TEMECULA — The path was so narrow for a Vista Murrieta upset in track and field Wednesday, that even Coach Coley Candaele couldn’t find the way.
Luckily for Candaele, his boys team could — and did.
Behind standout performances by senior Parris Samaniego and distance victories by Edgar Villa and junior Willie Coleman, the Broncos boys stunned Great Oak, 74-62, for a Southwestern League victory in the teams’ final dual meet of the season.
On the girls side, Great Oak did get the 86-50 victory.
By virtue of several preseason invitational performances — including a team victory at last weekend’s Mt. SAC Invitational — the Wolfpack figured to be a favorite entering Wednesday’s meet. But Vista Murrieta was able to pick off enough points to secure the win and offer further intrigue in the teams’ longstanding rivalry.
“I am unbelievably proud of our kids,” Candaele said. “The way they competed today — unexpected.
“I went through all the possible scenarios the last couple of weeks, and I could never figure out how we could do it. A lot of things went our way today. … Everything went our way today.”
Samaniego was a huge part of that, running the third leg of the winning 400 relay team, which ran a season-best (41.78 seconds). He also held off Great Oak’s Fabian Bodden to win the 400, won the 200 in 21.54 and rallied the Broncos back for a win in the 1,600 relay (3:22.57).
“We came in knowing that every point counted,” Samaniego said. “So it was just getting my guys in the mindset of, ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re in last place — even going from last to second to last — it’s a mindset thing at that point of you going out there and competing.”
Edgard Villa took that to heart. Charged with trying to earn points against the dominance of Great Oak’s distance runners, Villa did just that, outkicking Carlos Carvajal to win the 1,600 in 4:24.54.
His most important performance might have been the race he didn’t win — the 3,200, which is the meet’s penultimate race. Vista Murrieta needed three points to clinch the team victory, and Villa got them by negotiating lap traffic and the charging Gabe Abbes to place second in the 3,200 in 9:16.43 to Abbes’ 9:16.50. Carvajal won in 9:15.21.
“That last 400 meters, I was so dead, honestly,” Villa said. “I just saw that there was a red jersey in front of me, and I needed to pass it. One of my coaches was screaming at me, ‘If you get second, we’re going to win this.’”
The Broncos also got an important victory from Willie Coleman in the 800 in 1:58.48.
“Great Oak being the fantastic distance program they are, picking off any points with them is ridiculous.”Sophomore Hunter Escorcia also doubled, winning the 110 hurdles (16.26) and 300 hurdles (40.27).
Great Oak did get double victories of its own from senior Jaime Navarro in the shot put (58-6.5) and discus (173-11). Senior CJ Stevenson won the long jump (23-5) and triple jump (45-0) just several days after an injury kept him out of the triple at the Mt. SAC Relays.
Great Oak’s girls, who also won the team award Saturday at the Mt. SAC Relays, won as expected.
Sophomore Tori Gaitan won the 1,600 (4:54.31) and 3,200 (10:29.85) and junior Kristina Bong took the 100 (12.60) and 200 (25.22). Kolonnie Green won three events — the 400 (59.74), the 300 hurdles (46.23) and the high jump (5-2).