Ailey Alexander, Ridley DeSoto and Mackenna Show working up the hill together just past 2 miles.
Santa Barbara runners Ailey Alexander, Ridley DeSoto and Mackenna Show push up the hill together just past two miles on the Lake Casitas course. (Courtesy photo)

Solid pack running led Santa Barbara High’s cross country teams to top-five finishes at the Ojai Invitational at the Lake Casitas course.

The Dons boys came in second place and the girls fourth behind champion San Luis Obispo. 

The Tigers won the boys division with 16 points followed by Santa Barbara (56), Fillmore (107), Thacher (148) and Arroyo Grande (150). The girls rankings were San Luis Obispo (31), Canoga Park (68), Orcutt Academy (95), Santa Barbara (116) and Arroyo Grande (144).

“We had a solid team showing today and got some valuable course experience for when we come back here at the first Channel League meet in a couple of weeks,” said Santa Barbara coach Oliva Perdices. ” San Luis Obispo is one of the top teams in California and they showed that out there today.”

Mackenna Show led a tight group of three for the Santa Barbara girls. She placed 22nd with a 3-mile time of 22:10 and was followed by Ridley DeSoto (24th, 22:10) and Ailey Alexander (25th, 22:11).

“They were working together through the entire race,” said Perdices.

Belen Catalan Jaimes (34th, 22:47) and Maia Show (44th, 23:37) also scored for the Dons. 

“We’ve been trying to get the girls packed tighter and keying off one another better. They did a nice job of that today, ” Perdices.

“The  boys wanted to keep all seven guys packed in through at least two miles today. That whole group does such a good job pushing and pulling each other in training and racing,” said Perdices.

She added that the team accomplished what it wanted “in terms of getting our younger kids more race experience and getting a really good feel for how to best attack this course when we come back to it.

“Ojai is the hot, hilly, dusty course you picture when you think cross country and we really enjoy running here.”

The Dons next compete at the Raider Invitational, hosted by Channel Islands High at College Park in Oxnard on Friday.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.