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MacIntosh Hits County Line First

Cross-country: Ventura runner hopes to place but shows she can win. Armstrong is second and Canchola runs third.


OJAI — After being a supporting player in Ventura County cross-country circles the previous two years, Alyson MacIntosh of Ventura High moved to center stage Friday with an upset victory in the county championships at Lake Casitas.

But an hour after becoming the first Ventura runner--male or female--to win a county title, MacIntosh appeared to be in shock about what she'd accomplished.

Speaking slowly and appearing unaccustomed to answering reporters' questions, the Cougar senior admitted she had given no thought to winning.

"I was going for second or third," she said. "I figured that [junior Elaine Canchola of Nordhoff] would win and I just wanted to try to stay close to her."

MacIntosh, who finished sixth and ninth in the previous two county meets, did better than that.

She clocked 18 minutes 23 seconds over the three-mile course to turn back sophomore Amanda Armstrong of Thousand Oaks, who ran 18:37, and Canchola, defending State Division III champion, who finished in 18:42.

Paced by MacIntosh, Ventura totaled 64 points to finish second behind defending county champion Nordhoff, which had 56. Thousand Oaks was third with 100.

"Ventura ran great," Nordhoff Coach Ken Reeves said. "[Coach Bill Tokar] has done an incredible job with that team this year."

Although Canchola and teammate Terrah Chapin led early, Armstrong and MacIntosh had a 10-meter lead over Camarillo's Nicholle Reinhardt and Canchola after coming through the mile in 5:55.

After running two miles in 12:12, MacIntosh was one second ahead of Armstrong and five ahead of Canchola, but most of the people in attendance, including MacIntosh, expected Canchola to roar away to victory in the last mile.

"I was surprised she didn't," MacIntosh said. "The whole time, I kept expecting her to come by me."

Nordhoff placed three runners among the top eight finishers in the girls' race, but things did not start well for the defending State Division III champion Rangers.

Kendra Greene, their No. 4 runner for most of the season, tripped and fell at the start of the race and was last in the 107-runner field after the first quarter-mile.

Although Greene finished 23rd as Nordhoff's fifth runner, Reeves didn't know the Rangers won until the official scores were announced.

Thousand Oaks Coach Jack Farrell knew how Reeves felt as his favored Lancers were in control of the boys' race early before narrowly holding off Newbury Park and Rio Mesa.

Paced by 12th-place John Haskell, who ran 16:12, and 14th-place Danny Kilgore, who finished in 16:14, Thousand Oaks totaled 106 points to win its fourth county title in the last five years.

Newbury Park was second with 110 points, followed by Rio Mesa with 113.

"We had the race well in hand at the midway point," Farrell said.

"But it was one of those races where we were giving up points the whole second half. Guys kept getting passed. . . . We'll take it, but it's kind of like when your bullpen gives up six runs and you still win."

As expected, a Nordhoff runner won the boys' title. But it was Dusty Herman, not fellow junior Victor Ochoa.

Ochoa had a five-second lead on Herman and James Hipskind of Buena at two miles in 10:07, but a cramp in his hip in the final mile dropped him to 11th in 16:12.

Herman timed 15:35 and held off Hipskind, who ran 15:37, with Chris Ramirez of Royal third in 15:48.

"I didn't expect to win," Herman said. "I figured that Victor would win and I'd try to give us a 1-2 finish, but he just couldn't go with me with his hip the way it was."

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