Palos Verdes High School cross-country Coach Joe Kelly doesn't mind seeing girls on the beach. But he's happy he didn't see the girls from his top-ranked team stretched out along the Strand this summer.
"That's one reason they've won everything they've been in," Kelly said. "It's taken lots of hard, dedicated work. These gals aren't out sitting around in beach chairs."
Kelly's girls have been entrenched at the top of the 4A division all year. They'll put that title to the test along with Palos Verdes' top-ranked boys team in the Southern Section finals on Saturday at Mt. Sac.
The boys team, which placed second in last year's finals to Thousand Oaks, will be hard-pressed by Corona del Mar, with whom they traded off the No. 1 ranking during the year. Other favorites include Dana Hills and Camarillo.
It should be smoother sailing for the girls. They'll contend with dark horses Thousand Oaks and Santa Ana Valley.
"If we're on our race and run the way we're supposed to, we should win," Kelly said of the girls' squad. "We're not trying to be haughty or cocky, but we are blessed with an awfully good team.
"Who knows, though? We might go out there and step in a mudhole."
Senior David Scudamore and junior Ashley Black are two runners that Kelly hopes will avoid the mudholes. Both have been top-ranked in their divisions all year.
Backing Black on the girls' side will be seniors Tracy Leichter, Leslie Fill and Andrea Black, juniors Dana Sublett and Tracy Goodrich and sophomore Heidi DiLibiro.
"All the girls are fairly close to equal," Kelly said. "It all depends on who has the best day. Sometimes, some are more equal than others."
Scudamore heads a close-knit boys' unit, which also features seniors Damian Capozzola, Benny Cravatt, Masa Hasegawa and Chris Manfredi and lone junior Blake Bogges.