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Thousand Oaks Doubles Up : Cross-country: Lancers win boys' and girls' Southern Section Division I championships.


WALNUT — It's too bad high school cross-country races weren't always contested over a three-mile distance.

If they had been, it would be much easier to compare the 1972 Lompoc High boys' team--regarded by some as the best in state history--to this year's Thousand Oaks squad.

Lompoc won the 1972 Southern Section 4-A Division title--held on a two-mile course--by an astounding 26-118 score over runner-up Palos Verdes. But Thousand Oaks' 29-111 victory over Peninsula in the Division I race of Saturday's section finals at Mt. San Antonio College nearly equaled that winning margin.

Camarillo, paced by individual winner Eleazar Hernandez, was third with 117 points, followed by Hart at 122.

Thousand Oaks, led by runner-up Kim Mortensen, was also victorious in the Division I girls' race. Thousand Oaks became the first program to win boys' and girls' major-division section titles in the same year.

In the boys' race, Keith O'Doherty was Thousand Oaks' highest finisher with a third-place time of 15 minutes 16 seconds, but he was followed by senior teammates Jeff Fischer (fourth in 15:18) and Kevin Marsden (fifth in 15:19).

Add juniors Todd Disney (13th in 15:34) and Josh Carolan (16th in 15:42) to the equation and the Lancers posted a cumulative time of 77:09, which slashed 47 seconds off the course record the team set in last year's meet.

"I thought if we got really, really good weather, we had a chance at the team-time record," Coach Jack Farrell said. "But I thought it would be by a few seconds. I had no idea it would be by this much."

Taking advantage of cool, clear weather conditions, Thousand Oaks won its third consecutive Division I title to become the first boys' team since Compton in 1950-52 to win three major division championships in a row.

All of which brought up the obvious question: Is Thousand Oaks the best boys' team in state history?

"It's hard to say how we'd compare against Lompoc because they ran two miles back then," Farrell said. "But I definitely think we're the best team since they started running three miles in 1977."

In the girls' race, Mortensen timed 18:00 to finish second behind Courtney Pugmire (17:45) of Esperanza, and teammates Bridget Roy (18:47) and Tara Marsden (18:49) added ninth-and 10th-place efforts to pace the Lancers to a 54-79 victory over Peninsula.

Irvine, the defending State Division I champion, finished third with 99 points, followed by El Toro at 109.

The top four teams in each race and the top five individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the state championships in Fresno next Saturday.

Nordhoff made a clean sweep of the Division III titles.

In the boys' race, senior Javier Ramirez timed 15:10 to win his second consecutive championship and the Rangers defeated second-place El Modena, 58-93. Nordhoff's team time of 79:46 was the third fastest of the meet.

Freshman Elaine Canchola continued her meteoric rise in the girls' race by setting a freshman course record of 17:35 and leading the Rangers to a 69-85 victory over El Modena.

Canchola, who burst onto the scene in finishing third behind Amy Skieresz of Agoura and Mortensen in the Ventura County championships last month, had the fastest girls' time of the meet and cut two seconds off the previous freshman course record set by Agoura's Deena Drossin in 1987.

"We thought about coming up with a race plan for her this week," Nordhoff Coach Ken Reeves said.

"But we figured the only thing we could teach her is to run slower."

Hernandez and Adalberto Sanchez of Capistrano Valley staged the best individual dual of the meet in the Division I boys' race.

Sanchez, who paced last week's preliminaries with a 15:08 clocking, appeared to have the race won after opening up a 20-meter lead on Hernandez with three-quarters of a mile left.

But Hernandez caught him at the top of the last hill on the course and gradually pulled away in the final 400 meters to win by a second in 14:54.

"I thought he had me," Hernandez said.

"But he died up that last hill. I think he went out too fast and used up too much energy in the first part of the race. When it came time to kick, he didn't have anything left."

Overall, local runners won five team and six individual titles.

Antonio Arce of Palmdale ran 15:10 to hold off defending champion John Greene (15:13) of Agoura in the Division II boys' race as the Falcons defeated Mater Dei, 74-77, for their first section title.

Skieresz ran 17:50 to win the Division II girls' race and Shaluinn Fullove of Louisville won the Division IV title in 19:15.

Although Skieresz won her third consecutive section title, she was disappointed with her time, which was 26 seconds slower than her personal best at Mt. SAC.

"I don't know what it was, but I just didn't run very well," she said. "I didn't have any specific time in mind, but I wanted to run a lot faster than I did."

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