Tim Farrell of Thousand Oaks High passed the baton to Dave Patterson, completing the third leg of the boys' two-mile relay at the Sunkist Invitational last Friday. Rio Mesa Coach Brian FitzGerald was timing each leg of the relay from the stands and he couldn't believe his eyes.
The stopwatch in his hand read: 1:44, a world indoor record for 880 yards.
Patterson, the anchor, held off runners from Belmont and Walnut with a strong kick to win the race for Thousand Oaks. His kick was remarkable for the same reason Farrell's seemingly record run was unremarkable--the third leg had been cut short by a full lap and the fourth leg had been one lap too long.
"That was really strange," FitzGerald said. "It was a case of confusion."
Each leg of the relay was supposed to be 880 yards, which is 5 1/2 times around the Sports Arena track. Farrell--and his competition on the third leg--ran only 720 yards. Patterson and the other anchor runners traveled 1,040 yards.
"Tim knew it. He was getting ready to push for the last lap and they put the fourth runner on the track," said Thousand Oaks Coach Jack Farrell, Tim's father. "Patterson didn't know at the time but he sensed he was running too long."
With Paul McCarter and Mike Bogoyevac running the first two splits, Thousand Oaks led from start to finish. Patterson ran 6 1/2 laps in 2:30.
Rio Mesa junior Angela Burnham traveled 500 yards in 1:08.2, good enough for first place. Burnham, who won the state 100-meter title as a freshman, finished third in the race last year.
FitzGerald was worried at first because Burnham did not start as quickly as he had hoped.
"Angela let two girls open up about a 10-yard lead after the first lap, but they came back to her," he said. "She changed gears in the final lap and came around the last turn really strong."
Rio Mesa's Travis Cooksey, who usually takes the lead early and tries to hold on through the stretch, came in third in the 880-yard run with a time of 1:59.8 because he was not aggressive enough at the beginning. Two other runners opened up an early lead on him.
"He actually ran a good time for being indoors," FitzGerald said. "Travis told me he thought he had another lap to go when the race was over. That may have hurt him."
Mike Esparza a junior from Newbury Park, won the boys' rated two-mile with a personal best time of 9:25.1. Esparza, who led from start to finish, won by more than five seconds.
Ventura County runners finishing second included Fillmore's Jerardo Vaca in the boys' mile (4:30.9) and Westlake's Desiree Joubert in the 880 (2:22.4). Hueneme's Simone Cain finished second in her heat of the girls' 500 (1:10.0).
Although three runners squeezed in the track meet between basketball games and soccer matches, Oak Park upset Thousand Oaks to finish first in its boys' mile relay heat with a time of 3:32.2. Oak Park had the fourth best overall time and Simi Valley (3:32.9) was fifth.
Jason Stein and Jess Garner took time out from basketball and Rich Frank was excused from soccer to participate for Oak Park, the defending Southern Section 1-A Division 1,600-meter relay champion.