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It's as Easy as 1-2-3 for Oak Park

Cross-country: Well-rested Eagles take the first three places and win Oak Park-Agoura Invitational.

September 22, 2000|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

OAK PARK — After watching the first two meets of the season from the sidelines, the leading members of the Oak Park High boys' cross-country team made an impressive debut Thursday in the Oak Park-Agoura Invitational at Oak Canyon Park.

Coach Kevin Smith of Oak Park held senior Mark Nevers and others out of the first two meets of this season because he felt his charges were over-raced at the end of last season. But the lack of racing didn't seem to hurt them on a cool, overcast day.

Oak Park, paced by Nevers' course-record effort, totaled 26 points, followed by Newbury Park with 32, Agoura with 98, Malibu with 104 and Calabasas with 109.

Newbury Park (7-1) defeated Camarillo, Crescenta Valley, Agoura and Burbank in a season-opening meet on Sept. 7 and was the dominant team in the small schools race of the nonscoring Ojai Invitational on Saturday. But the Panthers couldn't overcome a 1-2-3 finish by Nevers, Chase Ferrell and Ben Saxey of Oak Park.

"I'm pleased with the way we ran," Coach Mike Stewart of Newbury Park said to Smith. "We trained through this meet and we kept [the gap between our first and fifth runner] to about 45 seconds again."

Newbury Park, the No. 4-ranked team in the region by The Times, was tied with No. 3 Oak Park, 31-31, based on its places after the first mile of the three-mile race. But Oak Park began to take control in the hilly second mile when Ferrell moved from fifth place to third behind Nevers and Saxey.

Oak Park (6-1) had a 27-31 lead on Newbury Park based on its places at two miles and it grew to 26-32 at the finish when sophomore Igor Tregub moved past Newbury Park's No. 5 runner, Alex Omoto, in the final mile to finish ninth.

Nevers, runner-up in the Ventura County championships the last two years, took the lead after the first half-mile and was never challenged on his way to a 15:31 clocking that slashed 25 seconds off the course record he set last year.

He had an 11-second lead after coming through the mile in 4:45 and his advantage grew to 34 seconds when he came through two miles in 10:53.

"I was very surprised with the time," Nevers said. "I just wanted to break 16 [minutes] because I ran 15:56 last year. I didn't think I'd run that fast, being that this was the first meet of the year."

Ferrell, a junior, timed 16:22, with Saxey, a senior, at 16:27.

Tregub was Oak Park's No. 4 runner with sophomore teammate Jason Lindgren 11th in 17:25.

Senior Brandon Nakagawa led Newbury Park to a 4-5-6-7 finish with a time of 16:39.

"This is what we had in mind," Smith said of his team's debut. "This is what we had been waiting for."

Oak Park's victory was doubly impressive because the Eagles, top-ranked team in the Southern Section Division IV poll, were without junior Taylor Hermes, who had a sore throat.

Senior Laura Jakosky of Agoura won the girls' race in a course-record 18:47 while Newbury Park took the team title.

Jakosky, defending Ventura County champion, beat her previous course best of 19:34 set last year.

Newbury Park, paced by runner-up Jennifer Turk, totaled 37 points, followed by Malibu with 44, Agoura with 75, Oak Park with 96 and Calabasas with 108.

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