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Friendly Rivals Root for Each Other at Girls' 4-A Cross-Country Meet


Married couples often find themselves at odds, but the "rivalry" waged between the girls' cross-country teams from Buena and Channel Islands highs has knotted more ties than it has loosened.

There is no animosity breeding between the two Southern Section 4-A Division teams. Instead, Bulldogs' Coach Steve Blum and wife Debbie Blum, the coach at Channel Islands, have created a bond between the programs, which engage in a friendly rivalry from year to year.

"We've done a lot of things together with our teams on purpose," Debbie said. "I try to encourage his kids in the middle of races and he does the same thing for my kids.

"We help out each other a lot with information, strategies and ideas. We don't hide anything. We don't have the football mentality, we're runners.

Both Buena and Channel Islands boasted championship teams this year.

Under Steve, in his seventh year as coach, the Bulldogs claimed their seventh consecutive Channel League title and placed second in the 4-A championship Saturday behind five-time winner Palos Verdes.

Channel Islands won its second Marmonte League crown in a row and finished fourth in the 4-A final under Debbie, a fifth-year coach at the Oxnard campus.

"It's really been neat . . . having somebody to bounce (ideas) off of," Steve said of having two championship programs in one household. "Most people don't have that luxury."

Or the luxury of having four runners with personal-best times under 15 minutes, 45 seconds on the three-mile course at Mt. San Antonio College, the venue of the Southern Section championships.

Camarillo's senior foursome of Abe Valdez (15:13), Shawn Goetzinger (15:26 last year), Derek Kite (15:33 at the Mt. SAC Invitational in October) and Chad Malesich (15:43) paced the boys' team to its first 4-A title after placing third in 1986 and '87 and second last year.

Goetzinger, normally Camarillo's No. 3 runner, was ailing and finished 19th in the 4-A and fifth for the Scorpions.

"I couldn't be happier," Coach Mike Smith said of his team's victory. "Shawn had bronchitis and flu all this week and missed two days of practice. To come and gut it out for the team is really special to me."

Valdez led Camarillo's charge with a second-place finish, one second behind Dave Hartman (15:12) of Canyon.

Camarillo and Buena, ranked first and fifth, respectively, in the state Division I, will make a run at the boys' and girls' team titles at the state championships in Fresno's Woodward Park on Saturday.

Westlake's Jeannie Rothman, who recorded a personal-best 18:01 to finish second in the 4-A final, will run in the Division I race.

Nordhoff's girls' team, which had been running in the shadow of Frontier League rival Agoura, finished fourth (130 points) in the 2-A championships behind three-time winner Agoura (47), Arroyo Grande (83) and Irvine Woodbridge (98). Junior Dascha Spellman (19:09) led the Rangers with a sixth-place finish.

Fillmore freshman standout Maribella Aparicio made a triumphant entrance to high school cross-country.

Not only did she win the Tri-Valley League title ahead of favored sophomore teammate Nikki Shaw, Aparicio clocked 19:03 at Mt. SAC to claim the 1-A title.

Sophomore Jamie Kendig, fifth in the 1-A at 20:04, paced La Reina (140) to a seventh-place finish in the team standings. Thacher (151) placed eighth and Fillmore (233) was 11th.

Nordhoff and Aparicio qualified for the state Division II championships and Thacher advanced to the Division III meet.

Oak Park's John Castner (16:20) finished sixth in the boys' 1-A final and will compete in the state Division III race this weekend.

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