Wednesday marked the best overall showing in recent years for Santa Maria Valley teams at the Santa Barbara County Cross Country Championships.

Righetti’s varsity girls ran to a team championship and Santa Maria’s varsity boys repeated as County champions at River Park, just east of the Lompoc city limits.

“We’ve been working together all season to get this, and it still hasn’t sunk in that we’re County champions,” said Righetti senior Emma Palacios, a four-year varsity runner for the Warriors.

Righetti easily out-scored second-place Cate, 51-79, to win the girls championship. Santa Maria out-scored runner-up San Marcos 43-52 to take the boys title.

Runners-up Naylea Calderon of Righetti and Yair Torres of Santa Maria helped lead their respective teams to County titles.

Calderon finished the three-mile dirt course in 19 minutes, 14.24 seconds, behind winner Anna DiSorbo of Cate’s winning 18:57.88.

Santa Barbara senior Jake Ballantine broke out of a lead pack of five runners to win the boys varsity race in 15:33.71. Torres finished in 15:36.12.

DiSorbo and Ballantine are first-time County champions.

“I’m very excited to be a County champion,” said DiSorbo, a sophomore, after she took control early in the race and ran to a convincing win.

Ballantine said he was hoping to run 15:30. He didn’t quite get that, but he gladly settled for a County title.

“I was sitting fourth, then I moved up to second with about 1,000 yards left,” said Ballantine. “I started my kick in the last 150,” and the strategy worked.

Calderon is a first-year cross country runner.

“I’d been playing soccer, I was a fast runner and I figured ‘why not?’,” when it came to competitive running, said Calderon.

She said she joined the Righetti track team last spring. Then she got her introduction to cross country.

“I love it,” she said. “I love the atmosphere, I love the team. Everyone is so supportive.”

Torres said he was fine with second place individually. Though this was the County Championships, “We’ve got a bigger meet Saturday,” he said.

That would be the John Seeman Invitational in Fresno. “A lot of fast teams will be there,” said Santa Maria boys coach Brian Wallace.

“Really, this was just a workout for us to prepare for that meet. This was the last long workout for us this season. The rest are going to be shorter and faster,” before the Saints compete at the Mountain League Finals next week.

Behind DiSorba and Calderon, Sonia Wasserman of Orcutt Academy (third place), Mallory Barnum of Lompoc and Meena Baker of Cate rounded out the girls individual top five.

Will Snyder and Jacob Snodgrass of San Marcos finished third and fourth respectively in the boys varsity race. Will and Ziggy Goddard led Midland to a third place team finish. Will Goddard finished fifth. Ziggy Goddard finished sixth.

Depth helped the Righetti girls and Santa Maria boys to team titles. All five scoring runners on both teams were among the 20 medalists in both races.

Marait Moreno Gutierrez was Righetti’s second runner. She finished ninth. Lindsey Lucas (11th), Palacios (15th) and Peyton Carrera (19th) rounded out the Righetti scoring.

Three Santa Maria boys finished in the top 10. Behind Torres, Luis Diaz came in seventh. Jedric Callado finished eighth. Chris Cervantes came in 12th. Efrain Gutierrez finished 14th.

Santa Maria won two of the three lower division team titles. The Saints’ frosh soph boys won with a perfect 15 points. The Saints’ Yarid Zaragoza won the race in 17:13.10.

Santa Maria won the junior varsity girls team championship with 20 points. Itandehui Olea led the Saints with a second-place finish.


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.