depth and the most talent we’ve ever had at the school.”

The Steele Canyon High School girls’ cross-country team has stepped off the season in championship form. That’s not totally surprising, according to head coach Pat Connolly.

“The girls have really got a solid team,” explained Connolly after the Cougars ran to their latest invitational championship last Friday, Sept. 9, at Chula Vista’s Rohr Park. “We have good balance of newcomers and veterans. This is probably the most depth and the most talent we’ve ever had at the school.”

Steele Canyon High School opened in 2000.

The Cougars topped the 13-deep Varsity Blue Division at last Friday’s Mustang Invitational with a meet-low 65 points. The East County powerhouse shaded City Conference power Scripps Ranch by four points for the team championship while South County power Eastlake finished third with 83 points.

Among individuals on the 2.3-mile course, Steele Canyon runners finished seventh (senior Areli Diaz, 13:53), 11th (freshman Makenzie Wray, 14:04), 13th (sophomore Jessica Manzuk, 14:07), 14th (senior Alissa Roesch, 14:11) and 20th (freshman Trinity Birdwell, 14:30) in the 92-deep field.

Steele Canyon’s top five scorers turned in a phenomenal spread of 37 seconds. An elated Connolly was particularly impressed by the 26-second spread between the team’s second through fifth place-finishers.

For good measure, another top Cougar, junior Carlene Masar, was 33rd in 14:52. Connolly expects her to move up as the season develops.

Connolly said team goals this season are to win the Grossmont Hills League championship, secure a top three finish at the San Diego Section Division II finals and notch a top 10 finish at the state championship meet.

“We want to be the fastest team in school history,” Connolly said.

Steele Canyon looks to be a force in the future after the Cougars won the 1.65-mile girls Junior Varsity Division race as well. Steele Canyon was dominate, out-scoring runner-up Valhalla by a score of 24-90.

Sophomore Janelle Shallal finished second among individuals in 10:45 to lead the Cougars, who produced an even better 17-second spread between their first and fifth scorers in the race.

Junior Shannon Rhodes (10:54) was fourth in the race for Steele Canyon, followed by sophomore Molly Rehl (10:58), junior Lauren Farris (seventh, 11:00) and senior Ami Patel (10th, 11:02).

Freshman Patil Kassabian led Valhalla across the finish line in eighth place in 11:01.

Stepping off

Mountain Empire freshman Jose Arredondo captured top individual honors in the boys JV Silver Division race (2.3 miles) in 12:55 while freshman teammate AnnaBelle Braswell finished second in the girls JV Silver Division race (1.65 miles) in 10:40.

Steele Canyon senior Luis Pina (16:22) was seventh among individuals in the boys Varsity Blue Division race while junior teammate Matt Scarlett (16:39) was 11th.

Valhalla junior Kyle Gabrielson (16:45) placed 13th in the boys Varsity Blue Division race while Foothills Christian senior Kacey Butrovich (15:38) secured a 10th-place finish among individuals in the girls Varsity Silver Division race.

Steele Canyon finished fifth in the boys Varsity Blue Division (102 points) and was sixth in the boys JV Blue Division team standings (165 points).

Valhalla was seventh in the boys Varsity Blue Division (132 points) and 10th in the girls Varsity Blue Division (245 points).

Helix was eighth in the boys Varsity Blue Division (219 points) and 11th in the girls Varsity Blue Division (294 points).

Monte Vista finished sixth in both JV gender races.

The boys JV Blue Division race featured 234 finishers while the girls JV Blue Division race featured 221 finishers. A total of 967 finishers competed in all eight divisional races at this year’s Mustang Invitational.

Next up is Saturday’s (Sept. 17) Mt. Carmel/Movin’ Shoes Invitational at San Diego’s Morley Field. The first of 16 races during the day starts at 8:30 a.m.

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