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Cross-Country Championships

Lopez, Neipp Are Favorites in Roadshow

Southern Section: Rain forces finals to streets of Mt. San Antonio.


WALNUT — Seniors David Lopez of Hoover High and Andrea Neipp of Highland, the top cross-country runners in the region all season, will try to win elusive divisional titles when the Southern Section championships are held at Mt. San Antonio College today.

They won't be running over Mt. SAC's standard three-mile course, however, because this week's rain turned it into a quagmire.

The meet, which starts at 7:30 a.m., will instead be contested over the so-called rain course that winds through the streets of the Mt. SAC campus before finishing on the track.

Rain course or old course, Lopez will be favored to win the Division I title.

He was regarded as one of the top Division I runners in the section last year, but a hamstring injury limited him to a sixth-place finish in the final.

He's been healthy this season and has won eight of nine races, including the team sweepstakes event in the Mt. SAC Invitational where he set a school record of 15 minutes 1 second over the standard course.

He ran an effortless-looking 15:28 to win his heat in the Southern Section preliminaries last week and acknowledges that he was "saving it all" for the final.

"Last year is definitely a lot of motivation," Lopez said. "Basically I'm just tired of not doing as well as I'm expected to do in the big meets. I want to show the college coaches out there that I'm good enough to run for their school, no matter who it is."

Neipp, second to eventual national champion Kim Mortensen of Thousand Oaks in the Division I final last year, is running at the Division II level this season.

A victory won't come much easier, however, as Irvine University sophomore Allyson Marquand, Yucaipa junior Kimi Welsh and Santa Margarita senior Katie Nuances are among her opponents.

Marquand is undefeated this season while Welsh finished fifth and Nuances was seventh in the West regional last year.

Neipp and Lopez are among nine runners from the region who are expected to contend for titles in the meet.

In boys' races, senior Tim Leahy of Burbank is among the favorites in Division II and junior Matthew Torres of St. Bonaventure should contend in Division V.

St. Bonaventure should battle Orange Lutheran for the Division V title.

In the girls' meet, junior Danielle Day of Quartz Hill and sophomore Amanda Armstrong of Thousand Oaks should be among the leaders in the Division I race and junior Elaine Canchola of Nordhoff and senior Sarah Ellis of La Canada are expected to battle for the Division IV title, as will their teams.

St. Bonaventure freshman Susan Torres, Matthew's sister, should contend for the Division V title.

The top four teams in each race and the top five individuals not on a qualifying team but among the top 20 finishers will advance to the State championships at Fresno's Woodward Park on Nov. 30.

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