State Prep Cross-Country Championships : Arroyo Boys Are Cut Above the Rest

Times Staff Writer

What price victory? For Tim O'Rourke, it will prove to be a hair-raising experience.

O'Rourke, coach of the cross-country team at Arroyo High School in El Monte, promised he would shave his hair and beard if his Knights won the boys' Division I championship at the inaugural state meet. After Arroyo capped an outstanding season with a victory Saturday at Woodward Park, plans for O'Rourke's grooming were being made.

It will be done at a pep rally this week, someone said. Maybe even on stage during an assembly. Wherever, O'Rourke will be there.

"I'd shave every hair on my body for this," O'Rourke said.

The Knights, the Southern Section 3-A champions, put 5 runners in the top 37--Jaime Ortega, Jeff Gilkey, Derrick Powers, Gerardo Puentes and Mike Deitch--and scored 41 points to easily beat Dana Hills (115) in scoring that excluded runners competing as individuals.

"Our goal at the beginning of the year was to be one of the greatest teams ever in (high school) cross-country," O'Rourke said, "and I think we may have done it."

The Palos Verdes High girls team beat Agoura and Hesperia for the Division I championship.

Palos Verdes appeared to be in trouble at the outset. The way the Sea Kings had dominated this year, this had to be one of the few times Coach Joe Kelly was concerned.

"We talked for two weeks that I wanted them to go out and get a good start, and then I saw them get engulfed," Kelly said. "Other than that, they ran fine. They are so confident, they knew exactly what they had to do."

Hesperia, stepping up in competition after finishing second to Agoura in the Southern Section 2-A meet two weeks ago, placed three runners in the top 10: Nicole Robbins (fourth), Robbyn Bryant (fifth) and Nicole Houle (10th).

As impressive as Arroyo and Palos Verdes were, neither could match the feat of Agoura, which had the boys' individual winner (sophomore Bryan Dameworth) and the girls' individual winner (freshman Deena Drossin) in Division I.

The other winners in a standout day for the Southern Section on the 5,000-meter course:

Boys' Division II--Walnut, with top runner Scott Hemple taking the individual title. The Mustangs were the only team to turn the double.

Girls' Division II--Newport Harbor won the team title, led by junior Stacy Pando (9th) and and sophomore Kim Robinson (13th), won the team title. Junior Kira Jorgensen of Rancho Buena Vista of the San Diego Section was the individual winner in 17:34, with sophomore Karen Hecox from South Hills of Covina second in 17:48.

Boys' Division III--In the only race in which the Southern Section was shut out, Reggie Williams of River City in West Sacramento won the individual title in 15:29, and McFarland took team honors.

Girls' Division III--Maranatha of Sierra Madre concluded the day by taking the team title. Katy McCandless of Palo Alto Castilleja was the individual winner in 17:51, with Serrano of Phelan placing Tanya Thayer second and Zita Hillinger fourth.

The Southern Section won 8 individual and team championships out of a possible 12.

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