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Spiker Moves Early, Wipes Out the Field

Southern Section cross-country: Unconventional Ventura junior becomes one of four area champions.


WALNUT — He looks like a surfer.

He wears beads like a surfer.

He even trains in baggy-like surfer shorts.

But there was nothing laid back about the way junior Josh Spiker of Ventura High ran in the Division I boys' race of the Southern Section cross-country championships at Mt. San Antonio College on Saturday.

Spiker took the lead after the first half-mile of the three-mile race and didn't relinquish it while becoming Ventura's first individual section champion.

His time of 15:01 cut 23 seconds from his previous best at Mt. SAC and he defeated previously unbeaten senior Alfonso Leon of Santa Ana by four seconds.

It was one of four individual titles won by runners from the region.

Senior Lauren Fleshman of Canyon took the Division I girls' title in 17:24, sophomore Laura Jakosky of Agoura placed first in the Division II race in 18:42 and sophomore Nicole Bonino of La Canada won the Division III title in 18:46.

Bonino's victory helped defending state champion La Canada win its first section title, and Nordhoff took the Division IV boys' race for its seventh championship of the decade.

The top four teams in each race and the top five individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the state championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Nov. 28.

Spiker's victory was his fourth in a row and eighth in 11 races this season.

"It didn't really feel that hard," Spiker said of his 4:47 first mile. "It felt relaxed so I didn't worry about the pace."

Leon, who ran 15:06 to win the team sweepstakes race of the Mt. SAC Invitational on Oct. 24, closed to within two seconds of Spiker up a series of switchbacks after the mile, but Spiker doubled his lead on the descent.

"I think he's a really strong hill runner," Spiker said. "But I was able to pull away from him on the down hills."

Senior Matt Swaney of Ventura went from 11th to third in the final 1 1/2 miles to finish in 15:19.

His time cut 27 seconds off his best at Mt. SAC and helped Ventura finish sixth with 159 points.

Long Beach Poly, defending state Division I champion, totaled 72 points to win its third consecutive section title.

Santa Ana finished second with 89 points, followed by Saugus with 93, Don Lugo with 108 and Yucaipa with 149.

Senior Dan Klawer of Saugus placed sixth in a career best of 15:27 and senior Jacob Boeding was 16th in 15:41 for the Centurions, who bounced back from a sub-par effort in the section preliminaries.

"I'm proud of the way they were able to put that race behind them," Coach Pam Thompson of Saugus said.

Nordhoff, with sophomore Roberto Contreras fifth in 16:01 and senior Mike Lemon 13th in 16:19, defeated Estancia, 74-105, for the Division IV boys' title.

Notre Dame was third with 106 points as senior Kevin Lelles placed seventh in 16:05 despite running with a stress fracture above his right ankle that kept him out of the previous two meets.

Fleshman, runner-up in the West region championships last year, won her first section cross-country title by breaking away from senior Allyson Marquand of Irvine University after the first mile.

Marquand finished second in 17:55, with sophomore Anita Siraki of Hoover third in 18:27.

Sophomore Jaclyn Pedersen of Royal was fourth in 18:31 and senior Jeanene Gerry of Camarillo placed sixth in 18:38.

Thousand Oaks, with freshman Kelley Hess ninth in 18:45, placed third with 141 points to advance to the state championships for the first time since 1994.

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