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High Schools | SPOTLIGHT ON CROSS-COUNTRY

Thousand Oaks Is Peaking at the Right Time

November 23, 2001|John Ortega

It doesn't qualify as a case of worst to first, but the Thousand Oaks High girls' cross-country team has made huge strides in the last two weeks.

The Lancers were not ranked among the top 10 teams in the Southern Section Division I poll at the end of the regular season, but they're title contenders entering the state championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday.

"Luck, I don't know," Coach Robert Radnoti said when asked to explain his team's rapid improvement. "I think this is going to happen every single year, but it hasn't."

Thousand Oaks defeated a good Simi Valley Royal squad, 25-30, in a dual meet Oct. 11, but lost to the Highlanders in the Ventura County championships Oct. 26 and in the Marmonte League finals Nov. 1.

The Lancers won their heat in the section preliminaries at Mt. San Antonio College on Nov. 10 while posting the second-fastest team time at the Division I level, but not everyone was convinced of their legitimacy until Saturday, when they finished second to Dana Point Dana Hills in the section championships.

Now they're ranked third in the state behind Dana Hills and Clovis Buchanan, the ninth-and 23rd-ranked teams in the nation by Harrier magazine.

"We didn't have all of our top girls together for many races [during the regular season]," Radnoti said. "But several girls have also run very well the last two weeks."

Thousand Oaks' top four runners, freshman Kathleen Vance, senior Julie Hancock, sophomore Alyson Fletcher and junior Whitney McDonald, each recorded career bests over Mt. SAC's 2.91-mile course in the section championships. But senior Ashley Patteson was 43 seconds off her best as the Lancers' fifth--and final--scoring runner.

"I think our chances are really good to win state," Hancock said. "Our goal is to win state and have all of our runners get [career bests] on that course."

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End of an era: For the first time since 1988, Ojai Nordhoff will not have a boys' or girls' team running in the state championships.

The Ranger boys had six victories, three runner-up finishes and a third at the Division III or IV level in the previous 10 state championships.

The girls won five championships, placed second three times and were third another time over a stretch from 1990-2000.

Both teams placed a nonqualifying fifth in their Division III races of the Southern Section championships.

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Familiar rivals: Junior Phillip Reid of Oxnard Rio Mesa and senior Brandon Lucero of Camarillo will race each other for the eighth time this season in the state championships.

Reid and Lucero ran against each other three times in Pacific View League meets and also met in the Mt. SAC Invitational, the Ventura County championships and the Southern Section preliminaries and finals.

Reid is 7-0 against Lucero, but the difference between them has been close in several races, including the Division I final of the section championships where Reid placed sixth in 15:15 and Lucero was eighth in 15:17.

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All systems go: Sophomore Liza Pasciuto of Murrieta Valley, who collapsed near the two-mile mark of the Southern Section Division I girls' final, plans to run in the West region championships at Mt. SAC on Dec. 1.

Pasciuto, sixth in the national championships last year, passed out Saturday while battling for the lead with eventual winner Emily Vince of Palos Verdes Peninsula. But she has been given a clean bill of health by three doctors, including a cardiologist at Children's Hospital and Health Center San Diego on Wednesday.

"All of the tests indicate that everything is OK," said Pasciuto's mother, Chris. "Now she's prepared to go forward."

Pasciuto said she doesn't remember collapsing.

"I felt fine," she said about the first half of the race. "That's why I'm really confused about what happened."

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