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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | CROSS-COUNTRY

Wells-Anders Has Hit the Trail, but He's Tracking Bigger Things

November 02, 2000|JOHN ORTEGA

For someone who hopes to accomplish monstrous things during track and field season, Chris Wells-Anders of El Camino Real High has a comparatively modest goal entering the West Valley League cross-country finals at Pierce College today.

He wants to defeat Daniel Clements of Taft for the first time this season and win his first league cross-country title.

Wells-Anders won the boys' 800 meters in the City Section track championships in May and ran a school record of 1:52.28 to place second in the state final in June, but he has never flourished in cross-country.

He was in the midst of a promising junior campaign last year, but missed the last four weeks of the high school season when he sustained a knee injury that required 15 stitches after he was inadvertently tripped by a teammate in practice.

A severely strained left hamstring--suffered while competing in a 400 late in June--prevented him from running in July and August.

But he has managed to be one of the top City runners from the San Fernando Valley this season and hopes to be one of the top runners in the section when the City championships are held at Pierce on Nov. 18.

"Considering everything that happened, this is about what I expected," said the talkative, out-going Wells-Anders.

"I'm real happy with the way I ran last week, but I feel like I'm ready to make some big drops in the next few weeks."

Wells-Anders clocked a career best of 15:56 over Pierce's three-mile course to win a meet against Birmingham and Granada Hills last week, but he feels like he's capable of running in the low 15:40s today and breaking 15:20 in the City final.

Clements, runner-up in the 1,600 and 3,200 in the City track championships, clocked a career best of 15:43 at Pierce two weeks ago.

He finished ninth to Wells-Anders' 16th in the Division I race of the Bell-Jeff Invitational on Sept. 30 and defeated him in a dual meet five days later.

But Wells-Anders ran faster (16:16) in a Division I race of the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational in Walnut on Oct. 21 than Clements (16:22) did in another heat in the same meet.

"I feel that a lot of my competitors are getting tired [after training hard during the summer]," Wells-Anders said.

"And me, I'm just starting to kick it in. I feel like my best races and best training are still to come in the next few weeks, whereas a lot of my competitors are starting to get tired."

Wells-Anders might sound a bit cocky, but he has "immense respect" for Clements, whom he calls a good friend, and for other runners such as City title favorite Raymundo Castillo of Belmont.

"If I could get down to our school record, which I believe is 15:15, in the City finals, I think I could finish in the top three," he said.

"But Castillo will probably break 15."

*

No matter how well Wells-Anders runs in cross-country, track is the sport in which he could earn a scholarship to an NCAA Division I school.

His 800 best of 1:52.28 makes him the second fastest returning competitor in the state in that event.

But he wants to do something next year that only three U.S. high school runners have done previously: Run 1:47.4 or faster.

Knocking five seconds off his best from last year might seem a bit far-fetched to some track experts, but Wells-Anders feels that he'll have the necessary combination of speed and endurance--from cross-country--to do so.

He says he ran 47.1 in a 400 time trial in May and hopes to approach the 46-second barrier next year.

"If I can run in the low 46s in the 400," Wells-Anders said. "I should be able to run 1:47.4 or faster in the 800."

He makes it sound simple.

It's not.

*

Look for senior Natalie Stein of North Hollywood to take a shot at the girls' course record of 17:13 at Pierce in the next three weeks.

Stein, who is an overwhelming favorite to win the City title, ran a career best of 17:50 at Pierce earlier this season.

But she has yet to run an all-out race there.

Her best race of the season might have been a third-place finish in the individual sweepstakes race of the Mt. SAC Invitational when she ran 17:23 on a course that is considerably harder than Pierce.

*

It's unfortunate that the Ventura County championships were canceled on Monday after twice being postponed because of rain.

But it's probably for the best.

The meet would not have lived up to its name had it been held at Lake Casitas in Ventura on Saturday as proposed because many of the county's top performers would not have run after competing in league meets Wednesday or today.

Many coaches felt it would hurt their athletes' performances in the Southern Section championships at Mt. SAC on Nov. 18 if they raced twice in a three- or four-day period at this stage of the season.

*

The Nordhoff and Santa Clara boys' teams will race each other for the final time this season in the Frontier League finals at Lake Casitas today.

A Nordhoff victory would clinch the Rangers' 10th consecutive league title while a Santa Clara victory would give the Saints their first league championship since 1977.

Nordhoff, the No. 5-ranked boys' team in the state Division III poll, defeated Santa Clara, 32-34, in the first league meet of the season on Sept. 27.

But Santa Clara, the top-ranked Division V team, took the second on Oct. 11 with a 27-29 victory over Nordhoff.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Top 10

Rankings of cross-country teams from the region

BOYS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 1 Canyon (Foothill) 2 2 Oak Park (Tri-Valley) 3 3 Royal (Marmonte) 4 4 Newbury Park (Marmonte) 5 5 Nordhoff (Frontier) 6 6 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 7 7 Santa Clara (Frontier) 8 8 Camarillo (Pacific View) 9 9 Burbank (Foothill) 10 10 Fillmore (Tri-Valley)

*--*

*

GIRLS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 1 Quartz Hill (Golden) 2 2 Canyon (Foothill) 3 3 La Canada (Rio Hondo) 4 4 Royal (Marmonte) 5 5 Nordhoff (Frontier) 6 6 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 7 7 Agoura (Marmonte) 8 8 Ventura (Channel) 9 9 Simi Valley (Marmonte) 10 10 Highland (Golden)

*--*

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