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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | CROSS-COUNTRY

Best Times Mean More Later On to Thornton

September 15, 2000|JOHN ORTEGA

Katy Thornton of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy laid off the track workouts this summer in hopes of running faster at the end of cross-country season.

Thornton, a senior, was in very good shape at the start of last season after running interval workouts with the San Fernando Valley track club and Coach Laszlo Tabori during the summer of 1999.

But she ended up peaking in mid-October instead of in late November when the Southern Section and state championships were held.

As a result, she finished 20th in the Southern Section Division IV final last year after placing seventh in 1998.

"It wasn't a case of her running just one bad race," Flintridge Sacred Heart Coach Kirk Nishiyama said about the section final. "She was in a position where she was going to have to run a very good race [to advance to the state final] and she just ran OK. . . . She ran her best races early last year and then plateaued."

Thornton isn't worried about that happening again because her summer training was geared to building a strong distance base.

She has done very little speed work, but that didn't seem to hurt last week when she opened the season with a victory in the La Canada all-city meet at the Rose Bowl.

Thornton's 18:47 clocking over the flat, paved, three-mile course wasn't as scorching as the temperatures that day, but it gave her a three-second victory over senior Nicole Bonino of La Canada, the 1998 Southern Section Division III champion and the runner-up last year.

Thornton ran with the lead pack for the first half of the race before surging to a 20-meter advantage that she never relinquished.

"It wasn't a case of me trying to get away from [Bonino] before the finish," Thornton said. "I was feeling really, really strong so I decided to pick up the pace. I got away and I never looked back."

*

Phillip Reid of Rio Mesa continued a roll that started at the end of last track season by winning the sophomore boys' race Friday in the Seaside Park Invitational at the Ventura County Fairgrounds.

Reid, who improved his 3,200-meter best from 10:02 to 9:34.76 in the last three weeks of track season, clocked 15:28 over the three-mile course that wound through the fairgrounds and along the cement path bordering the ocean.

"I wanted to run under 15:30," Reid said after pulling away from Ryan Morgan of Canyon and Tim Hearst of Royal in the final mile. "But I basically looked [at the race] as a good training run because it's so early in the season."

If comparative times mean anything--and they usually do--Reid should be in for his best season. The defending Pacific View League champion ran 52 seconds faster Friday than he did to win the freshman race last year.

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The state championships are 10 weeks away, but the McFarland boys' team stamped itself as a favorite to win its second consecutive Division IV title--and record eighth overall--with a runaway victory in the Seaside Invitational.

McFarland, led by senior winner Andres Gomez and junior winner Giovanni Perezchica, combined for a team time of 77:05 to defeat second-place Canyon by more than two minutes.

Gomez and Perezchica had the two fastest times of the meet at 14:59 and 15:02, respectively, but four other McFarland runners broke 16 minutes and a fifth clocked 16:03.

*

The Newbury Park boys' team defeated Camarillo, Crescenta Valley, Burbank and Agoura in a nonleague meet at Crescenta Valley Park last week, but Panther Coach Mike Stewart knows from experience that running well early doesn't guarantee similar results in November.

Stewart remembers last year when Newbury Park defeated a good Agoura squad, 26-29, in a dual meet on Oct. 7, but finished a non-qualifying ninth in a Division II heat of the Southern Section preliminaries on Nov. 13.

"Peaking [at the right time] is not fun for me whereas other people do it quite well," Stewart said. "But I like this team. They're a smart team, a close team and they worked hard this summer."

Tight bunching keyed Newbury Park's victory. The gap between the Panthers' No. 1 runner--Brandon Nakagawa--and No. 5 runner--Alex Omoto--was 45 seconds.

Camarillo had the first- and second-place finishers in Brandon Lucero and Johnny Zendejas, but the gap between Lucero and the Scorpions' No. 5 runner--Kenneth Benson--was a minute and 31 seconds.

*

Oak Park Coach Kevin Smith had praise for the Maranatha boys' team after it defeated the Eagles by two points in a four-team meet at Oak Canyon Park last week, but it should be noted that none of Oak Park's top competitors ran.

Seniors Mark Nevers, Ben Saxey and Matt Rice, juniors Chase Ferrell and Taylor Hermes, and sophomore Jason Lindgren were held out of the meet, mostly because they were dinged up from training.

*

The Pacific View League has changed the way it will determine its team champions this year.

The league finals will now count toward 50% of the title with the first two league meets each counting toward 25%.

Each league meet counted for 33 1/3% the previous two years.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Top 10

Rankings of region cross-country teams

BOYS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 1 Canyon (Foothill) 2 2 Oak Park (Tri-Valley) 3 3 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 4 10 Santa Clara (Frontier) 5 5 Nordhoff (Frontier) 6 6 Taft (West Valley) 7 NR Royal (Marmonte) 8 8 Burroughs (Foothill) 9 NR Newbury Park (Marmonte) 10 NR Rio Mesa (Pacific View)

*--*

*

GIRLS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 4 Quartz Hill (Golden) 2 2 Canyon (Foothill) 3 1 La Canada (Rio Hondo) 4 3 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 5 5 Hart (Foothill) 6 6 Westlake (Marmonte) 7 NR Ventura (Channel) 8 7 Royal (Marmonte) 9 8 Nordhoff (Frontier) 10 10 Louisville (Mission)

*--*

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