Although Thousand Oaks High has one of the finest cross-country traditions in the Southern Section, the Lancers have never been known as a team loaded with great individual runners.
True, the Lancers captured boys’ 4-A Division titles in 1980, ’84 and ’86 and placed second in 1979 and ’81, but they have never produced an individual Southern Section cross-country champion.
That could change this year if Mike Williamson continues to perform as he did in winning the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational in Walnut on Saturday.
Williamson, a senior, surged past Bryan Dameworth of Agoura and Luis Quintana of Arroyo Grande in the last mile of the team sweepstakes race, then held off the late rush of John Coyle of Christian Brothers Academy (New Jersey) for the victory. He was timed in 15 minutes, 1 second over the 3-mile course.
Paced by Coyle, Christian Brothers Academy defeated Camarillo, 96-124, for the team title. Poway of San Diego (131), Corona del Mar (145) and six-time defending City Section champion Belmont (159) rounded out the top 5.
Canyon placed sixth (184), Agoura 10th (254) and Thousand Oaks 11th (264).
Palos Verdes, the defending State Division I champion, dominated the girls’ team sweepstakes race. The Sea Kings swept the first 3 places, placed 5 runners in the top 9 and scored 22 points.
Agoura finished a distant second with 88 points, followed by El Toro (124), Poway (125) and Huntington Beach (141).
Williamson’s school-record time was the fastest of the day over the rugged course.
“Mike really made a breakthrough last track season,” Thousand Oaks Coach Jack Farrell said. “He ran 9:19 in the 3,200 and 4:22 in the 1,600, and he’s come a long ways since then.”
He came from quite a way back to upset some better-known runners Saturday.
Running a perfect tactical race, Williamson trailed Dameworth and Quintana at the mile mark (4:43) and remained 15 to 20 yards behind until the leaders started their ascent of the second of 3 major hills on the course.
“I wasn’t really thinking about winning then,” Williamson said. “I was just trying to maintain contact with Bryan.”
Shortly thereafter, Dameworth and Quintana began to fade and Williamson seized the lead from Dameworth with 1,000 yards remaining.
“I heard him coming up on me,” said Dameworth, the defending State Division I champion, “But there was nothing I could do about it. I felt great in the first half of the race but lousy in the second half.”
Dameworth’s 15:11 clocking was a personal best by 12 seconds. He narrowly held off Corona del Mar’s Eddie Lavelle, who finished fourth in 15:13. Quintana faded to fifth in 15:26.
Camarillo juniors Shawn Goetzinger (15:28) and Abe Valdez (15:34) also notched personal bests, placing sixth and eighth. Their efforts did nothing to harm the Scorpions’ status as the No. 1-ranked team in the State Division I and Southern Section 4-A polls.
Canyon, the No. 3-ranked team in the Division I poll, received a superb seventh-place effort from sophomore Dave Hartman (15:29), but the Cowboys did not run well as a team.
Agoura’s Deena Drossin also struggled. Drossin, coming back from a foot injury, made her season debut in the girls’ team sweepstakes race and finished fifth in 18:56, well off her 17:42 best set at Mt. SAC last year.
Teammate Tiffany York led the Chargers with a fourth-place effort of 18:51.