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Sea King Girl Harriers Head for Elite Meet

The road goes on for the Palos Verdes girls cross-country team. And up to this point, it has been paved with glory.

Last weekend the Sea Kings captured their second consecutive Division I state title with a victory at Fresno’s Woodward Park that saw them outdistance their closest competitor, Agoura, 65-108. The weekend before, Palos Verdes won its fourth consecutive CIF title at Mt. San Antonio College.

Saturday the Sea Kings travel again to Fresno, this time to compete in the 10th Kinney Cross Country Western Regional, a meeting of elite runners from 12 Western states. The top eight finishers from the regionals meet the following weekend in San Diego in the national championships.

Representing the girls team Saturday are seniors Ashley Black and Traci Goodrich, sophomores Karen Zareski and Joanna Della Gatta and freshman Maya Muneno. Sean Yoder will represent the Palos Verdes boys team, and Gary Stoltz of Miraleste is also entered.

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Coach Joe Kelly, beneficiary of all these fine finishes, says the pressure is off the Sea Kings and the regionals are a forum for enjoyment rather than a litmus test for how the team rates against Western competition.

“At this point the team is running strictly on automatic pilot, and I look at this as kind of a fun meet,” he said. “Right now we’d just like to sit back and enjoy what we’ve accomplished, but we’ve committed to running Saturday so they’re going to go for it.”

Kelly says he has mixed feelings about the end of the season, which is really the end of an era for the seniors who have run on four straight CIF championship teams.

“I’m relieved because it felt like I was putting my finger in the dyke all year because of injuries,” he said. “But at the same time there’s a little sadness because our senior girls won’t be running with us again.

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“I kind of have mixed emotions about it, but I am absolutely stoked with the way the girls kept their focus on our goals the whole year. I’m still sort of in dreamland.”

The girls race will be somewhat intriguing with Black, a national finalist in 1987, again running against defending national champion Kira Jorgensen of Rancho Buena Vista, who won the state championship last weekend. Three other 1987 finalists--Deena Drossin of Agoura, Montebello’s Rayna Cervantes and Nicole Robbins of Hesperia--are also entered in Saturday’s race.

Last Saturday, Jorgensen finished at the top in 17:42, Cervantes was second at 17:50, Drossin third at 17:55 and Black was fourth, covering the course in 18:03.

The boys race is more wide open with Arizona’s Christopher Schurz and Chris Lewis from Washington the only returning national finalists from 1987.

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The runners will compete on Woodward Park’s 5,000-meter course.

Kelly said he is looking forward to the down time that the end of the cross-country season affords him. But, even though officially he cannot have contact with his runners now, he will be in Fresno Saturday for moral support. Eventually he hopes he and the team can settle down and let all the accomplishments and honors speak for themselves.


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