IRVINE — Dana Hills junior Evan Noonan has continued the school’s legacy of producing elite cross country talent with his accomplishments since he joined the program in 2021.
At the Woodbridge Classic at the Great Park on Saturday night, he raised the bar a few notches for future Dolphins.
Competing against the state’s top runners, Noonan ran down several runners over the final 400 meters to finish first in the Doug Specks Sweepstakes race in 13 minutes, 41.3 seconds.
The junior went from 20th place at the 1-mile mark to fifth place at the second mile before finding an extra gear in a sprint to the finish line.
Evan Noonan takes a selfie with his mother, Helena Noonan, after finishing first against an elite field of runners in the Doug Specks Sweepstakes Race at the Woodbridge Classic on Saturday at the Great Park. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)
“The finish was exactly what I was looking for,” Noonan said. “Coming down the stretch, just knowing that I got a little more, and that I’ve saved a little more for later in the race, just helped so much, and just gave me that confidence to go forward and pursue that finish line.”
Times were impacted slightly for all runners because the course was 3.02 miles, not the standard 3 miles.
“I wasn’t really worried about time today since the courses have been changed, but just coming out here and just racing and knowing that I can run this time this early in the season, it’s just a huge morale boost towards postseason, state and nationals,” Noonan said.
San Clemente’s Brett Ephraim finished seventh in the sweepstakes race, leading the Tritons to a fifth-place finish as a team.
Dana Hills and Trabuco Hills finished eighth and 11th, respectively, in the team competition of the boys sweepstakes race.
The JSerra girls team once again established itself as the team to beat in Southern California and likely the state.
The Lions finished second as a team and were the top finishing team in California in the Bob Day Sweepstakes Race.
The JSerra girls cross country team finished in second place in the Bob Day Sweepstakes Race at the Woodbridge Classic on Satutrday at the Great Park. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)
The two-time defending state champion Lions improved on their fourth-place finish from the 2022 Woodbridge Classic and finished ahead of powerhouse Buchanan, one of the state’s best teams.
Scoring for the Lions were Brynn Garcia, Kaylah Tasser, Summer Wilson, Reese Holley and Georgia Jeanneret.
“For us, this is a good shot to race against some of the best teams from around the country,” JSerra coach Chase Frazier said. “We don’t get to see them until the end of the year, so this is really good for us. But for us, we’ve never beaten Buchanan, and they’ve been the standard in California for past few years. They didn’t hold back. They ran with a lot of passion tonight.”
Trabuco Hills junior Holly Barker finished 10th in the sweepstakes race.
Junior Holly Barker of Trabuco Hills finished in 10th place against an elite field of runners in the Bob Day Sweepstakes Race at the Woodbridge Classic on Saturday at the Great Park. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)
Barker, who transferred to Trabuco Hills this season from Laguna Hills, was competing in her first 3-mile race of the season.
Barker competed in the Woodbridge Classic two years ago as a freshman when the meet was held at Silver Lakes in Norco.
“I anticipated that everyone else would take it out real fast,” Barker said. “But I know that my weakness, I don’t really like going out fast. I like being a consistent runner. So, it’s definitely a challenge to try and compete with some of these girls out there. In my mind, it’s like if they’re next to me in the beginning, and if they’re next to me in the end, I’m at the disadvantage. But where I can take it hard is in the middle.”
Marley McCullough of Newport Harbor and El Toro’s Gweneth Williams took second and third, respectively, against a fine field of runners in the Girls Varsity Rated Race.
McCullough finished in 17:06.5, two-tenths of a second ahead of Williams.
Marley McCullough of Newport Harbor finished second against a field of top runners in the Rated Varsity Race at the Woodbridge Classic on Saturday at the Geat Park. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)
“I let it go,” McCullough said. “I was like, if I fall over and faint at the finish line, then whatever, at least I finished the race.”