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Santa Ynez senior Johnny Jimenez, in orange at front left, will run with teammates at the CIF State Cross Country championships Saturday. Also running will be Santa Ynez teammate Eric Moniot and Lompoc's Isaac Acosta, right.

Len Wood, Staff

Months of work for several area cross country runners will culminate with an appearance at the state meet today.

The Santa Ynez boys team will run at the CIF State Cross Country Championships that will take part at storied Woodward Park in Fresno. So will Arroyo Grande senior Leza Cassidy, Lompoc junior Isaac Acosta and Orcutt Academy junior Daniel Ordonez.

Runners will compete on a 5K course. 

Coming off a third-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Division 4 finals at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut last week, the Santa Ynez squad will race at 10:10 a.m. today in the Division IV Boys race. Acosta will run shortly before, at 9:40 a.m., in the Division III Boys race.

Cassidy, in her third state meet appearance, will run at 11:45 a.m. in Division II and Ordonez will race at 12:20 p.m. in the Division 5 Boys competition.

Johnny Jimenez, the Los Padres League individual winner and the Pirates' top finisher at the sectional finals, looks to lead the LPL champions at the state meet. The rest of Santa Ynez's lineup at the sectional finals consisted of Brian Illes, Tommy Hill, Cody Hill, Grehson Smith, Dennis Rojas and Eric Moniot.

Acosta and Ordonez are both making their first appearance at the state meet.

"Getting to the state cross country meet has been my goal since the last track season ended, and now I'm going," said Acosta.

The Lompoc junior acknowledged after the race that, immediately after he finished, he wasn't sure whether or not he had advanced.

"I was thinking, "OK, I passed a lot of guys near the end.' But then I was thinking, 'But I finished behind a lot of guys.'" 

Cassidy, Acosta and Ordonez finished ahead of enough people to get to the state meet. Individuals from non-qualifying teams at the section finals advanced if they finished fifth among runners from non-qualifying squads and in the top 20 overall.

All three locals squeezed through with the last qualifying individual spot in their respective races. Cassidy placed eighth, Acosta finished 15th and Ordonez wound up 20th.

Cassidy is the two-time PAC 8 League individual girls champion. Just over two weeks after successfully defending her league title, she made a big move in the last mile, from 17th place to eighth, at the sectional finals.

"I wanted to finish in the top three, but I'm fine with it," Cassidy said after her run was over.

Live scoring for the state meet will be available at www.cifstate.org

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Sports Reporter