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Former Area Standouts Making Tracks Across Country

November 08, 1996

The Valley and Ventura County region has traditionally been a hotbed for high school distance runners. Several former standouts, led by Arizona sophomore Amy Skieresz, turned in noteworthy performances in conference championship cross-country meets last week.

Whether it was the Pacific 10 Conference meet in Stanford, the Southeastern Conference finals in Oxford, Miss., the Big Sky Conference championships in Riverdale, Utah, or the Big West Conference meet in Boise, Idaho, former runners from the region played key roles.

Skieresz, a 1995 graduate of Agoura, improved her season record to 5-0 by winning her second consecutive Pac 10 title.

The Wildcat sophomore broke her own course record by nine seconds with a time of 16 minutes 36 seconds over the 5,000-meter distance at Stanford Golf Course.

That effort gave Skieresz an 18-second margin of victory over UCLA freshman Kim Mortensen, formerly of Thousand Oaks High, and the victory was the ninth in her last 10 collegiate races.

In the Southeastern Conference meet, former Agoura standout Ryan Wilson of Arkansas placed second behind teammate Godfrey Siamusiye to help the defending NCAA champion Razorbacks win their sixth consecutive title.

Wilson clocked 24 minutes 1.7 seconds over 8,000 meters--nearly five miles--as top-ranked Arkansas swept the first five places.

There was also a local connection in the women's race as former Nordhoff standout Karen Bockel placed 12th to help Arkansas finish second behind Florida.

Bockel, a native of Germany, was one of two former exchange students from the region who ran well Saturday.

The other was Rikke Pedersen of Northern Arizona, who graduated from Simi Valley in 1992.

Pedersen, a native of Stenloese, Denmark, placed fourth in the Big Sky championships to help the 10th-ranked Lumberjacks to a 30-49 victory over 14th-ranked Weber State.

In the Big West finals, former Oxnard standout Gabriela Rodriguez of UC Santa Barbara finished fifth to lead the Gauchos to a 57-87 victory over second-place Boise State.

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