Four points. That's all that separated the Thousand Oaks High School boys' cross-country team from Palos Verdes Saturday in the Southern Section championships at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.
And by that margin, Thousand Oaks kept Palos Verdes from sharing a place in the record books by denying the Sea Kings a victory in the boys' 4-A division.
Thousand Oaks won with the lowest score, 63 points to 67 for Palos Verdes, preserving Bishop High's 10-year-old feat of sweeping both the boys' and girls' divisions.
The Palos Verdes girls did their part, however. One of the country's top teams, they showed remarkable grouping in beating Thousand Oaks. Their top five runners held the 8th-through-12th-place positions throughout most of the three-mile race. It did not matter that Thousand Oaks had three runners ahead, led by Christy Farrell.
It was a bit disconcerting, however, to freshman Julie Crooks, who was the top Palos Verdes finisher in 18 minutes 37 seconds. With less than a mile to go, Crooks hollered for her teammates to try to catch the Lancer runners.
"At 2 1/2 miles we felt we had to get ahead," said Tracy Leichter, Palos Verdes' No. 3 finisher and 10th overall in 18:42.
In the end it did not matter that Farrell and company finished ahead. Thousand Oaks' fourth and fifth team finishers were well behind the top Palos Verdes runners, who finished 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th in the race.
"We had planned on getting ahead of more Thousand Oaks runners," Leichter said. "I was going for a better time (personally), but it was a good team effort, so it wasn't so important."
The Palos Verdes girls never attempted to push for the lead in the race. That was left up to Melissa Sutton, a Newbury Park senior, and Brigid Freyne, a Riverside Poly junior.
Sutton and Freyne waged a stride-for-stride duel through two miles, before Sutton won her second consecutive 4-A title in 17:30. Freyne finished second in 17:42.
As for the Palos Verdes boys, the chances of completing the first team sweep in 10 years looked good early on. Junior David Scudamore led defending champion Richard Erbes of Glendale through the mile, and the remaining Sea Kings were even or ahead of the Thousand Oaks runners.
It was still close after two miles, but Scudamore fell back to third and, back in the pack, the Thousand Oaks runners moved ahead of their Palos Verdes rivals.
Erbes won in 15:14, ahead of Oxnard Hueneme's Anthony Williams, who ran 15:23. Scudamore was fourth in 15:40. John Rogers was Thousand Oaks' top finisher.
Erbes' time was the second fastest of the day behind Aaron Mascorro of Rosemead, who ran 15:04 to win the boys' 3-A.
Going up steep Poop-Out Hill, just before the two-mile mark, Mascorro shook off the pain of a turned ankle suffered while jogging Friday and a pesky Raul Serratos of Moreno Valley.
Serratos, who had been tailgating Mascorro until then, placed second in 15:25.
"Every year I've run against Raul he's broken there (at Poop-Out)," said Mascorro, who planned on surging ahead at that point. "I don't think I could have run faster without the sore ankle. I wasn't going to tell anyone about it, though."
The El Monte Arroyo boys won the 3-A team championship convincingly to affirm their status as the top team in the state. Juniors Derrick Powers, Gerardo Puentes and Jeff Gilkey led Arroyo. . . . Tracey Williams of El Monte Mountain View was trying to become the first girl to win three consecutive individual titles but finished third behind Nicole Houle and Robbyn Bryant of Hesperia. Williams is only a junior, though, and has another shot next year. . . . Chris Lugo of Placentia Valencia won for the second straight year in the boys' 2-A. . . . Sherman Indian took the 1-A boys' championship for the fifth time in seven years.