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CROSS-COUNTRY / MARMONTE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS : Hernandez Races to Boys' Title

November 05, 1994|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MOORPARK — Don't get Eleazar Hernandez of Camarillo High wrong.

He takes a lot of pride in being one of the top cross-country runners in the state, but he doesn't view his opponents as bitter rivals.

As Camarillo Coach Mike Smith says, "the thrill of the battle is what Eleazar loves more than anything else."

Even more than winning itself.

That was evident after Hernandez won the boys' race of the Marmonte League finals at Moorpark College on Friday.

While well-wishers congratulated Hernandez on bouncing back from last week's loss to Keith O'Doherty of Thousand Oaks in the Ventura County championships, he was surprised by all the hoopla.

And when reporters asked him if it was important to have beaten O'Doherty for the fourth time in five races this season, he said simply, "Not really. I just wanted to run hard."

Running hard meant coming through the first mile in 5 minutes 2 seconds with O'Doherty and Jeff Fischer of Thousand Oaks, John Greene of Agoura and Francisco Sandoval of Channel Islands.

Sandoval fell off the pace soon after and Hernandez picked up the pace after he led O'Doherty, Greene and Fischer through two miles in 10:11.

"I wanted to try and get away from them right after two miles," Hernandez said. "I didn't want it to come down to a kick like last week."

It didn't as Hernandez had a 10-meter lead on Greene--who had another 10 meters on O'Doherty--with a half-mile left.

Hernandez gradually increased his advantage as he became the first Camarillo runner to win a Marmonte League boys' title since Abe Valdez in 1989.

His time of 14:55 was a course record for three miles, lowering the previous best of 15:00 set by Thousand Oaks' Brandon Del Campo last year.

Greene, who missed the county meet because of a sore knee, ran his best race of the season to place second in 15:00. O'Doherty (15:03), Fischer (15:19) and Sandoval (15:33) followed.

Thousand Oaks, the No. 5-ranked team in The Harrier magazine's national poll, placed five runners among the top nine finishers to total 30 points and win its third consecutive team title.

Camarillo, ranked third in the state Division I poll, placed second with 45, followed by Agoura (72), Channel Islands (99) and Newbury Park (119).

In the girls' race, Agoura's Amy Skieresz won her third consecutive individual title and Thousand Oaks won its first team championship since 1987.

Skieresz, the defending State Division I champion, shared the lead with Kim Mortensen of Thousand Oaks for the first mile (5:59) before opening up a nine-second advantage at two miles (12:01).

She finished in 17:41, followed by Mortensen at 17:56.

Thousand Oaks, paced by Mortensen, placed six runners among the top 10 finishers to total 27 points.

Agoura, the four-time defending league champion, finished second with 62 points, followed by Simi Valley (72), Camarillo (96) and Westlake (119).

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