If all cross-country runners are a bit masochistic, then David Scudamore of Palos Verdes High is king of pain.
Fortunately for Palos Verdes, Scudamore's threshold for pain is fairly high. That's one of the reasons he won the Southern Section finals two weeks ago.
That is also a reason the Palos Verdes boys cross-country team will be among the favorites Saturday in the State Division I finals at Woodward Park in Fresno.
"Scudamore is able to sublimate any pain he feels during a race," said Palos Verdes Coach Joe Kelly. "He doesn't do it on natural talent alone. He's a self-made runner."
Scudamore will lead Palos Verdes into the first state cross-country championships on Saturday. Junior Ashley Black will head up the Sea Kings' gifted girls team, which is top-ranked in the state.
It could be a pleasant day for Kelly. His girls team is highly favored to win the state title, though they could be pushed by Hesperia, Agoura and Los Gatos. The Palos Verdes boys will have a tougher time, tangling with powerhouses Arroyo (undefeated this year) and Dana Hills and trying to hold back challengers Camarillo and Upland.
"It's a really class field as far as the teams involved," Kelly said. "It's a very competitive division. There's just more quality boys teams this year."
Scudamore will run out in front of a boys squad composed entirely of seniors. Backing him will be Damian Capozzola, Bennie Cravatt, Masa Hasegawa, Chris Manfredi, Brent Kimball and Matt Carroll. Junior Blake Bogges is on crutches with a stress fracture in his leg.
"It's a talented group," Kelly said. "It'll be a shame when they all graduate. But maybe then I'll get some guys with names I can pronounce."
The seven girls on the team will be Black, seniors Tracy Leichter, Leslie Fill and Andrea Black (Ashley's sister), juniors Dana Sublett and Traci Goodrich and sophomore Heidi DiLibero.
Kelly said that Ashley Black is capable of placing in the top five in the state.
"I would think that's realistic," he said. "She could do anything in that range.
"We don't have a weak link in the girls unit. We should have all seven girls in before most teams have five in."
The boys will have to be "on their day" to be in contention, Kelly said. But he also said his runners are all mentally tough and prepared for the championships.
"It takes a certain type of person to be successful in cross-country," Kelly said. "There are several sports in which an athlete can hide, but in cross-country, you're always under the watch.
"The overload principle can be hard to deal with sometimes--overloading the body with stress and then easing up. But it's something that has to be mastered. Because the gauge that we use in this sport is, how fast did you go?"