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Agoura Plays Ace but Royal Is Flush

High school cross-country: Jakosky romps to victory in girls' race, but Highlanders have the depth to win team title.


SIMI VALLEY — Laura Jakosky of Agoura High still is the dominant girls' cross-country runner in the Marmonte League.

But there could be a first-time girls' team champion at the end of the season as long as another Royal runner doesn't take up surfing, skateboarding, karate or some other high-risk sport before then.

Jakosky, defending league and Ventura County champion, posted a runaway victory over fellow senior Jaclyn Pedersen of Royal in a meet at Challenger Park on Thursday. But short-handed Royal beat Agoura, 24-31, in the team battle to take sole possession of first place.

Royal, the No. 4-ranked team in the region by The Times, and No. 10 Agoura had 3-0 league records entering the meet. But Royal was regarded as a heavy favorite because two of the Highlanders' victories came against No. 5 Thousand Oaks and No. 8 Newbury Park, while Agoura beat unranked Westlake, Moorpark and Simi Valley.

Things got interesting, however, when Erin Weesner of Royal was unable to run because she sustained a mild concussion Monday when she wiped out surfing for the first time.

With Weesner--typically Royal's No. 2 runner--sidelined, Agoura's chances at an upset improved.

"It was really hard to put my trust in the team," said Weesner, who didn't realize the severity of her head injury until she started bumping into doors at school on Tuesday. "The whole race I was real nervous."

Pedersen, 1998 Ventura County and Marmonte League champion, led Jakosky through a 6:23 first mile before Jakosky bolted into the lead shortly thereafter.

Royal had a 23-32 lead based on its places at that point. But it wasn't a comfortable advantage as sixth-place Lisa Novik of Agoura was closely pursuing Morgan Noe, Erin Roesinger and Sarah Montez of Royal, who were in third, fourth and fifth places.

In addition, 10th-place Helaina Bernstein of Agoura was nipping at the heels of ninth-place Stacy Youngblood of Royal.

Had Novik passed Noe, Roesinger and Montez, and had Bernstein overtaken Youngblood at that point, Agoura would have cut its deficit to 27-28.

But that didn't happen.

Jakosky placed first with a 19:10 clocking over the three-mile course, followed by Pedersen in 19:57, freshman Noe in 20:48 and freshman Roesinger in 20:56.

Novik and Katie Hudson, freshmen from Agoura, were fifth and sixth in 20:58 and 21:07. But when Montez, a sophomore, placed seventh in 21:47, and Youngblood, a senior, finished eighth in 21:53, Royal was a step closer to winning its first league title and Weesner was off the hook.

"Our [usual] fifth and sixth runners won this race for us today," Pedersen said. "They really came through with Erin out."

Royal ran without sophomore Tim Hearst in the boys' race, but the No. 4-ranked Highlanders still swept the top five places in a 15-48 victory.

With Hearst sidelined because of an injured left hip, junior Travis Patterson won in 17:05 with junior teammate Charlie Serrano second in 17:08 for Royal (3-1, 3-1 in league).

Patterson, who won the 1,600 meters in the league track championships, ran conservatively for the first two miles before clocking 5:06 for the mostly downhill last mile.

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