For the second straight year, Vista del Lago’s varsity girls’ cross country team will participate in the state meet. This year, however, the girls enter the state meet as Division III section champions, improving on last year’s second-place finish. The Eagles won the title on Saturday easily, scoring 29 points to runner-up Placer’s 64. Madeleine Ankhelyi led all runners, winning an individual section title – after taking third last year — with a time of 18 minutes, 59 seconds. Ankhelyi, only a sophomore, achieved both her goals of winning, as well as breaking the 19-minute barrier.. “I was confident that I could win and my time was a personal-best for the Willow Hills course,” Ankhelyi said. “I try to run this course conservatively on the first loop and conserve energy for the second loop. In this race, though, I purposely went out a little faster because I wanted to see if I could run a faster time. I felt really good at the end of the race.” Ankhelyi won the race comfortably, finishing 35 seconds in front of runner-up Samantha Smith from Sonora. Her teammates also ran well, which led to the team title. The team win was much more important to Ankhelyi than her individual achievement. “The team aspect was awesome and was my motivation because I really wanted us to win,” Ankhelyi said. “Us winning was the highlight of my day.” Jennifer Morgan, another sophomore, was Vista’s second runner to cross the line, finishing in third place in 19:53. The Mendez sisters followed; freshman Alegra in fourth in 20:09 and senior Marissa in eighth in 20:27. Senior Jennifer Arbaugh rounded out the scoring, placing 13th in 20:56. Elizabeth Anderson (20th, 21:18) and Dali Alarian (22nd, 21:31) rounded out the Vista runners. “The girls were marginal favorites to win, but they still had to go out and do it and they did and I’m very proud of them,” Vista coach Mike Livingston said. “They basically did it with two seniors and a bunch of young runners. Madeleine had another personal record and Jennifer ran a fine race. Alegra was our third runner and Marissa, who was sick, did it on all natural ability. All the runners came through and won the first section title for the program, which is very exciting.” Livingston said the varsity boys had a tough day, but there were other highlights. At the junior varsity girls’ level, Chelsea Gorman won a section title in 23:03, while Megan Howell ran fourth in the freshman-sophomore race in 14:43. The freshman-sophomore boys’ also placed fourth as a team. The varsity girls will compete at the state championships on Nov. 27 at Woodward Park in Fresno.