Camarillo High's powerhouse boys' cross-country team, second in the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational last year, will make another run at the event's team sweepstakes title Saturday at Mt. SAC in Walnut.
However, the Scorpions, who were defeated by Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.), 96-124, in the 1988 meet, will not have an easier task this year.
Camarillo, ranked No. 1 in the state after consecutive fourth-place finishes in the state Division I championships in 1987 and '88, must face the No. 2- through No. 5-ranked teams in Concord De La Salle, Canyon Country Canyon, Arroyo Grande and Agoura.
Also in attendance will be Santa Ana Saddleback and Glendale Hoover, ranked fourth and fifth in the Southern Section 4-A Division; Hart, top ranked in the 3-A; and L. A. Belmont, winner of seven consecutive City Section titles from 1982 to '88.
"There's a lot of teams at Mt. SAC that scare me," Camarillo Coach Mike Smith said. "All the top teams are capable of beating each other."
Smith's assessment is right on.
Agoura, top ranked in the 2-A, upended Canyon, the No. 2 seeded in the 4-A, 64-69, in the Kenny Staub Invitational Oct. 7. That same weekend, the Scorpions defeated Concord De La Salle, 49-95, for their second consecutive Stanford Invitational crown.
Camarillo, led by its senior foursome of Shawn Goetzinger (15:26 at Mt. SAC last year), Abe Valdez (15:31), Derek Kite (15:55) and Chad Malesich (15:59), unlike last year, isn't resting on its laurels just yet.
"After last year, (my runners) think that Stanford beat us, not the state meet," Smith said.
After being ranked No. 1 in the 4-A through much of the 1988 season and having whipped a highly regarded Bend High (Ore.) squad at Stanford, Camarillo dropped a spine-tingler, 86-90, to Dana Hills, the eventual state Division I champion, in the 4-A final.
"Last year after Stanford we continued to train hard and run well," Smith said, "but I think we thought it was going to come a little easier than it was going to."
The boys' invitational sweepstakes race begins at 9:43 a.m. and the girls' team sweepstakes competition starts at 10:47.
In the girls' competition, Buena, second-ranked in the 4-A, and Channel Islands (sixth) will meet Agoura and Arroyo Grande, the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the 2-A, in the team sweepstakes race.
The Bulldogs have won six Channel League titles in a row under Coach Steve Blum. Channel Islands, coached by Debbie Blum, Steve's wife, finished 12th in the 4-A championships last year. Agoura has been runner-up in the state Division I race the past two years.