When Edison High School sophomore Shelley Taylor got her first view of Miesha Marzell, Taylor was 80 meters behind her.
Marzell, a freshman from Sparks, Nev., who is considered the nation's best freshman girls' runner, took off from the starting line in the girls' team sweepstakes race at the Mt. SAC Invitational Saturday and took an 80-meter lead over Taylor and Agoura's Deena Drossin in the first half mile.
"At first, I thought she'd die 'cause she doesn't know the course," Taylor said. "Then my coach said 'Catch her.' "
Edison Coach Stan Stauble's words were enough for Taylor.
Taylor, undefeated this season, picked off Marzell at the 2 1/4-mile mark and built a 120-meter lead to win in a personal-best 17:50.3. Marzell (18:44.2) faded to fourth behind Drossin (18:15.2) and Kim Orlando (18:21.2) of Carson City, Nev.
"I'm used to running hard hills in practice and (Marzell) slowed down a lot in the switchbacks," Taylor said. "She lost her stride completely."
While Marzell was trying to maintain a tremendous lead over Taylor, Stauble had complete confidence in his runner.
"(Marzell) didn't know who she had behind her," he said.
Agoura placed five runners in the top 28, including three in the top 10, to win the team sweepstakes title with 72 points. San Diego Mt. Carmel (116) finished second and Ventura Buena (126) was third.
In the boys' sweepstakes race, Saddleback finished fifth behind Camarillo, the No. 1-ranked team in the state, which routed No. 2 Concord De La Salle, 65-117.
The Roadrunners' defeat of Arroyo Grande (sixth, 204), the fourth-ranked team in the state, assured their place in the state rankings.
"It gives the kids a feeling that they belong where they're ranked," Coach Mel Silva said. "Coming in to today, we knew we had a shot at (Arroyo Grande) because a couple of our kids were sick at the Stanford (Invitational)."