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Woodbridge Invitational Cross-Country : Corona del Mar Boys’ Team Dominates With Depth

Times Staff Writer

A few points became obvious at the Woodbridge Invitational cross-country meet at Woodbridge High School Saturday:

--Santa Ana Valley’s Jimmy Rodriguez appears to be Orange County’s man to beat this season.

--The Corona del Mar boys’ program, which has more than 90 runners, might have the depth to dominate for several years.

--Valencia sophomore Heather Killeen should be one of the fastest girls on any course this season--providing she doesn’t get lost on the way.

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The meet, co-sponsored by the Newport/Irvine Rotary Club, managed to run smoothly despite the congestion. An estimated 3,000 runners competed in the 20 races, with each race separated by only 15 minutes.

It was in the ninth race--the medium-school senior boys’ division--where Rodriguez made his move and his mark.

After running the first two miles with Corona del Mar’s Eddie Lavelle and Walnut’s Scott Hemple, Rodriguez surged the final half mile to win in 14 minutes 40 seconds. That broke the former course record of 14:41 set in 1985 by Darren Stonerock of Saugus.

Hemple, second in 14:51, and Lavelle, third in 14:58, also contributed to a record of sorts. It was the first time three runners had broken 15 minutes on the course in the same race.

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Hemple, who won the State Division II title last November and who had never loss a cross-country race to Rodriguez, said: “I never do that well at the beginning of the season anyway.”

Corona del Mar, the second-ranked team in the Southern Section 4-A, dominated the boys’ portion of the meet.

The Sea Kings won the freshman, junior and senior class races, and took the Sweepstakes Trophy (top team of the day) and the Grand Champion Trophy (based on total time of the best five finishers).

The only race Corona del Mar didn’t win was in the sophomore division. The Sea Kings lost that race to Helix, 89-90.

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“All the individual performances were great,” Sea King Coach Bill Sumner said. “But, for us, the deal is our depth. That’s what we’re the most proud of.”

For Killeen, her moment of pride came not only in recording the fastest time for a county girl, but for being able to overcome unexpected disaster.

Sharing the lead with Karen Hecox of South Hills through the first mile, Killeen decided to surge at the two-mile mark. She did, but in doing so missed a turn and ran about 40 yards off course.

“Just as I took the lead this cheerleader was clapping and saying, ‘Yeah, all right, way to go!’ ” Killeen said. “Then all of a sudden I heard her say, ‘Hey! You’re going the wrong way.’ ”

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Killeen managed to catch up, but just as she did, Hecox pulled away to the finish, winning in 17:56, the fastest girls’ time of the day. Killeen was second in 18:07, almost a 30-second improvement over her finish at Woodbridge last year.

Meet Notes

Martin Morales of L.A. Wilson (14:46) and Bill Gould of Capistrano Valley were the only other runners to break 15 minutes Saturday. . . . In the afternoon portion of the meet, Woodbridge upset Newport Harbor, top-ranked in the Southern Section 4-A, in the small schools girls’ varsity division. Newport Harbor edged Woodbridge last season for the state title.


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