NORCO – The Woodbridge Classic is one of the country’s largest high school cross country meets and generally regarded as one of the fastest.
The 37th edition didn’t disappoint Saturday.
Orange County runners got their share of the spotlight and personal records all around as Capistrano Valley’s Haley Herberg and Canyon’s Sara Leonard got top-five finishes in the girls sweepstakes and the El Toro earned sixth in the boys sweepstakes under the lights at the SilverLakes Sports Complex.
“I really enjoy it,” Herberg said of the nighttime environment. “Honestly, I don’t know if it necessarily actually makes us run faster, but being at night, being kind of dark, our coach is just telling us to really enjoy the act of running.”
Herberg enjoyed her night with a third-place finish in the Bob Day’s girls sweepstakes. The Capo Valley senior posted a time of 16-minutes even, which was a 45-second improvement on her personal record set at last year’s Woodbridge event.
“I’m really happy with that,” Herberg said. “That was not was I was expecting.”
Similarly, Leonard couldn’t believe her fifth-place time of 16:05, a 52-second improvement on her lifetime-best.
“It feels pretty amazing,” Leonard said. “I crossed the line and I was like, ‘woah, no way!’ I definitely was not expecting that, but when you put in the work, awesome things can happen.”
The Canyon senior was running at night for the second week in a row after a win at the Cool Breeze Inviational in Pasadena, a rarity with most cross country events running in the mornings.
“I really like running under the lights,” Leonard said. “The weather out here is perfect, the competition is so great, the energy is off the chart. All those things coming together made it a great environment to run fast.”
Kelli Hines of Mission Viejo finished 12th with a time of 16:34, and Ashley Messineo of El Toro finished 18th at 16:41. Both times were personal records.
El Toro held the highest county team placing in both races at 10th in the girls sweepstakes and sixth in the Bob Speck’s boys sweepstakes.
The El Toro boys were paced by Adrian Vargas in 13th place at 14:29, a personal record.
“I think we’re looking great,” Vargas said of his team’s success. “We don’t want to give everything so early, but for the shape we’re at now, I think we’re doing pretty good.”
Vargas also applauded a change of…