AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals It’s likely Murakami won’t try to build a lead, or even stay in the lead pack, early in today’s race, a strategy she used early in the season. Instead, she’ll probably save her energy for the end and try to pick off runners in the race’s closing stretch, Saugus coach Christian Standley said. Murakami didn’t take the lead at the state meet until the final mile, then blew by the leaders for a seven-second victory (17:43). She ran a fast, 5:20 opening mile at the early-season Woodbridge of Irvine Invitational and faded to fourth, 21 seconds behind Serrano of Phelan’s Kauren Tarver, the fourth seed in today’s race after winning last week’s California Div. II title in 17:36. Today’s race will be five kilometers (3.1 miles), the same distance as the state meet. The Mt. SAC course was 2.91 miles at the Mt. SAC Invitational in October. The extra approximately quarter-mile is nearly imperceptible to the runners, Standley said. His team’s sixth-place finish at the state meet was recognized in the community. Saugus principal Bill Bolde took the team to lunch earlier this week, and Murakami said she has received several congratulatory calls. “It’s been a hectic week,” she said. “It started to sink in in the car (after the race), but I’m still amazed (I won).” A change in strategy helped Saugus cross country runner Shannon Murakami win her first state title last week. She’ll use a similar approach in today’s Foot Locker West Regional at Mt. San Antonio College, her first step toward competing at the national level. The top eight finishers advance to next week’s Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego. Murakami is seeded fifth – seventh overall in the West – according to dyestat.com. Several of the region’s top runners, including Corona del Mar of Newport Beach’s Annie St. Geme, the California Div. III champion, will be in Portland, Ore., today competing at the Nike Team Nationals. The top two Western runners in that race also advance to the Foot Locker national meet. Murakami is ranked behind some of the country’s best runners,including Marie Lawrence of Reno, Nev., and Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo’s Jordan Hasay. Lawrence, the defending West Regional champion, has finished second in the past two Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. Hasay, a freshman, posted the state meet’s best time (17 minutes, 11 seconds over 3.1 miles) in winning the Div. V title. The state title was the most prestigious of her career. She can add to her resume by qualifying for her first national championship. Murakami finished 22nd at last year’s Foot Locker West Regional while suffering from a cold; she won the event’s freshman race two years ago. “There’s a first time for everything,” she said. Also: Former Canyon runner Adam McDonald, last year’s Foothill League champ, will run today at Nike Team Nationals with Mountain View of Orem, Utah. He is expected to challenge for one of the two available Foot Locker berths. Sean Martin, (818) 713-3607 firstname.lastname@example.org 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!