The Nordhoff High girls' cross-country team probably didn't need any extra motivation in its quest for a second consecutive state Division IV title this year.
But Corona del Mar supplied the Rangers with plenty in the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational on Friday.
First, Corona del Mar kept its best runners out of the Division IV sweepstakes race--won by Nordhoff--so the Sea Queens could run in the Division I-II team sweepstakes race this morning.
Then several members of that team cheered on their teammates wearing turquoise T-shirts with white lettering that read, "CDM girls' cross-country. State '99. We'll win this time!"
Coach Ken Reeves of Nordhoff said he understood Corona del Mar's desire to run against some of the best Division I and II teams in the state in the team sweepstakes. But the move could also be interpreted as the Sea Queens' way of saying they didn't think they'd be challenged in the Division IV race.
The T-shirts left little to interpretation.
Although Corona del Mar lost to Nordhoff by one point in the state final last year, the Sea Queens are ranked first in Division IV and 12th in Harrier magazine's national poll. They feel pretty good about their chances for the state title this year.
Nordhoff, however, is still dangerous.
The Rangers, led by first-place Rae Stumbough, beat Moraga Campolindo, 83-120, for the Division IV sweepstakes title. The cumulative time of the Rangers' top five runners was 100:02, more than three minutes faster than they ran last year in finishing second to Corona del Mar.
Stumbough, a senior, clocked 18:48 over the hilly 2.95-mile course to defeat second-place Wendy King of McFarland by 20 seconds, stunning Reeves.
"I was surprised by Rae," Reeves said. "She was out for three days last week with that flu thing that's going around. I was expecting a time in the 19:25-19:35 range. I never expected her to run like she did."
Stumbough, 15th in the state Division IV final last year, trailed King and McFarland teammate Alicia Veiss for the first half-mile before taking the lead.
She had a three-second advantage over her pursuers after a 5:31 mile, and an 11-second lead at the base of the aptly named Poop-out Hill just before two miles.
Sophomore Robin Quinn of Nordhoff finished 11th in 19:46, and freshman Bessie Hatch was 14th in 20:00 for the Rangers.
McFarland totaled 95 points in the boys' Division IV sweepstakes race to edge Oak Park (102) and two-time defending state champion Nordhoff (108) in the most talent-laden race of the day.
Junior Mark Nevers placed fourth in 15:31 for Oak Park and senior Erik Wackenstedt was 14th in 16:06.
Junior Roberto Contreras of Nordhoff finished eighth in 15:56, with senior Kent Krumpschmidt 18th in 16:20 and senior Aiden Short 19th in 16:21 for the Rangers.
"I'm really pleased with the way we ran," Coach Kevin Smith of Oak Park said. "I felt like we stepped up and took it to another level today."
In other races, senior Ryan Burnett of La Canada won the Division III boys' sweepstakes in 15:31 and junior Nicole Bonino paced La Canada to a third-place finish in the girls' Division III sweepstakes.
Bonino, defending Southern Section Division III champion, finished second in 18:52 as the Spartans totaled 89 points.
Livermore Granada placed first with 57 points, followed by Concord Carondelet with 88.