During the 1984 track season, Valhalla High School distance runner Mark Dani was a perfect example of proper training and planning.
Dani failed to win at any of the invitational meets, but came on in the San Diego Section finals and won the mile going away.
“We don’t worry about the invitationals,” Valhalla distance Coach Pat King said. “We just worry about the big stuff.”
Last Saturday, however, Dani was very much the county’s best in the South Bay-Pepsi Cross-Country Invitational at Southwestern College. Dani, a senior, won the Division 2 race and covered the 5,000-meter course in 15:39, 21 seconds faster than the day’s next best mark.
The win was not an indication that Dani, King and Valhalla head Coach Don Roberson have deviated from their previous training methods of having Dani peak for the finals.
“We’re still emphasizing the end of the season,” King said. “He’s just gotten so much stronger this season through his training.”
This was Dani’s first appearance at Southwestern College since he finished 11th in the San Diego Section finals last season. His return, however, was hardly a disappointment.
“It was a good, hard effort,” King said. “He pushed it from the start.”
The win means Dani may have to carry the burden of being recognized as San Diego’s best distance runner the rest of his senior year.
“I don’t think he’s too concerned about it,” said King, once a distance running standout himself. “Mark just wants to do good as a team and run his best race every time out. That’s just the way he is.
“He’s not concerned with how he matches up with everyone else.”
For now, anyway, the competition is 21 seconds behind and chasing.
Add South Bay Invitational: Mark Davis of San Diego High won the Division 1 race in 15:50 for 5,000 meters and Rob Lopes of Monte Vista was the Division 3 winner in 15:50.
Grossmont’s Darcy Arreola had the top girls’ time of the day. Last season’s 3-A champion covered the two-mile course in 11:33 to win the Division 3 race. University City’s Laura Chapel was the Division 1 winner in 11:36. San Pasqual’s Kerry Panno won the Division 2 race in 11:48.
Add cross-country: Many former San Diego prep standouts ran as collegians in Saturday’s Aztec Invitational at Balboa Park.
In the men’s 10,000 meters, UCLA senior Rich Brownsberger, formerly of Valhalla High, finished 16th in 31:04. Ellis del Sol, who won the San Diego Section two-mile individual championship in track last season at Hilltop, finished 49th for Northern Arizona University. Paul Boudreaux, formerly at Mount Carmel, finished 118th as a freshman for Arizona State.
Former Bonita Vista standout Heather Brooks finished 43rd in the women’s race Saturday. Brooks is a freshman at Cal State Northridge. Lesley Noll, who ran for Mount Carmel, finished 108th as a freshman for USC.