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The Preps / Scott Howard-Cooper : It’s Fun and Games for Palos Verdes’ Cross-Country Team

A month and a day from now, the Palos Verdes cross-country program will continue a 3-year-old ritual. If you’re in the area, it’ll be tough to miss.

The Sea Kings, 80 boys and girls, will celebrate Halloween in their own way. Coach Joe Kelly likes to bill this group as a family, so the runners will go out for the usual workout together, as a family, in an unusual fashion, in costume.

The costumes can’t be too complicated, for there will be a run to do, but they keep the mood lively and relaxed, and that’s just the way Kelly likes it.

That’s the point to the day, just as is the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre for the distance runners on the track team, a combination race and scavenger hunt. For Halloween, Kelly will give out small prizes like jogging shorts for the best attire.

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The winner two years ago was a runner who came as a nerd. “It kind of matched his personality,” Kelly said. “He won the award, but I don’t think he quite realized the irony.”

Kelly’s unusual methods seem to work, this year more than ever.

“We’re always trying to emphasize that the running we do is for high school sports and should be more of a fun activity, even though it is a business of sorts,” Kelly said. “We do a lot of things as a team that maybe some other schools don’t in order to make it fun.”

This year, the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams at Palos Verdes are the No. 1 teams in the Southern Section 4-A polls. The boys are good, and the girls are very good, as in among the best in the nation.

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But the way both teams have reached that level with such youth is somewhat surprising.

The boys, fourth-place finishers in the Southern Section last year, have only one senior among the current top seven, Sky Piper. Junior David Scudamore is the top runner, just as he was last year, and another junior, Bennie Cravatt is No. 2.

The group that couldn’t even win the Bay League freshman title a few years ago has become the best in the area. The Sea Kings have a 3-0 record in dual meets, were winners at the Laguna Hills and Royal invitationals, and runners-up behind two Northern California schools last weekend in Fresno.

The girls are the defending 4-A champions with a junior, Tracy Leichter; a sophomore, Ashley Black, and a freshman, Julie Crooks, the top three runners. They are also 3-0 and have won all three invitationals, this without the No. 1 runner from last year, sophomore Traci Goodrich, who has spent the season trying to come back from an undiagnosed problem with asthma or bronchitis.

This week, there is a dual meet Thursday against Torrance and then the 19th annual Kenny Staub Invitational Saturday morning at 8:30.

The Thursday meet will be on the school grounds at Torrance, the invitational, sponsored by Crescenta Valley of La Crescenta, at Crescenta Valley County Park.

And this is one family that likes to have fun at the park.

A tip to coaches who have football games coming up at Locke: Use the sideline chains to gauge distance for a first down, not the hash marks.

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And to coaches who have played games at Locke in the past: About those statistics . . .

Seems someone at the school goofed. No one knows who and no one knows when.

What is known for sure is that the field is marked off for 105 yards.

Athletic Director Wally Hugo paced the length of the field several times Friday afternoon during the Saints’ game against Verbum Dei with a bewildered look, which is kind of understandable under the circumstances. He counted the lines, he counted his paces and he counted the sideline markers. He scratched his head a little, too.

Finally, he looked to the first-down chain on the sidelines and saw it stretched from the 20 to the 31. That, combined with the understanding that the original goal posts are still set in the ground and that they would have been placed only after an official measurement, seems to indicate that the field really is 100 yards. It just has too many five-yard intervals.

“I’m going to start looking at more football fields around here,” he said.

How long it has been like this, however, he could not answer. The lines were burned a couple days earlier for the home opener--but on top of the lines from last year.

It’s a little embarrassing, Hugo said, but no real harm done. At least nothing beyond statistics and the halftime shows.

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“The band director is probably going crazy because they have to know their steps on the lines,” he said.

Prep Notes Coach Marijon Ancich won his 200th game last Thursday as Tustin beat Irvine, 10-7. No one has been able to say officially whether he is the first Southern Section coach to reach that milestone, but he does have the most wins among active coaches in the section. All but 12 of the victories were recorded at St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs between 1961-81. He was an assistant coach at Cerritos College and Northern Arizona before returning to the high school ranks in 1984. His prep record: 200-48-6. . . . Fernando Pastrama, a junior wide receiver from Calexico, caught 4 passes for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns Friday night in the Bulldogs’ 22-21 win over Holtville of the San Diego Section. The last one, a 75-yard play, was the game winner with 15 seconds to play. Quarterback Mike Lopez was on the throwing end. Pastrama’s other receptions were good for 70, 70 and 40 yards and he has 621 yards and 6 touchdowns in 12 catches this year. . . . The Cerritos football team will wear a black star on the backs of its helmets in memory of those killed in the recent AeroMexico plane crash in that city. . . . Anthony January, an All-City basketball selection last season for Carson, has enrolled at Harbor College after failing to meet entrance requirements at Texas El Paso.

Coach John McKissick, who turned 60 last Thursday, won his 337th game the next night for Summerville, S.C., setting a national record for most victories by a coach at the same school. Gordon Wood, who retired last year at Brownwood, Tex., at 71, holds the overall mark with 405 wins. . . . Despite a crowd of only 9,131 last season, the Big Five Conference football championship will be played at Anaheim Stadium again this year. . . . Charlie Brande, who coached the Corona del Mar girls’ volleyball team to a state championship in 1984, has been fired for insubordination, officially at least. Brande, a walk-on coach, maintains that his dismissal Sept. 19 was based solely on several letters to the superintendent’s office accusing him of physically abusing a player, which he denies. “I don’t think there’s any reason for it,” Ron Davis, athletic director for the Newport Beach school, told The Times’ Steve Lowery last week. “We want him back. His entire team has signed a petition to get him back, but right now our hands are tied.”


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