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Matusak Is First in a Dry Run

October 26, 2003|John Ortega | Times Staff Writer

Mark Matusak of Los Angeles Loyola entered the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational cross-country meet wondering whether he could beat Mohamed Trafeh of Duarte.

He left it knowing that he could.

Matusak, a junior, posted a time of 14 minutes 33 seconds to defeat second-place Trafeh by five seconds and beat third-place finisher Troy Swier of Imperial Beach Mar Vista by 20 seconds in the boys' individual sweepstakes race Saturday at Mt. SAC.

Matusak's time equaled the second-fastest performance on the 2.91-mile course that has been in use at Mt. SAC since 1999. It also was a junior-class course record that cut 34 seconds off his previous best at the site.

Ryan Hall of Big Bear set the course record of 14:28 in the 2000 Southern Section Division IV final.

"It's huge," the undefeated Matusak said. "Coming to Mt. SAC, running in the individual sweeps. You know it's going to be a big race."

Chino Don Lugo romped to the boys' team sweepstakes title in a race won by junior Dylan Jaedtke of Simi Valley Royal in 15:01.

Murrieta Valley won the girls' team sweepstakes title and senior Rachel Bryan of Elk Grove Laguna Creek won the individual sweepstakes race in 17:14, the fastest girls' time during the two-day meet.

The last 15 of the day's 57 races -- all involving freshman, sophomore or junior-varsity runners -- were canceled because of high temperatures and poor air quality due to the proximity of wildfires raging in Rancho Cucamonga. Several runners required medical attention for symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Swier and Trafeh each ran 14:38 to finish second and third to Tim Nelson of Redding Liberty Christian in the individual sweepstakes at Mt. SAC last year.

This time, Irvine Woodbridge's Michael Haddan had a nine-second lead after running a mile in a blazing 4:34. But the chase pack -- led by Trafeh -- passed a fading Haddan while ascending the switchbacks a quarter-mile later. Trafeh and Matusak were in a two-man race as they approached the aptly named "poop-out hill" shortly before the two-mile mark.

Trafeh led Matusak by a stride after running two miles in 9:54, but Matusak surged into the lead once the pair crested the final hill with a half-mile to go.

"I noticed on the switchbacks that Mohamed wasn't going that hard down the hills," Matusak said. "So I figured that if I could stay with him up [the final] hill, I would pick it up coming down and see what would happen."

The loss was the first of the season for Trafeh.

"My strategy was to run with a lead pack, Trafeh said. "But when [Haddan] took it out so fast, I ended up having to lead the race after passing him."

Don Lugo, the No. 12-ranked boys' team nationally according to Harrier magazine, won its fourth invitational of the season with an 81-128 victory over No. 22 Royal in the team sweepstakes race.

Don Lugo was paced by junior Fitsum Tesfa, who placed fourth in 15:10. Sophomore Alfred Gonzales was eighth in 15:22 and senior Ruben Ramirez was ninth in 15:23 for the Spartans.

Murrieta Valley, ranked 11th nationally, won the team sweepstakes title with a 70-82 victory over No. 13 Reno (Nev.). Hesperia Sultana, ranked 20th, placed third with 105 points.

Senior Liza Pasciuto placed third in 18:03 for Murrieta Valley and freshman teammate Liana Boucher was fourth in 18:08.

The loss was the first of the season for Pasciuto, who was bothered by a bruised left knee.

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