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Central Coast Classic: A look back at Nipomo's girls cross country team and their first CIF title
Central Coast Classic

Central Coast Classic: A look back at Nipomo's girls cross country team and their first CIF title

The first CIF Central Section title in school history came to Nipomo High in the fall of 2019. 

That year's girls cross country squad earned that distinction with a remarkable performance at the Central Section Finals at Woodward Park in Fresno.  

The team's hard work paid off in the form of the CIF Central Section Division 4 championship.

The Titans out-scored second-place Oakhurst Yosemite 60-78 at Woodward Park in Fresno for the D4 championship in qualifying for the state meet.

That title gave Nipomo High three CIF championships in its history: The football team and the boys swimming squad each won one when Nipomo was a member of the CIF Southern Section.

Sophomore Illiana Murguia was consistently Nipomo's top runner this season, and she led the Titans at the Division 4 meet. Murguia finished sixth in 20 minutes, 2.45 seconds over the 5K course.

"All that hard work — the girls have been talking from day one about (winning the sectional championship) and they did it," Nipomo coach Jeff Long said that day.

"They did a fantastic job today."

The sectional championship was the first girls cross country one in Nipomo school history and the third overall. 

Nipomo's girls got the job done with typically good grouping. Kayden Sanders, the second Titans runner, finished 12th. Sisters Itzel and Ximena Hinojosa finished 16th and 17th, respectively. Kate Barnett, Nipomo's fifth and final scoring runner, finished 21st.

Vanessa Pedroza and Kacie Slover rounded out the Nipomo squad at the Division 4 meet. Pedroza finished 38th. Slover, a state meet qualifier as an individual in 2018, finished in the top half, in 47th. Slover was coming off an injury.

"Kacie, just coming off an injury, ran a great race today," said Long.

All of Nipomo's runners except sophomores Murguia and Slover were freshmen last year.

Though the Titans slipped some at the state meet, they had a banner year overall. Nipomo won the Ocean League championship easily and their victory was voted one of the top sports stories of 2019 by the Times and Record's sports staffs.

On the same day the Nipomo girls won the Division 4 championship, three Santa Maria Valley runners qualified for the state meet as individuals.

Santa Maria junior Yair Torres got in with a fifth-place finish, in 16:08.10 in the Division 2 boys race. Righetti senior Naylea Calderon qualified with a seventh-place finish in 20:12.19 in the Division 3 girls race.

Orcutt Academy junior Izzy Wasserman, a first-year cross country runner, finished eighth in the Division 4 girls race.

Wasserman won at the Ocean League meet.

CIF Southern Section member Midland made the best showing of any locals at the state meet. In their first state meet appearance, the Oaks finished sixth in the Division 5 boys race.

Will Goddard led the Oaks with an eighth-place finish there.


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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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