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By Zach Cavanagh
Both the Dana Hills boys and girls cross country teams qualified for the promised land of the state meet, and the Dolphins once again have an individual section champion.
Dana Hills senior Jai Dawson bested the Division 2 field by five seconds to win and was crowned a CIF-SS champion at the CIF-SS Finals on Saturday, Nov. 20 at Mt. San Antonio College.
Dawson is the first Dolphin runner to win a CIF-SS individual title since Jake Ogden won the 2013 Division 1 title and just the third overall. Tyler Valdez also won the Division 1 title in 2008, which he followed up with a state individual title.
Dawson’s time of 14:55 on the 2.93-mile course paced Dana Hills, as the rest of the Dolphins finished well enough to finish in sixth place as a team and claim one of the seven team-qualifying spots for the state meet.
The Dana Hills girls finished fourth as a team to claim their spot in the state meet, as well.
The CIF State Championships will run on Saturday, Nov. 27, at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Dawson’s run was his second-fastest on the season, eclipsed only by a time of 14:34 on the full 3-mile course of the South Coast League Finals. The CIF-SS title race was also Dawson’s fifth win of the season, with previous victories at the Mt. Carmel Invitational, Orange County Championships, Mt. SAC Invitational and South Coast League Finals.
Dawson’s run was also the sixth-fastest of the entire CIF-SS Finals across all divisions. Dawson’s time was only bettered by Pasadena’s Isaiah Givens at 14:48 in Division 3 and a four-way finish of Newbury Park runners in Division 1, all of whom finished at 14:52 and are considered the greatest cross country team of all time.
After Dawson, the next Dana Hills runner in was junior Jack Jones in 26th at 15:41. Senior Nick Burke finished in 45th at 16:06, senior Nathan Scheer finished in 48th at 16:08, and freshman Evan Noonan finished in 62nd at 16:20. Dana Hills comfortably qualified for state in sixth with 167 points, ahead of seventh-place Foothill at 185 and first-team-out Thousand Oaks at 203.
On the girls side, junior Allura Markow posted another stellar run to finish fifth in Division 2 with a time of 17:38. Markow led the way as the Dolphins easily qualified for state in fourth place with 119 points.
Freshman Annie Ivarsson came in next for Dana Hills in 19th with a time of 18:38, and not far behind was sophomore Paige Scheer in 22nd at a time of 18:39. Sophomore Tessa Anderson finished 30th at 18:51, and sophomore Cooper Murphy rounded out the scoring five in 60th at 19:46.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at email@example.com.