There are no more Los Padres League titles to chase for the Cabrillo High cross country teams.
Like every CHS athletics team, the long distance runners are now going to contend with the likes of San Marcos, Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos – along with sharing the same trails with former LPL teams Santa Ynez and Lompoc in the all-new Channel League.
Boys cross country head coach Mike Harnden acknowledged that things will be much different – and competitive – this time on the course.
“We’ve got some challenges ahead of us,” Harnden said. “We’ve got the chance to compete with the big schools out there. We just need to get a couple of the guys to step up, take control and compete.”
Harnden cites two schools from the Santa Barbara region as the major powers in the revamped league.
“The biggest ones we’re gunning for are San Marcos and Dos Pueblos. Those are the big challenges this year,” Harnden said.
Harnden has to replace three All-LPL standouts: Tristan Fichtner, Jakobe Dunlap and Eddie Rangel. He’s relying on Jacob Brown and Osvaldo Espinoza to help carry the load for the CHS boys.
“Those are my two team captains. They know what it’s going to take. They’re leading the team really well and really pushing the guys to do well this year,” Harnden said. “They have really good dedication.”
Girls cross country
Roger Fabing has now stepped in as the head coach of the girls.
Fabing comes over from Righetti High, which is now moving into the Central Section for all sports including cross country. Like the boys, Fabing and the girls team will be going into a more competitive Channel League that features former LPL rivals Lompoc and Santa Ynez and includes perennial C.L. power San Marcos.
“We are excited about this coming season even though Cabrillo is in the Channel League,” Fabing said in an email.
Fabing will have a young group to work with this fall, with Savannah Florez and Dani Santiago as the two seniors.
But, he does have experienced runners from last year back in the black and gold: Junior Makayla Pablo (who was injured half way into the season), Emily Knight and Aylessa Hess – both returning sophomores. Fabing says that the trio is battling for the top three running spots.
“Makayla looks to be our No. 1 this year, and Emily and Hess switch between two and three,” Fabing said.
Along with Santiago, Fabing cites Andrea Sandoval as a key veteran back – as she has ran for three seasons.
Both teams will start the season on Sept. 1 in the Big Ditch Invitational at Arroyo Grande. The event starts at 9 a.m.