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Glendale to Be Up Front; Wilson Told to Sit Back


MOORPARK — Undefeated Jeff Wilson of Moorpark College and top-ranked Glendale will take decidedly different approaches in the men's race at today's Johnie O cross-country invitational.

Wilson, a former standout at Newbury Park High, has won all five of his races this season by comfortable margins, but Raider Coach Manny Trevino says today's meet is more of a learning experience for his charge.

"I told him not to worry about winning the race," Trevino said. "I told him that if he has the feeling that the first mile is going to run (in the 4 minute 25 seconds to 4:30 range), that he should let the leaders go and not worry about it."

If the first mile is a more-serene 4:35 to 4:40, however, Wilson should be in the lead pack along with Riverside's Wilhelm Gidabuday, Aberrazak Merchoud, Cosmos Nguhn and Cruz Gallegos, San Diego Mesa's Nazario Romero, El Camino's Morris Giddens and Glendale's Jacques Sallberg.

Gidabuday, the runner-up in last year's State cross-country championships, Merchoud (sixth), Nguhn and Gallegos finished 1-2-3-4 in the Irvine Invitational three weeks ago, but at least one local coach figures Wilson has a chance to break up that foursome.

"I don't know if any of us have seen Gidabuday really race this season," Antelope Valley's Mark Covert said. "But I wouldn't be surprised to see Wilson in the top two or three, considering that he's running on his home course."

Glendale has been the top-ranked team in the state since edging Riverside, 45-52, in the Irvine meet and Vaquero Coach Eddie Lopez wants his team's momentum to continue to build as it approaches next month's State championships.

Led by Sallberg, Glendale will try to place five runners among the top 25.

If the Vaqueros accomplish that, they'll have a good chance to win because Riverside's fifth--and final--scoring runner has often been two minutes behind the Tigers' fourth man this season.

A comparable time gap today could leave Riverside's fifth runner in 70th or 80th place.

The women's race should be a battle among San Diego Mesa, El Camino, defending State champion Irvine Valley and Orange Coast, last year's runner-up.

Ventura, led by freshman Josephina Sanchez, could contend for a top-five finish. The Pirates placed second in the Santa Barbara Invitational two weeks ago, seven points behind Orange Coast.

In addition to Sanchez, Heidi Tisovic of College of the Canyons and Tanya Janet of Glendale are expected to be among the top performers from the region.

Today's meet, named after late Yuba City Coach John O'Rognen, serves as the de facto Southern California championships.

The top eight teams in each race will automatically qualify for the State championships. The ninth- through 14th-place finishers have an excellent chance at advancing, depending on what happens when the six Southern California conferences hold their finals.

The meet starts with the women's race at 10 a.m., followed by the men's at 10:45.

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