Great Oak High is in Temecula north of San Diego, but its cross country teams couldn’t be faulted if they called Woodward Park home.
Great Oak swept the girls and boys elite-division team races Saturday at the 40th Asics Clovis Invitational, arguably the state’s premier in-season event. It gives runners a look at the 5,000-meter course employed at the state meet, which will be Saturday, Nov. 24.
Great Oak had 100-point-plus wins in both races, impressive against elite competition, and marked itself as the school to beat. Its girls have won six straight state Division I titles at Woodward, the boys four straight.
Buchanan’s dynamic duo of junior Corie Smith and senior Meagen Lowe were right there in the girls race, finishing 3-4 behind winner Tori Gaitan of Great Oak and runner-up Riley Chamberlain of Del Oro-Loomis. Smith and Lowe finished 1-2 in last year’s state meet in 17:16.7 and 17:19.8, respectively; Saturday, they clocked in at 17:19.1 and 17:31.9, respectively. Gaitan ran 17:09.7.
Buchanan finished fourth as a team behind Great Oak, St. Francis-Sacramento and Xavier Prep-Phoenix.
Liam Anderson of Redwood-Larkspur, last year’s state D-III champion, won the boys championship race Saturday iin 14:57.08. Clovis North junior Isaiah Galindo was the top central San Joaquin Valley finisher in 28th (15:42.6), edging Monache senior Ivan Mendez (15:42.9).
Clovis North was sixth in the girls extra-large race led by freshman Miliana Perez’s third-place finish.
Clovis West was second in the girls large-school race.
Buchanan’s Kelly Brewer was fifth in the boys extra-large race.