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Cross Country

Santa Barbara’s Jake Ballantine is Fastest Freshman at Ojai Invite

Jake Ballantine of Santa Barbara High posted the fastest freshman time at the Ojai Invitational on Saturday at Lake Casitas.

Ballantine ran the hilly 3-mile course in 17 minutes, 31 seconds and finished 42nd overall.

"Jake races with a lot of intensity and composure. It's rare for a freshman," Santa Barbara coach Olivia Perdices said. "He's so much fun to coach. He just embraces the work every day. He understands the expectations and the process and doesn't back down from anything."

Mark Hernandez ran the 1.9-mile short course for the Dons and finished in 11:03 for 10th.

"It's nice to see Mark back racing and picking up good results," Perdices said. "He's worked hard to come back from some injuries the last few weeks after having a great summer. He'll really help us the rest of the season."

Ally Garza was the top girls finisher for the Dons, running 21.35 on the 3-mile course. She was 16th in the sophomore division and 53rd overall.

"Ally has really taken the reigns as our leader keeps stepping up her racing," said Perdices

The Santa Barbara coach said the Ojai Invitational is the definition of a cross country race.

"Ojai is the kind of thing you picture when you say cross country: wide, hilly dirt paths with trees and bushes by the lake. It's perfect when you get off the bus, then hotter and dustier for each race. It's a course with a lot of history and the racing is always intense. It's a great format for kids to see where they stack up both in their age group and overall in one big race."

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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