It has been said that cross-country is a sport of the elements.
Consider then the elements a number of area runners had to endure during the CIF finals and the Kinney Western Regional finals in Fresno the past two weekends.
While most local runners and teams traveled to Fresno Nov. 29 for the state finals on Nov. 30, a severe dust and wind storm hit the area between Ventura County and Fresno along Interstate 5 and Highway 99.
Seventeen people died in a 104-car pileup, which was storm related, near Coalinga.
"It looked like fog, but it was much worse," El Capitan's Tricia Young said. "A few times we had to come to a complete stop. It was scary."
Said teammate Kelly Olson: "You could not even see the cars in front of you. We couldn't believe they didn't close down the freeway."
This past Saturday, just before the start of the Kinney races, it began to rain and did not let up until late that night.
"It wasn't real hard rain, but it was constant," Olson said. "The worst part was the temperature. It was cold out there. It was about 49 or 50 degrees, and it felt even colder with the rain."
Fresno, No More: The Kinney national finals are this Saturday morning at Morley Field in Balboa Park.
Warrior Honored: Dawn Pederson, who led the Fallbrook Warriors to the section field hockey championship, became the first non-Serra athlete in five years and only the second in 12 seasons to be named section player of the year. Liz Cortez, also of Fallbrook, won the award in 1986.
Big Dreamer: E.J. Watson's performance in La Jolla's 50-49 victory over San Pasqual in the 2-A football semifinals Friday has to rank among the greatest in San Diego County.
Watson, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound running back, rushed for an 11-man county-record 369 yards and six touchdowns, returned a kickoff 92 yards for another touchdown, ran for a two-point conversion, intercepted a pass and returned it 10 yards and recovered a fumble.
On touchdown runs alone, Watson matched his career-high of 250 yards.
He carried the ball 23 times. La Jolla ran only 30 plays, including one pass, which was intercepted. San Pasqual got off 76 plays--66 rushing, 10 passing.
Overshadowed was the fact three backs from San Pasqual rushed for more than 100 yards--Jamon Buggs (151), Mike Walters (121) and Billy Geddes (115)--and Geddes completed six of 10 passes for 97 yards.
Good Picks: Hats off to the football playoff seeding committee. Both the 3-A and 2-A championship games will feature the top two seeded teams, and six of the eight teams in the semifinals were seeded.
No. 1 El Camino (12-1) will meet No. 2 La Jolla (13-0) in the 2-A final at 4 p.m. Saturday in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, followed by No. 1 Vista (13-0) against No. 2 Point Loma (12-1) in the 3-A game at 7 p.m.
A Look Back: La Jolla is one of the oldest schools in the county and one of the original members of the San Diego Section, which was founded in 1960. The Vikings, however, have never won a section title in football.
El Camino has won five championships since the school split from Oceanside in 1976, including the past two.
Point Loma won two 2-A titles before winning the 3-A in 1987 with a 13-0 mark.
Vista, which won the 2-A in 1974, is going for a record-tying third 3-A banner.
Continuity Counts: Bennie Edens is in his 37th year as the head football coach at Point Loma. Herb Meyer has coached every game in El Camino history after starting his career at Oceanside in 1959.
Dick Haines has been at Vista since 1970. And Dick Huddleston took over for the late Gene Edwards two years ago after Edwards spent 28 years as La Jolla's coach.
League Streaks: This marks the sixth consecutive year and ninth of 10 at least one member of the Avocado League has been in the 2-A final. The league has owned the banner the past four years.
Before El Camino won the past two, Rancho Buena Vista won in 1988 and San Marcos and San Pasqual played to a 14-14 tie in 1987.
In the 3-A, this is the fifth straight year a City Eastern League has been to the final and the fourth in a row for the Palomar League.
It Could/Has Happened: There have been three ties in the 2-A championship game, none in the 3-A. All three have involved at least one Avocado team. In addition to San Marcos-San Pasqual, El Camino tied Point Loma, 6-6, in 1982, and Escondido matched San Diego, 21-21, in 1969.
Still Going: El Camino has now scored more points (167) in three playoff games than 25 of the 54 2-A and 3-A schools managed during the regular season.
Odd Statistic: As Vista broke a 14-14 deadlock against Mira Mesa with 1:45 left in the third quarter of their 3-A semifinal on Saturday, Mira Mesa quarterback Chad Davis, the new national record holder for career passing yards, had completed one of four passes for minus one yard. Davis finished two-of-eight for 17 yards.