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By Steve Breazeale

The 2013 season was a breakthrough year for the San Clemente boys cross country team, as they advanced to the CIF-SS Prelims for the first time since 1995. Head coach Dan Johnson said that the Triton runners, led by a strong group of juniors, have used that momentum to get them through a productive offseason.

A core group of four juniors will help lead San Clemente in 2014. Standouts Connor Dunne, Kaeden Carabba, Hunter Clark and Sean Riley have been racing alongside one another since their freshman year, and have developed a strong pack-running mentality that finally made an impact last year.

“As sophomores last year, they were either first or second-place in every other invitational we ran in as a group and it’s because we pack-run really well,” Johnson said. “They’re all about the same ability level and they all come in really tight packs and it enables us to score really low point values because of that pack-running.”

Seniors Matt Shelton and Josh Vollebregt also return to the veteran group.

The Tritons momentum carried over into their first race of the season at the Laguna Hills Invitational on Sept. 13. As a team the Tritons placed 10th overall at the event while the juniors finished fourth.

Johnson said that the Tritons will not field runners who can consistently hit the low 14-minute mark throughout the season. Instead, they will have several runners tightly bunched in the high 14 and low 15-minute range, depending on the course.

The Tritons will have their work cut out for them in the Sea View League, where CIF-SS Division 2 ranked Tesoro awaits. But this year, Johnson and the Tritons have their eyes set beyond just league competition.

“A lot of them worked really hard during the summer knowing they’ve got that potential,” Johnson said. “This year the goal is most definitely to make it to CIF Finals. CIF Prelims is not going to be good enough this year,”

Season Schedule:

Date                Opponent                                Location, Time

9/20                 Woodbridge Invitational          The Great Park, TBA

9/27                 Dana Hills Invitational             Dana Hills High School, TBA

10/7*               SVL Cluster (Boys)                  Irvine Regional Park, 1 p.m.

10/8*               SVL Cluster (Girls)                  Irvine Regional Park, 1 p.m.

10/18               OC Championships                  Irvine Regional Park, TBA

10/25               Mt. SAC Invitational                Mt. SAC, TBA

11/5*               SVL Finals (Boys)                   Irvine Regional Park, 1 p.m.

11/6*               SVL Finals (Girls)                    Irvine Regional Park, 1 p.m.

11/15               CIF Prelims                              Mt. SAC, TBA

11/22               CIF Finals                                Mt. SAC, TBA

*–denotes league meet

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