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Two Helpings of Hay at Del Mar

Junior college cross-country: Moorpark runner finishes second in women's invitational race, wins open race.


DEL MAR — Jody Hay of Moorpark College, dubbed "The Running Girl" by members of the Camarillo High girls' cross-country team when she attended that school, lived up to the nickname Saturday in the Southern California junior college cross-country championships at Del Mar Racetrack.

Hay began the meet by placing second in the women's invitational race to lead Moorpark to a ninth-place finish and a berth in the state championships at Fresno's Woodward Park on Nov. 18.

She ended it by easily winning the women's division of a nonscoring race while running barefoot and wearing an oversized flannel shirt over her Moorpark uniform.

It was not known why Hay raced over the 5,000-meter course for a second time or why she ran barefoot because the diminutive--she can't be taller than 5-foot-2--freshman won't speak to reporters unless they agree to interview all of her teammates.

Hay's unusual policy stems from her desire not to be singled out for her efforts.

"She doesn't like to talk about herself," Coach Doni Green of Moorpark said. "But she'll talk at length about things like the environment. . . . She's very unique."

Hay did not run cross-country or track at Camarillo. But team members Jeanene Gerry and Nicole Richardson often saw her running to and from school. Not to mention on the weekends.

Green hadn't heard of Hay, but he encouraged her to run for Moorpark after seeing her work out on an elliptical trainer in the Moorpark Fitness Center last summer.

"She was on the thing for about an hour and hardly broke a sweat," Green said.

Hay quickly made hay.

She opened the season with a third-place finish in the Fresno Invitational on Sept. 8 and followed with a 19-second victory in the first Western State Conference meet in Santa Barbara a week later.

She won three more races and placed second in two others heading into Saturday's meet, which was run on portions of the dirt and turf horse tracks at Del Mar.

Hay was among the leaders at one mile in 5:40, but she, Heather Shurtleff of Orange Coast and Jennifer Bell of Mt. San Antonio were clear of the pack when they reached two miles in 11:42.

They ran together for another half-mile before Shurtleff surged to a 10-yard lead that grew to about 45 yards at the finish.

Shurtleff, fifth in the state final last year, ran 18:28, with Hay at 18:37 and Bell at 18:47.

Mt. SAC won the team title with 71 points, followed by Cuyumaca with 102, Southwestern with 113, Santa Ana with 143 and three-time defending state champion Orange Coast with 148.

Glendale, led by Nancy Lopez's13th-place effort of 19:31, placed seventh with 205 points.

Moorpark, helped by Gerry's 12th-place time of 19:30, was ninth with 241 points, with Canyons 11th at 302 and Ventura 14th with 427.

The top 14 teams in each race advanced to the state championships, as did the top 30 individuals not on a qualifying team.

Host San Diego Mesa won the men's meet with 34 points.

Glendale, third in the state meet last year, was second with 94 points, followed by Mt. SAC with 99, El Camino with 150 and Fullerton with 153.

Ruben Ruiz, a freshman from Birmingham High, paced Glendale with a 15th-place effort of 21:04.

Valley placed ninth with 349 points, with Moorpark 12th with 369 and Ventura 13th with 379.

Brian Spangenberg of Canyons, a 36-year old sophomore, was the top finisher from the region with a 10th-place effort of 20:56.

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