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First-year runner Izzy Wasserman and veteran Cresencio Chavez each ran to an individual championship and Nipomo swept the varsity team titles at the Ocean League Cross Country Finals Wednesday.

Wasserman, an Orcutt Academy junior, went into the lead in the last mile of the three-mile course at the Elks Unocal Events center and won the girls varsity race in 19 minutes flat. Runner-up Iliana Murguia of Nipomo finished in 19:19.

Chavez, a Pioneer Valley senior, was in third place in a five-runner lead pack most of the way. He broke into the lead in the last mile and won the boys varsity race in 16:28.43. Patrick Thomas of Mission Prep finished second in 16:33.27.

Nipomo’s girls scored 26 points to runner-up Santa Maria’s 64. Nipomo’s boys out-scored second place Mission Prep 24-34.

Wasserman and Chavez said hanging close to the lead, instead of actually being IN the lead, most of the way benefited them.

“(Murguia) had beaten me before,” said Wasserman. “My coaches told me to stay as close to her as long as I could.” Wasserman did, and then she made her move.

Being in the third spot for the first two miles “was the way I wanted to pace it,” said Chavez.

“This is my first league championship. I was first-team all-league last year. I was actually a little out of shape when this season started because I’d been working in the fields. If it wasn’t for my fellow cross country seniors on the team, I wouldn’t be where I am.”

Wasserman has made her decision to take up running pay off. She finished third at the Santa Barbara County Championships last week.

“I play basketball, the dad of one of the freshmen on the team, Devon Kendrick, is a basketball coach and he said I should run on the (cross country) team because I was a fast runner,” said Wasserman.

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Runners take off at the start of the Ocean League girls varsity race on Wednesday.

“I had friends on the team before I started, and that made it easier.” Devon Kendrick finished eighth in the girls race.

Nipomo’s girls scored a commanding win. All of the Titans’ scoring five runners finished in the top 10.

Freshman Kayden Sanders, Nipomo’s second runner, finished third in the race. Itzel and Ximena Hinojosa finished fifth and sixth respectively and Kate Barnett wound up 10th.

“We were expecting to win the league championship,” said Sanders.

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“We’re not done yet. We have a chance to make the state meet.”

The Central Section qualifier for the state meet will take place at the Central Section Finals at Woodward Park in Fresno Nov. 21. Since there are more spots available at the Central Section meet than there are teams, every squad Wednesday was guaranteed a spot at the sectional meet.

The second half of the race has not typically been a strong point for the Nipomo boys, but a big second half put the Titans over the top Wednesday.

Nipomo’s third, fourth and fifth runners, Alexander Mahan, Owen Slater and Christopher Downing, all moved up in the second half.

Mahan, Slater and Downing went 8-9-10 at the finish, out-scoring their Mission Prep counterparts by a margin more than big enough that the Royals couldn’t catch the Titans in the standings, despite having three runners in the first seven to Nipomo’s two.

“Oh, yeah. They’re good,” Austin Boersma said of the Titans’ third, fourth and fifth runners after leading Nipomo with a third-place individual finish.

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Boys varsity runners start the race.

“They work hard. They deserved (the big finish). One of our team goals was to win the league title and another is to win the CIF championship.”

Jake Edwards, Nipomo’s second runner home, finished fourth. Curran Vaccaro of Mission Prep rounded out the top five in the boys race.

Templeton’s Ashley Hurdle cracked the top five in the girls race with a fourth-place finish. Rocio Zamora led the Santa Maria girls to their runner-up team finish. She placed seventh.

The individual girls and boys winners were league MVPs. Runners who placed second through ninth made the All-Ocean League First Team and runners who finished 10th through 17th made the All-League second team.

Nipomo was happy Kacie Slover was simply able to run Wednesday. Slover qualified for the state meet as a freshman last year. In one of her first races back from an injury this year, Slover finished 25th.

The Santa Maria junior varsity girls, who finished first through sixth individually, scored a perfect 15 points to win the league title.

The Saints’ Itandehui Olea won the junior varsity girls race in 21:06.

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