The Saddleback women's cross country team finished third on Friday at the Orange Empire Conference Finals at William Mason Park in Irvine. Freshman Caroline Dagarin led the Gauchos, finishing 11th overall.
In what has been one of the strangest seasons in harrier history, Saddleback looks like a team coming together at the right time. The Gauchos started the season with a van accident on the freeway, setting back the conditioning schedule 2-3 weeks and leaving them without their top runner for the entire season.
The rest of the team stepped up on Friday, led by Dagarin. The freshman from Mission Viejo had one of her better runs of the year, finishing the 5k-course in 20:31.15 and just 25 seconds out of a top-5 finish.
Dagarin led a Gaucho squad whose top five runners all finished in the top-20 for the day. She was followed by Angel Vallier (14th), Andrea Loyola (15th), Kimberly Jovanus (16th) and Rachel Oberschelp (20th), leaving Saddleback 15 points back of second place Orange Coast and 27 points ahead of fourth place Santa Ana.
Dagarin and the Gauchos will be back on the trail next Friday at the Southern California Finals at Mission Bay. Race time is set for 11:00 AM
Orange Coast 61
Santa Ana 103
Santiago Canyon 116
Golden West 210