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Another Fun Run for Newbury Park


VENTURA — Mike Stewart, in his 24th season as a cross-country coach at Newbury Park High, knows as well as anyone that running well in September doesn't guarantee similar results in the championship meets in November.

But he's been pleased with the way the top five runners on his boys' team have performed in the first two meets.

Newbury Park defeated Camarillo, Crescenta Valley, Burbank and Agoura on Sept. 7 and the Panthers performed even better in the small schools race of the Ojai Invitational at Lake Casitas on Saturday.

Newbury Park didn't post an official victory because it was a non-scoring meet, but the Panthers had five of the top 17 finishers, led by senior Brandon Nakagawa in fourth place and junior Randy Smith in fifth.

Newbury Park, the No. 7-ranked team in the Southern Section Division III poll, would have totaled a winning 46 points in the race had it been a scoring affair.

Santa Clara, the top-ranked Division V team, would have been second with 61, followed by Nordhoff, the No. 2 Division III team, with 70.

"We were able to keep the gap between our first and fifth man to [39] seconds," Stewart said. "And that wasn't easy, considering how hot it was."

The temperature was around 90 degrees at the start of the boys' small schools race at 9 a.m.

Nakagawa finished fourth with a time of 16:27 over the three-mile course after running in the lead pack with Bobby Hull and Michael Reed of Santa Clara and Justin Stevens of San Luis Obispo for the first half of the race.

Smith finished in 16:35, with senior Joe LaSecla eighth in 16:43, senior Warren Livingston 12th in 16:54 and senior Alex Omoto 17th in 17:06.

"They just have to deal with it," Stewart said when asked about the heat. "I know that sounds cruel, but that's the way it is when the weather gets like this."

Hull was first in 16:08, with Reed third in 16:15 for Santa Clara and junior Mike Owen sixth in 16:37 for Nordhoff.

Royal, paced by sophomore Tim Hearst, had three of the top nine finishers in the boys' large schools race and would have defeated Paso Robles, 48-58.

Senior Joel Martinez and junior Jose Marino gave Paso Robles a 1-2 finish with times of 15:58 and 16:17. Hearst was third in 16:20, with junior Travis Patterson sixth in 16:33 and junior Charlie Serrano ninth in 16:47 for Royal.

Quartz Hill had four of the top eight finishers in the girls' large schools race and would have defeated Royal, 41-60.

Freshman Lacey Troth placed third in 20:05 for Quartz Hill with seniors Jenny Yadon and Katie Schettig a second behind her in fourth and fifth, and sophomore Tarah Novelli eighth in 20:34 for the Rebels, top-ranked team in the region by The Times.

Troth, Yadon, Schettig and Novelli led the pack through the first mile in 6:07, before being passed by senior Kelley Hess of Thousand Oaks and freshman Meagen Snell of Arroyo Grande.

Hess ran at Lake Casitas on Saturday instead of in the Mt. Carmel Invitational in San Diego with her varsity teammates because she had a club soccer game in the afternoon.

She paced herself off senior Jaclyn Pedersen of Royal for the first mile, but when Pedersen began to fade, she set her sights on the Quartz Hill foursome.

"I wasn't really sure what they were doing," Hess said. "So I ran behind them [until about the 1 1/4-mile mark] before taking the lead."

She had a 14-second lead on Snell after coming through the two-mile mark in 12:48 and the lead was 22 seconds when she crossed the finish line in 19:25.

Pedersen, winner of the senior race in the Seaside Park Invitational on Sept. 8, finished 20th in 21:29.

Nordhoff had three of the top 12 finishers in the girls' small schools race. Lindsey Owen of Nordhoff clocked 19:09 to defeat runner-up Lauren Dvoracek of Village Christian by 36 seconds in a battle of talented freshmen.

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