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Eagles young, but talented

By: Matt Long
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Despite having a senior class for the first time, Vista del Lago’s cross country team is still a collection of young runners. But after an offseason in which many of the athletes did their homework and ran a lot of miles, the Eagles have a good chance to soar to new heights this season. The girls’ top runner from a year ago, Marissa Mendez, returns for her junior season. Last year she placed fifth in the section and was 35th in the state in Division IV, and Saturday at the team’s time trial she was the fourth-fastest girl to finish. “Marissa’s coming off an injury so she’s working her way back and I suspect she’ll be battling for the top spot by the end of the season,” Vista coach Mike Livingston said. Junior Jennifer Arbaugh also returns to the team, but it’s a pair of freshmen that have been the biggest surprise to Livingston. Madelyn Ankhelyi was the first to finish the time trial on Saturday on a course at the Parkway, finishing the two-mile run in 12 minutes, 8 seconds. Arbaugh followed 41 seconds later with freshman Jennifer Morgan one second behind. Mendez finished two seconds behind Morgan. For the boys, senior Ian Kennedy is the top returner, as he won the time trial in 10:51. Junior Riley Martin finished in 11:13 with sophomore Matt Winkler finishing eight seconds behind. “By having a summer program, we’re further along than we were last year,” Livingston said. “We’ve got some really good athletes on the girls’ side and we’re looking pretty good. “It’s so early and we’re so young, but in general our goal is to improve on last year. This will be the first time we have a full varsity boys and girls team so we just want to compete. I think the girls will try to make it to the section meet and I think the top-two boys could make the postseason.” Vista opens its season Thursday at the 3:30 p.m. at Del Oro.