By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
Coming into the first Foothill League cross country meet, the Hart Indians boys were ranked No. 1 in Division 2 for cross country. The Indians kept to their rankings and won their first league race since 2005 on Thursday.
Injuries were the story of the meet. The Hart boys were without their top runner, Jaden Wiley, but despite the injuries for the Indians, head coach Derren James was confident they were going to perform well.
“Our strength is running as a pack,” said James. “It was a smaller race compared to the other races we have been in. Staying with the pack was the goal and we did a good job of that. Our time between our first and our fourth runner was within 30 seconds. With our No. 1 runner injured, it was great to see the core of the team run as well as they did.”
Out of the 49 runners for the boys, the top five scorers for the Indians finished in the top 12, with all seven of their runners finishing in the top 20. Of the top runners, the Indians also held the top spot for all boys with Paul Mangione, who ran a time of 15:32.18 in the 3-mile race. Owen Ahten finished fourth with a time of 15:36.02 and Carson DeSpain finished right behind him in fifth with a time of 18:56.62.
Rounding out the top five for the boys, the Valencia Vikings’ Joseph Pohlot finished in second place with a time of 15:34.31, just about two seconds behind Mangione, and Jacob Fredericks of Saugus High finishing third with a time of 15:36.02.
“I think overall, finishing where I did was a result of all the hard work I put in,” said Mangione. “Honestly, it wasn’t what I expected. I wanted to see how much I can push myself in the end. At the end it felt unreal because I was unable to grasp what I had accomplished in the race. The next race is a much bigger stage. We’re definitely looking to take it up a notch, give it our all and see what we’re capable of as a team.”
The next Foothill League matchup is scheduled to be at the Palos Verdes Invitational on Friday at Palos Verdes. The time is still waiting to be determined.