As it is with any fall season, the Laguna Beach High boys' cross-country team has been busy with workouts, preparing for an upcoming invitational season that it hopes, like many of its predecessors, will end with a late-November trip to Fresno.
That is the annual goal of this program, to make it to the CIF State Cross-Country Championships at Woodward Park. With a youthful lineup of talented runners, the potential is there to make a run toward Fresno.
"We have a very deep and young team that works together for the success of all," Coach Scott Wittkop said. "They are the hardest working team I have ever been associated with, they will be very successful this year."
Last November, Laguna was one of 16 teams to advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 finals at Mt. San Antonio College. At the finals, the Breakers just missed advancing — they were just 10 points shy of reserving a spot at Woodward Park, to the CIF State Championships.
The top seven teams from CIF finals advance to the State meet. Laguna placed eighth, overall, in Division 4.
Back from that team are eight runners including all-league performers, senior Casiano Koprowski and junior Grant Barton. Gone are two important figures from that team, Jack Crawford and Mitch Kimball. At CIF finals last year, Crawford (34th) and Barton (38th) had top-40 finishes in the boys' Division 4 race.
Wittkop said nine sophomores will run varsity this year. Last year's freshman team won every meet it competed in including the Woodbridge, Mt. SAC and Dana Hills invitationals, he said.
The 2013 Breakers started their preseason with a leadership retreat to Big Bear. Last week, 23 Breakers went to Solvang for a week that included two-a-day workouts and raced in the Nite Moves 5K event. Junior Cameron Zuziak was the overall winner of the race in 16 minutes 32 seconds, and Koprowski ran a 16:45 to finish second overall, Wittkop said.
Laguna opens its season Sept. 6 at the 24th annual Seaside Invitational in Ventura. Later that month, the Breakers go to Hawaii for the Sept. 21 Iolani Invitational at Kualoa Ranch.
Head Coach: Scott Wittkop (fourth year)
Coaching staff: Jon Hendrickson; Aman Bhati; Mark Harris.
2012 CIF results: Eighth place at CIF-SS Division 4 finals.
Returning runners: Cameron Zuziak, Jr.; Veda Rebollar, Sr.; Casiano Koprowski, Sr.; Grant Barton, Jr.; Drake Butler, Soph.; Mason Pitz, Soph.; Zach Spitz, Soph.; Penn Nielson, Soph.
Newcomers: Liam Corrigan, Jr.; Ian Ring, Sr.; Carter Fraser, Soph.; James Marshall, Soph.; Sterling Marshall, Soph.; Tim Andrews, Soph.
Returning with honors: Casiano Koprowski (all-league, Sr.); Grant Barton (all-league, Jr.)
Key losses: Jack Crawford; Mitch Kimball.
The schedule: Wittkop described this year's slate as difficult. "We have scheduled some of the toughest invites around to prepare us for CIF finals and State," he said.