Southern Section Cross-Country Finals : Palos Verdes’ Boys and Girls Attempt to Take Broom to the Field Today
The big news at Palos Verdes High School is that the boys’ cross-country team is in contention to win the Southern Section 4-A championship.
The bigger news is that the girls’ team is almost a cinch to win the 4-A title.
Should the Sea Kings pull off the sweep in the Southern Section cross-country finals at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut today, it would mark the first time in this decade that a school had accomplished the feat. Competition begins at 8:30 a.m.
Not since Bishop High won the boys’ 1-A and the then newly formed girls’ open division in 1976 has one school swept team championships. That was the first year the Southern Section offered girls’ cross-country.
All of this comes as a surprise to Coach Joe Kelly.
“I wasn’t aware it had been done before,” Kelly said.
Forgive Kelly if he’s not up on such cross-country trivia, but he has had his hands full with the 14 runners that make up the top-ranked boys’ and girls’ teams in the 4-A division.
It seems the top cross-country teams also are among the youngest. Of the seven boys, one is a sophomore, four are juniors and two are seniors. The girls’ team has a freshman, three sophomores, two juniors and a senior.
The boys were fourth last year. The girls are the defending 4-A champions.
“With some luck, the boys will get a title this year,” Kelly said.
The boys’ hopes rest with junior David Scudamore, the Sea Kings’ No. 1 runner.
“David’s at his absolute best in tough races,” Kelly said. “He’s consistent. He doesn’t blow up. You can count on him to run close to his best.”
Scudamore won the Sea Kings’ heat at last week’s preliminaries, running 15 minutes 40 seconds over the three-mile course.
Junior Tracy Leichter is the girls’ top-runner. Though she is not likely to challenge for the individual title, Leichter will lead an impressive pack of black-shirted Sea Kings.
The gap between Leichter and the fifth Sea King is usually 30 seconds. That’s important when the lowest team score compiled from the finishing places of the top five runners determines who wins.
At the Mt. SAC Invitational in October, the Sea Kings won the team title by placing five runners in the top 10. Their 93:42 team time (the combined time of the top five runners) was the fourth fastest prep time ever over the Mt. SAC course. "(Newbury Park’s Melissa) Sutton and Brigid Freyne (of Riverside Poly) will run up front,” Kelly said.
“Tracy’s not a premier runner, but she can grind out mile after mile.”
Leichter has taken over the top spot from last year’s No. 1 runner, Traci Goodrich. Goodrich was ill early in the season, and it has taken some time for her to regain her form.
If anyone can beat Palos Verdes, it’s Thousand Oaks. The Thousand Oaks’ boys and girls are second-rated behind the Sea Kings.
Kelly said he’d rather come into the meet as the favorite, rather than the challenger.
A year ago, however, Newport Harbor came into the meet as a heavy favorite to win the girls’ title. Newport Harbor was the top-ranked team in the state, but the Sea Kings, led by Goodrich, pulled off the upset.
“We have a lot of quality runners and a lot of depth,” Kelly said. “We really feel good about the work we’ve put in, but we can’t run with our lips. We’ve got to do it with our legs.”
Cross-Country Notes Richard Erbes of Glendale will be trying for his second straight 4-A individual title. . . . Junior Brigid Freyne of Riverside Poly was 10th a year ago in the girls’ 4-A but has improved to the point that she has a shot at beating defending winner Melissa Sutton of Newbury Park. . . . In the 2-A, Brian Dameworth of Agoura, who last week set a course record for freshmen with his 15:32, will pose a threat to defending winner Chris Lugo of Placentia Valencia. Junior Tracey Williams of El Monte Mountain View is going for her third consecutive girls’ 2-A title. . . . The El Monte Arroyo boys ran to a 79:14 team time in their 3-A heat. Arroyo will be pressed by Hart of Newhall. . . . Also in the 3-A, Rosemead’s Aaron Mascorro and Raul Serratos of Moreno Valley figure to provide the day’s best individual race. Mascorro ran 15:10 in his heat last week, the fastest time of the day. . . . Sherman Indian of Riverside is trying for its fifth boys’ 1-A championship in seven years.
The Palos Verdes girls’ cross-country team has five runners entered in the Kinney Western Regional championships Dec. 6 at Fresno, and none are seniors: junior Tracy Leichter, sophomores Ashley Black, Traci Goodrich and Dana Sublett and freshman Julie Crooks. The top eight finishers at the Woodward Park course, along with the best from three other regionals, advance to San Diego’s Balboa Park for the only high school national championship in the country. That will be held Dec. 13.
A trust has been started to help Diamond Bar cross-country runners Eddie Silva and Brandon Dedrick raise $1,795 each to compete in a 5-K run in the People’s Republic of China. The two juniors were invited and have been going through the community for donations in hopes of leaving Dec. 26, with Los Altos Coach Dave Shirley chaperoning the group. Shirley can be reached at (818) 333-4515.