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Peninsula Surprises Itself


Emily Vince and her Palos Verdes Peninsula High teammates would love to say that they entered the girls' Division I final of the state cross-country championships at Woodward Park in Fresno on Saturday intent on winning a title for Joe Kelly, their retiring coach.

That their goal was to give him a seventh--and final--state title in a head-coaching career that began at Palos Verdes High in 1979.

The truth is, however, that Vince and Co. never imagined themselves winning a race that included two nationally ranked teams and two others ranked ahead of them in the state poll.

"Our goal was to just try to be in the top three," said Vince, a senior. "I don't know if any of us thought we could win. Gosh, I am just so pleased."

Peninsula, paced by Vince's runner-up finish, totaled 150 points to win its second consecutive title. Dana Point Dana Hills was second with 158 points, followed by Thousand Oaks with 166 and Anaheim Esperanza with 174.

Vince ran 17 minutes 46 seconds over the muddy, rain-soaked, 5,000-meter course to finish second, as expected, to senior Amber Trotter of Ukiah. But sophomore teammate Olga Aulet-Leon ran the race of her life by placing 31st in 19:12 after finishing 78th in the Southern Section championships on Nov. 17.

"The one who just went bananas was Olga," said Kelly, 57. "She's an asthmatic who hasn't been the most consistent this year, but she always gives you her best effort."

Junior Tina Downey placed 41st in 19:23 for Peninsula with senior Tracy Bassett 50th in 19:37 and junior Becky Cherry 74th in 20:03.

Dana Hills, which had moved to ninth in Harrier magazine's national poll after winning the Southern Section Division I title, was paced by sophomore Shaun Yourd, who placed 18th in 18:56.

Trotter's 17:01 clocking was six seconds off her best at Woodward Park, but it was a superb effort considering the sloppy and slow conditions. She was one of only three girls to break 18 minutes, along with Vince and senior Clara Horowitz of Oakland Head-Royce, who ran 17:55 in a driving rain to win her second consecutive Division V title.

Oak Park was the other team from the Southern Section to win a girls' title.

The Eagles totaled 110 points to win their first Division IV championship. Orange Lutheran was second with 114 points, followed by Piedmont with 118.

Senior Julie Allen of Newport Beach Corona del Mar placed second in the Division III race, as did Irvine Woodbridge in the Division II race and Palos Verdes Chadwick in the Division V event.

Allen ran 18:29 to finish five seconds behind senior Jenna Timinsky of Encinitas San Dieguito Academy. It was Allen's second consecutive loss to Timinsky after beating her in the Stanford Invitational in September.

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