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BETWEEN THE LINES | KEEPING TABS

November 21, 1996

No dream finish: A superb freshman cross-country season came to a disappointing end for Kim Mortensen of UCLA in the NCAA District VIII championships at Fresno's Woodward Park on Saturday.

Mortensen, the 1995 national cross-country champion for Thousand Oaks High, had won her first three races this season and finished second behind Arizona sophomore Amy Skieresz in the other two. But she placed 27th Saturday with a time that left her 1 minute, 40 seconds behind Skieresz, who clocked 16:13 over the 5,000-meter course for the victory.

"It was mainly an off race," UCLA Coach Eric Peterson said. "The thing that might have led to it was that she had been dealing with a hamstring tendon strain since before the Pre-NCAA championship meet."

Mortensen had finished 15 seconds behind Skieresz in that race Oct. 19 and was 18 seconds back of her in the Pacific 10 Conference championships on Nov. 2. But she had been forced to reduce her training load to let the injury heal and Peterson thinks that might have adversely affected her confidence in the District VIII meet.

"I know she was capable of running better than that, but she got rattled right away," Peterson said. "You could tell after the first 300 meters that she wasn't going to run a great race."

Although Mortensen's bid to qualify for the NCAA championships came up short, Northern Arizona senior Rikke Pedersen was successful in the District VII meet in Fort Collins, Colo.

Pedersen, from Simi Valley High, placed 10th to lead the Lumberjacks to a fourth-place finish and an at-large berth in the NCAA meet in Tucson on Nov. 25.

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