FRESNO -- In its pursuit to continue a legacy, the Saugus girls' cross country team needed a piece of history Saturday at the Div. II state cross country final.


Centurions assistant Kathryn Nelson gave every Saugus runner a safety pin worn by a member of the 2006 Div. I state championship team, which they wore under their heart to fasten the race bib to their uniform.


The Centurions responded with a heart-stopping final mile, in which Saugus rallied for its sixth straight title, the longest run by any program -- male or female -- in California prep history.


"We had to battle the competition and we had to battle the legacy of Saugus and they came through (Saturday) in a big way," Centurions coach Rene Paragas said. "I told them to stay with Simi Valley's Nos. 4 and 5 and then run the heck out of that last 1.1 miles.


"It's very exciting because this is the closest one we've ever had, this is the stiffest competition we've ever had and this is the least experience (in our lineup) we've ever had. But it's a team that believed in themselves and the coaches and they did it together. We rose to the occasion because (the Simi Valley girls) were so fantastic, not only as athletes, but as human beings."


Simi Valley, led by champion Sarah Baxter, held a 10-point lead over Saugus entering the final mile.


Although Baxter covered the 5-kilometer Woodward Park course in 17 minutes, 8 seconds, the Centurions mounted an impressive comeback in the last 800 meters and Simi Valley's bid to secure a runner-up finish was hurt when senior Erika Barr was disqualified for making contact with Saugus' Jenay Jauregui just before crossing the finish line.


With Barr not factoring into the Pioneers' five scoring runners, Simi Valley endured a 34-point swing and placed fourth with 113 points. La Costa Canyon (88) and Redondo Union (101) benefited from the official's decision, moving up to secure the final two spots on the state podium.


"It's a judgement call, so unfortunately you can't appeal it," Simi Valley coach Roger Evans said. "But we wouldn't have won regardless. Saugus was too good. They deserve a lot of credit."


Baxter became the area's fifth female runner to win two state titles, joining Harvard-Westlake's Cami Chapus, Hoover's Anita Siraki and Agoura's Amy Skieresz and Deena Kastor. She was also the third female athlete in state history to win both Divs. I and II titles.


Baxter produced the second-fastest sophomore mark in meet history -- trailing Santa Rosa's Julia Stamps' 17:07 -- in addition to the No. 2 time in Div. II, behind only Woodbridge's Christine Babcock (17:04).


With its sixth crown, Saugus trails only San Francisco University's nine championships and Corona del Mar's seven titles among the state's most decorated girls' programs.


But before the Centurions took the awards stage, emcee Tim O'Rourke called their achievement, "incomparable to any other team in state history."


Karis Frankian, who joined Saugus' Amber Murakami and Kaylin Mahoney as the only female runners to win four state team championships, rallied from seventh at the 2-mile mark to place third in 17:42.


"The last mile was unbelievable," Frankian said. "We all just went out and did the best we could and this team really stuck together. It's an incredible feeling."


With Simi Valley senior Karla Vernola (18:14) finishing 15th, Jauregui -- an all-state performer last year -- led a relentless pack by finishing 20th in 18:26.


"We all fought as a team and that's why this means so much because we just wanted it more," Jauregui said. "We just had to give it our all and every one of our girls pushed themselves for one another, for the team, for our coaches and for their families."


Abigail Frankian and Jordan McCall were 21st and 22nd, both in 18:32, Katie Huntington (18:40) took 26th and Heidi Hoslet (18:44) was 27th for the Centurions, who received a non-scoring effort from Emily McCarty (19:40).


Simi Valley's Sarah Riggs (18:45) was 28th, Rachel Vinas (18:58) placed 39th and Desirae Jones (19:20) was 61st as the Pioneers' fifth scoring runner.


Thousand Oaks placed seventh with 216 points, led by a 30th-place finish from Caitlin Turner (18:49).  Melanie Joerger (19:14) and Ashton Padberg (19:15) were 55th and 56th for the Lancers, with Genevieve Johnson (19:21) taking 62nd and Kalin Padberg (19:27) placing 68th.