The Saddleback women's cross country team advanced to the state meet for the fourth straight season with an eighth place finish at the Southern California Regional Finals on Friday in Santa Clarita. Sophomore Sara Fleming led the charge with a top-20 finish.
Fleming finished 17th overall on Friday when she crossed the finish line of the 5k-trek in 20:01.48. She was just 20 seconds from a top-10 finish and gave the Gauchos the spark they needed to get to the state meet in two weeks.
Fleming was one of five Saddleback runners to finish in the top-100 in a race that featured 186 harriers. The next closest Gaucho was fellow sophomore Sierra Pilarski, who finished 38th in the team competition and 40th overall. Pilarski crossed the tape in 20:44.05.
"This team has come a long ways in a short amount of time," head coach Matt Sherman said. "They went from not having enough runners to making it to the big stage in a matter of six weeks. It's a great accomplishment!"
Mt. San Antonio College edged out Ventura College for first place in the team competition. The top finish from the Orange Empire Conference was Riverside City College, who finished right in front of Saddleback in 7th place.
Saddleback will run again at the CCCAA State Championships in Fresno on November 18.