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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | STATE CROSS-COUNTRY

Championship Overview

November 25, 2000

Some 1,600 runners from more than 200 teams will compete in the state cross-country championships today at Woodward Park in Fresno. The meet begins with the Division III boys' race at 8:30 a.m. and concludes with the Division II girls' race at 1:20 p.m.

BOYS

Division I

Team favorites: Long Beach Poly, the No. 2-ranked team in the nation by Harrier magazine, is favored to win its third title in four years and give the Southern Section 13 Division I boys' championships since the state meet began in 1987. Rialto, second to Poly in the Southern Section championships, and Central Section champion Clovis are expected to battle for the runner-up spot.

Individual favorites: J.J. Duke of Clovis ran 14:56 to win the individual sweepstakes race of the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational on Oct. 21 and placed sixth in the state meet last year. Ozzie Pina of Long Beach Poly ran 15:09 to win the team sweepstakes at Mt. SAC and clocked 15:04 in winning the Southern Section title at Mt. SAC last Saturday.

Keep your eyes on: Senior Efrain Olivares of Hoover, who will try to become the fourth runner from that school to place among the top 10 finishers in a boys' Division I final. Olivares was fifth in the Southern Section meet.

Division II

Team favorites: Canyon has been the top-ranked team in the state for most of the season and should win if healthy. The Cowboys defeated No. 5 Rubidoux, 80-111, for the Southern Section title even though No. 4 runner Ryan Morgan ran 29 seconds slower than his best at Mt. SAC after missing several days of school because of the flu. Carmichael Jesuit, Rubidoux, St. John Bosco, Sultana and Eureka all appear capable of winning should Canyon falter.

Individual favorites: Steven Murray of Santa Margarita won the Southern Section title by 10 seconds. Shaun Lyle of Eureka and Yong-Sung Leal of San Lorenzo Arroyo are other potential winners. Nick Zoetewey of Canyon could be in the title hunt if he's recovered from a cold that slowed him the last two races.

Keep your eyes on: Sophomore Phillip Reid of Rio Mesa and a Burbank team led by senior Thomas Harley. Reid finished fourth in the Southern Section championships and improving Burbank placed fifth in the section final.

Division III

Team favorites: Defending champion Bosco Tech was the favorite a week ago, but No. 6 Norwalk upset the Tigers, 70-92, for the Southern Section title. Los Gatos and Corcoran, which finished first and second in the Division III sweepstakes race at the Mt. SAC Invitational, also appear capable of winning.

Individual favorites: Matt Sartor of Redding Enterprise is a clear favorite with his biggest challenges expected to come from Stuart Eastman of Placer, Southern Section champion Puneet Mahan of Norwalk, Russell Martin of Los Gatos and Hector Figueroa of Corcoran.

Keep your eyes on: The teams from Newbury Park and Nordhoff, which finished fourth and fifth in the Southern Section final, despite running subpar races. Two of Newbury Park's top five runners were recovering from colds in the section meet and Nordhoff went out too quickly in the first mile and faded badly.

Division IV

Team favorites: Defending champion McFarland has been the top-ranked team in the state all season and should win an unprecedented eighth state title. Riverbank, Southern Section champion Oak Park and Estancia are expected to battle for the runner-up spot.

Individual favorite: Defending champion Ryan Hall of Big Bear is the heaviest favorite in the meet because his 14:28 clocking in the Southern Section championships broke the Mt. SAC record of 14:32 set by Jeff Nelson of Burbank in 1978. Billy Nelson of Taft, near Bakersfield, and Andres Gomez of McFarland appear to be the best of the rest.

Keep your eyes on: Senior Mark Nevers of Oak Park, who is trying to place among the top three finishers for the third consecutive year.

Division V

Team favorites: Santa Clara, top-ranked team in the state for most of the season, and two-time defending champion Flintridge Prep are expected to stage another close battle. Santa Clara defeated Flintridge Prep, 54-62, for the Southern Section title after finishing two points in front of the Rebels in the Division V sweepstakes race at Mt. SAC.

Individual favorites: Defending champion Tom Kubler of Viewpoint and 1999 runner-up Henry Hagenbach of Cate have split two races this season. Kubler defeated Hagenbach for the Southern Section title and their places were reversed in the Division V sweepstakes race at Mt. SAC.

Keep your eyes on: Seniors Bobby Hull and Michael Reed of Santa Clara, who could give the Saints a big boost toward their first state title if they can place among the top 10 finishers.

GIRLS

Division I

Team favorites: Buchanan, top-ranked team in the state, won the team sweepstakes race in the Mt. SAC Invitational, but No. 2 Peninsula is coming off a runaway victory in the Southern Section championships in which the cumulative time of its top five runners was the second-fastest ever run on the Mt. SAC course.

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