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the Valley and Ventura County | Today's Focus / Cross-County

Covert Learns His Lesson to Keep Focused on Front

September 17, 1998|JOHN ORTEGA

Chris Covert of Paraclete High committed a big distance running mistake in the Seaside Invitational cross-country meet Friday at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

And it cost him.

Covert, the son of Antelope Valley College cross-country and track coach Mark Covert, was the surprising leader of the junior boys' race after the first mile.

But about a quarter-mile later, he glanced back to check on his closest pursuers.

That action temporarily took his attention away from the final 1 3/4 miles of the race and let competitors such as Seth Neumuller of Thousand Oaks and Daniel Finley of Camarillo know that Covert was concerned about them.

Neumuller, who won the race in 15:15, and Finley, who placed second in 15:47, passed Covert shortly thereafter and four others caught him by the finish line.

Covert's seventh-place 16:11 was one of the top performances of his career, but he says it would have been much better if not for his tactical error.

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When Melissa McBain of Thousand Oaks ran 17:58 to win the senior girls' race of the Seaside Invitational, it was the fastest time of the meet by 22 seconds and 1:35 faster than her performance on the course last year.

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Jack Farrell, who guided the Thousand Oaks boys' and girls' teams to two state Division I and seven Southern Section Division I or 4-A titles during his 20 seasons at the school, is enjoying his retirement from coaching.

Farrell, who stepped down from his cross-country and track positions in June, continues to teach English at Thousand Oaks, but he doesn't miss the hard work and long hours away from home that coaching requires.

"I enjoyed every minute of it when I was doing it," he said at the Seaside Invitational. "But I'm enjoying every minute of being away from it too. Several people told me today that they'd never seen me so relaxed."

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Dan Klawer and Jacob Boeding of Saugus are regarded as the top returning runners in the Foothill League, based on their 1-3 finish in the league finals last year.

Yet Birmingham Coach Scott King predicts that Eric Peatman of Hart will win the individual title when the league finals are held on the hilly College of the Canyons course Nov. 5.

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Saugus and Nordhoff, the Nos. 1- and 2-ranked boys' teams in the region, will run in the Ojai Invitational at Lake Casitas on Saturday, but they won't race against each other.

Saugus, the 1997 Southern Section Division II champion, will run in the large schools race at 10 a.m. Nordhoff, the defending state and Southern Section Division IV champion, will compete in the small schools race at 9 a.m.

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The men's teams from Moorpark and Glendale colleges will renew their rivalry Friday when the season-opening Western State Conference meet is held at Kenneth Hahn Park in West L.A. at 3 p.m.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Top Five

Rankings of cross-country teams from the region

BOYS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 1 Saugus (Foothill) 2 2 Nordhoff (Frontier) 3 4 Notre Dame (Mission) 4 5 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 5 NR Camarillo (Pacific View)

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*

GIRLS

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RK LW School (League) 1 1 La Canada (Rio Hondo) 2 5 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 3 4 Canyon (Foothill) 4 NR Simi Valley (Marmonte) 5 3 Birmingham (West Valley)

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