Replacing Cami Chapus and Amy Weissenbach from a lineup that finished third in Div. IV at both the Southern Section and state finals last season was a tall order for the Harvard-Westlake girls' cross country team, but a challenge coach Tim Sharpe was more than willing to accept.

Although the Wolverines, lost both regular-season Mission League meets to Notre Dame, they defeated the Knights at the league final Nov. 1 for their fifth straight title and managed to do so again Saturday at the Div. IV section final at Mount San Antonio College to place third with 133 points, trailing JSerra (95) and Mayfield (106) for the second year in a row.

Relying on the experience of Lizzy Thomas, Monica Nimmagada, Yasmin Moreno and Elle Wilson to support first-time finalists Trishta Dordi, Lauren Jones and Audrey Wilson, Harvard-Westlake extended its run of top-three finishes at the section final to four years in a row.

"This goes back to a year from now. The girls committed themselves to summer training that was unprecedented compared to anything we've ever done before," Sharpe said. "They were determined to get back to state and everything that's happened since June finally paid off (Saturday). Trishta really stepped up and I'm proud of Lizzy for being a team player and the way she came through."

Dordi placed ninth in 17 minutes, 31 seconds in her section finals debut on the flat, 2.93-mile rain course, with Thomas taking 12th in 17:41 for the Wolverines, who had all seven runners finish under 19 minutes.

Both Harvard-Westlake teams advanced to the state final Saturday, with David Manahan's 13th-place effort (15:04) leading the Wolverines to a seventh-place finish with 213 points, holding off Laguna Beach for the final berth.

In the past eight opportunities for the boys and girls to qualify for state, the Wolverines have succeeded seven times.

"Two or three years from now, I'm expecting big things from these guys," Sharpe said. "It's a young group and this is a good foundation for them to build on."

Moorpark's Gyalay makes history

It was a big day for the Marmonte League at the section final, with Westlake winning its first Div. II boys' title and Simi Valley's Sarah Baxter capturing her third consecutive individual championship - including second in Div. I - to help the Pioneers place second.

That group will be joined Saturday in Fresno by Moorpark sophomore Monika Gyalay, who became the first Musketeers runner to advance to the state final after placing 10th in the Div. II championship in 16:43, joining Golden Valley freshman Bianca Tinoco, another first-time qualifier who finished eighth in 16:42.

"It feels really good," Gyalay said. "I had mixed feelings (about the rain course) because I feel like I'm good on the hills, but I saw what I could do (on the flat course)."

Several locals double up

Along with Harvard-Westlake, five other area Southern Section programs had both boys' and girls' teams qualify.

Saugus had the strongest showing Saturday with its girls winning the Div. II title and the boys finishing second.

Oak Park's girls were sixth in Div. III, with the boys placing seventh.

Flintridge Prep and Desert Christian had both teams advance in Div. V. The Rebels were second in the boys and fifth in the girls, with Desert Christian taking third in the girls and seventh in the boys.