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Eagles class of the field

CROSS COUNTRY: Orozco wins to lead Estancia boys to title; Eagles’ Chapin girls’ champ.

November 07, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA — Teammates and runners from rival schools alike were happy to meet Fernando Orozco’s post-race smile with a high-five and well-wishes Thursday afternoon at Fairview Park.

Virtually no sooner than he had officially put the field behind him at the Orange Coast League cross country finals, the Estancia High senior was eager to engage in the friendly exchanges, accepting congratulations and offering same with a sincerity as genuine as his running talent.

“It’s fun,” said Orozco, who helped lead the Eagles to the boys’ team title. “I like my teammates, I like competing against other people and I’m fine with the people I compete against. I consider them my friends and, hopefully, they consider me theirs.”

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Orozco, however, put his consideration aside in the final stage of the three-mile race. First, he and teammate Jorge Martin separated from a Laguna Beach runner who rounded out a trio of leaders. Then, Orozco, who was fourth at last year’s league finals, where the Eagles finished second behind Laguna Beach, pulled away from Martin, finishing in 15 minutes, 29 seconds.

“Jorge [second in 15:32] was with me the whole time,” Orozco said. “He pushed me, but I took him right at the end.”

Martin, a junior, helped fortify the Estancia team victory, as the Eagles’ 34 points bested Laguna Beach (41).

Estancia Coach Charlie Appell credited the work of Orozco, Martin and senior Wes Barloon (fifth in 15:54), but also praised the performances of seniors Damian Leon (12th in 16:34) and Willy Rodriguez (14th in 16:43) for rounding out the scoring five.

“They were the helpers,” Appell said of Leon and Rodriguez. “They really made a difference and pushed us over the top. [Winning the team title] was a good surprise.”

A mild surprise was Estancia freshman Mariah Chapin, who won the girls’ individual title for her first solo victory of the season.

Chapin, whose time of 19:11 was five seconds faster than runner-up Kativa Strickland, a junior from Laguna Beach, helped the Eagles finish second to the Breakers in the team competition.

Chapin, who finished side-by-side with freshman teammate Erika Garcia at a league cluster meet last week at the same site, had been Estancia’s seventh runner the week previous to that at the Mt. San Antonio Invitational. Further, Chapin said she began the year barely able to crack the top 10.

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