Realize 45:53 is ridiculously fast. Only nine other females in Beast history have run faster. Five of those ladies won a Foothill League individual championship during their time, six of those 10 earned at least one at-state award in cross country, and all nine ran 5:14 or faster for 1,600 meters, 10:52 or faster for 3,200 meters, and 17:51 or faster on the historic Mt. San Antonio College cross country course.
We're not saying she'll match those times, but a much-deserved break-through could happen soon. Hodge has already run one big personal best on the oval this winter, winning the second girl's 3,200-meter heat in 11:52.48 at the SCV All-Comers on Feb. 13. Looking at the bigger picture, though, Hodge could be the fifth runner Saugus needs to win the program's 11th consecutive CIF state cross country championship. The Centurions bring back the quartet of Kaylee Thompson, Mariah Castillo, Mackenna Park and Jacqueline Cascione from last fall's state championship team, as well as Abby Davis from the 2014 championship team. Saugus will already head into next cross country season as the favorite to win No. 11, but another improvement by Hodge would be a nice addition to Saugus' 2016 state championship line-up in November.
Castillo, now a sophomore at Saugus, is obviously healthy and better than ever. When she entered high school with personal bests of 4:43 for 1,500 meters and 10:02 for 3,000 meters we said if anyone could break the Santa Clarita Valley high school records in the 1,600-meter run (4:42.50 by Shannon Murakami) and 3,200-meter run (10:18.21 by Lauren Fleshman), it's Mariah Castillo.
Last weekend, at the SCV All-Comers at Canyon High School, she made her 2016 debut and won the girl's 1,600-meter event in a 5:05.26. That mark is less than six seconds off her personal best of 4:59.74 run in a time trial last May and just thirty-six one hundredths of a second off her best time run in an actual race (5:04.90 at the Hart vs. Saugus Dual last April). The most impressive thing, though, is that Castillo's 5:05.26 run last weekend is the one of the fastest openers in Foothill League history. In fact, I don't think anyone except Murakami has opened faster.
Castillo made it two successful weekends in a row earlier this morning, when she smashed Karis Frankian's 2009 SCV high school sophomore record up the Beast by 41 seconds, touching the gate in 45:12. That's also tied for No. 5 in Beast history, only trailing Samantha Ortega (39:49 in 2015), Shannon Murakami (40:06 in 2016), Jenay Jauregui (43:43 in 2011), and Brianna Jauregui (44:37 in 2008) and Frankian (45:12 in 2008).
Splits aren't available, but it made us reevaluate his recent Santa Clarita Valley records in the mile (4:00.19) and 3,000-meter run (8:04.72). We used Jack Daniel's Running Calculator to see how fast those marks are and came up with these numbers:
- 4:00.19 is equivalent to 3:43 for 1,500 meters, 8:31 for 3,200 meters, 13:49 for 5K, 28:44 for 10K, 1:03:16 for the half-marathon, and 2:12:34 for the marathon.
- 8:04.72 is equivalent to 3:47 for 1,500 meters, 8:40 for 3,200 meters, 14:04 for 5K, 29:14 for 10K, 1:04:26 for the half-marathon, and 2:15:00 for the marathon.
- The SCV records are 3:42 for 1,500 meters, 8:49 for 3,200 meters, 13:51 for 5K, 28:30 for 10K, 1:04:45 for the half-marathon, and 2:14:41.
O'Neil's 4:00.19 is better than all but two SCV records (the 1,500m and 10K), and he already holds the 1,500-meter record and is No. 3 on the SCV all-time 800-meter list at 1:50 (Chris Low holds the SCV record in 1:47). O'Neil now holds SCV records in the 1,500 meter run, mile, and 3K, and is also No. 3 all-time over 800 meters and No. 10 all-time over 5K (14:18.36). In my eyes, he's the greatest male distance runner. Period.
Last weekend, she erased the oldest SCV record in the distance running world by taking down Lauren Fleshman's 1999 SCV 3,200-meter record by nearly nine seconds (10:09.29), and this morning, she almost sliced Samantha Ortega's all-time women's Beast record in half when she up just 17 seconds short of the historic 39:49 record (Murakami ran 40:06), run last summer. At the time we thought Ortega's record would stand the test of time, but now we're second guessing ourselves after Murakami took nearly two minutes off her personal best, a 41:57 just last month.
Murakami is obviously in the best shape of her life and is in position to run some big personal bests around the oval. We're not sure what her ceiling is when it comes to cross country and track, but we do know it's been fun watching Murakami dominate over the last decade, and we look forward to many, many more stellar performances this spring and in the future.
I came no where near Kent's record, my best time coming in February 2009 at 36:43. That mark is 66 seconds off his SCV high school record, but let me tell you, there's absolutely no way I was 66 seconds slower than him. There's a sane that goes, "times don't lie," and in this case, they don't. For 10 years I've kept my mouth shut, but enough is enough. Ten years is long enough!
Below are the top 20 fastest high schoolers up the Beast and their PR's at the Beast, 3,200m, Mt. SAC, Woodward Park and COC:
- Stephen Kent (Canyon) - 35:37 Beast, 9:52 3,200m, 15:51 @ Mt. SAC, 16:31 @ Woodward Park, 16:06 @ COC
- Ryan Tate (Saugus) - 35:42 Beast, 9:23 3,200m, 14:56 @ Mt. SAC, 15:16 @ Woodward Park, 15:37 @ COC
- Tommy McGuan (Canyon) - 36:42 Beast, 9:36 3,200m, 15:19 @ Mt. SAC, 15:37 @ Woodward Park, 15:22 @ COC
- Brandon Jauregui (Saugus) - 36:43 Beast, 9:28 3,200m, 15:28 @ Mt. SAC, 15:45 @ Woodward Park, 15:15 @ COC
- Brian Zabilski (Saugus) - 37:07 Beast, 8:49 3,200m, 14:49 @ Mt. SAC, 15:07 @ Woodward Park, 15:55 @ COC
- Tucker Welker (West Ranch) - 37:07 Beast, 9:45 3,200m, 15:15 @ Mt. SAC, 15:27 @ Woodward Park
- Alec Nelson (Saugus) - 37:14 Beast, 9:29 3,200m, 15:30 @ Mt. SAC, 15:41 @ Woodward Park, 15:37 @ COC
- Zach Wims (Canyon) - 37:28 Beast, 9:13 3,200m, 15:34 @ Mt. SAC
- Jacob Crosson (Saugus) - 38:09 Beast, 10:08 3,200m, 15:39 @ Mt. SAC, 15:39 @ Woodward Park
- Kurt Lutz (Saugus) - 38:11 Beast, 9:20 3,200m, 15:54 @ Woodward Park
- Jimmy Kelley (Hart) - 38:12 Beast, 9:14 3,200m, 15:56 @ Mt. SAC, 15:20 @ COC
- Adam Driedger (Canyon) - 38:54 Beast, 9:54 3,200m, 16:51 @ Mt. SAC
- Robert Pion (Saugus) - 38:56 Beast, 9:21 3,200m, 15:18 @ Mt. SAC, 15:22 @ Woodward Park, 16:04 @ COC
- Kobe Serrano (Saugus) - 39:07 Beast, 10:01 3,200m, 17:07 @ Mt. SAC, 16:25 @ COC
- Alfredo Coronado (Hart) - 39:12 Beast, 9:52 3,200m, 15:32 @ Mt. SAC, 16:01 @ Woodward Park
- Jordan Serrano (Saugus) - 39:27 Beast, 9:22 3,200m, 15:33 @ Mt. SAC, 15:59 @ Woodward Park, 16:08 @ COC
- Timmy Gonzalez (Canyon) - 39:28 Beast, 9:53 3,200m, 15:35 @ Mt. SAC, 16:18 @ Woodward Park
- Austin Fischer (Saugus) - 39:29 Beast, 9:42 3,200m, 15:45 @ Mt. SAC, 16:01 @ Woodward Park
- Caleb McClain (Canyon) - 39:33 Beast, 9:24 3,200m, 15:29 @ Mt. SAC
- Ryan Painter (West Ranch) - 39:50 Beast, 9:16 3,200m, 15:31 @ Mt. SAC, 16:25 @ Woodward Park, 15:28 @ COC
What's going for him?
- Kent won the 2006 Foothill League cross country championship by seven seconds over me
- Kent's 35:37 record broke the all-time record, previously held by Brian Spangenberg (35:58 in 2002).
- Maybe the conditions were perfect?
- My SCV high school freshman record of 39:52 lasted 10 years
What's going against him?
- He only won by seven seconds, in the last 300 meters in fact, over me at the 2006 Foothill League cross country championships. At the time my Beast PR was 39:52 (as a freshman earlier that year) and only 42:15 that fall. How could a guy just as good as me that fall have beaten my personal best by over four minutes and my season best by over six minutes? I like to think my biggest strength is hills...
- Brian Spangenberg was pretty damn good when he set that record in 2002. Within two years of his 35:58 Beast personal best he also ran 1:08:43 in the half-marathon (No. 6 in SCV history!), 2:27:40 in the marathon (No. 4 in SCV history!) and won the SCV Marathon (2:28:46). It's also known Spangenberg spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to run the Beast, and did it often in the early-2000s.
- Sure, maybe the conditions were perfect, but how many people were present when he ran that 35:37? or his 34:52 personal best in 2010? Was anyone present during any of these Beast performances? If someone like Ryan Tate or Tommy McGuan or Brian Zabilski or myself go out and run the Beast alone (I just ran it on my own a few weeks ago in 38:57) it's believable because one, they have the cross country and track marks to back it up, and, two, they've done it before with a a large group present, and not just once, but many, many times. Also, only Seth Totten (34:47) and Jeff Jackson (34:48) have run faster than Kent's all-time best of 34:52. Realize both Totten and Jackson were light-years better than Kent. Totten ran 13:51 in the 5K during the same year he ran his PR up the Beast and Jackson won the NAIA national championship in the marathon and won the SCV Marathon, running 2:30, one of the fastest 26.2-mile times in valley history.
- Today Kobe Serrano took down my 10-year-old SCV high school freshman record, running an incredible 39:07. I feel honored it lasted that long. I know the last part of this article might get some criticism, and trust me, I expect it to, but we're all entitled to have an opinion, plus I laid down some pretty solid facts so far. But if anyone uses the line, "your record lasted a decade, why can't his?" here's why: First and foremost, there were a lot of people present when I ran that 39:52 up the Beast, including the entire Saugus team, Don Mclean of Don's Diary, and Signal reporters Craig Leener and Bob Dickinson. As a freshman, I didn't even own watch. I didn't know anything about the sport and I couldn't afford one, plus back in the good old days, we'd send people up the mountain 10 minutes before the start. It was more official and you couldn't lie. Second, if you look at the freshman who've tried getting my record over the last 10 years, like Alec Nelson, Brian Zabilski and Kobe Serrano, their personal bests as freshman match mine or are were slower as ninth graders (Me - 10:05 3,200m & 16:48 @ Mt. SAC, Alec - 10:17 3,200m & 17:01 @ Mt. SAC, Brian - 10:00 3,200m, Kobe - 10:01 3,200m & 17:07 @ Mt. SAC).
- Last but not least, there's no way someone who ran personal bests of 15:51 and 9:52 (at the time of his record he had never broken 10 minutes though!) has the fitness to run 35:37 up the Beast. Ever. Within five weeks of my 36:43 personal best up the Beast, I ran a 9:32 at the Azusa Pacific University Distance Meet of Champions, then four days later, ran a 4:34 1,600m/2:02 800m/9:33 3,200m at the Canyon vs. Saugus Dual. I ran all of Kent's personal bests in a triple within three hours of each other, but could only run 36:43 at my best. You could argue he had more endurance/strength than me, but you need a lot of endurance/strength to pull off a triple like that against two very amazing runners (Anthony Pizzo and Tommy McGuan). Plus, there's absolutely no way Kent was a better strength/endurance runner than guys like Brian Zabilski and Ryan Tate.i
(Feel free to leave questions, comments and concerns)