Camarillo Puts Best Feet Forward to Win State Championship


The Camarillo High boys’ cross-country team is as apt to run for fun as run for championships.

After winning the state Division I title on Saturday in convincing fashion, 39-97, over Concord De La Salle, some team members took lengthy jaunts the next day.

Juniors Scott Stringer and Josh Gerry, Camarillo’s fifth runner at the state meet, took a 21-mile tour of Sycamore Canyon, according to Coach Mike Smith. Junior Shannon Brusca (No. 3) and senior Shawn Goetzinger (No. 4) completed 15 miles in the canyon.

“These guys are more anxious to run now than ever before,” Smith said. “They’re more pumped up than ever. I can’t stop them.”


Stringer, Brusca and Goetzinger also plan to run with their fathers in the San Diego Marathon on Dec. 10 “just to see if they can do it,” Smith said.

The state Division I championship has been long in coming for Camarillo, which placed fourth the past two years.

“We were real happy with a fourth-place finish two years ago even though we came away thinking we could run faster,” Smith said. “Last year’s fourth-place finish was not real exciting. It was a disappointment.”

Disappointing because the Scorpions were ranked No. 1 in the state during the regular season.


Dana Hills, the eventual state champion, stunned Camarillo, 44-48, in the Southern Section 4-A Division preliminaries last year and again in the final, 86-90.

“We hit the wall after the Stanford Invitational,” said Abe Valdez, Camarillo’s top runner this year. “We weren’t even talking to each other (after the state meet last year). As soon as we were done we knew we had lost. Fourth was more of a shock than just losing.”

The Scorpions made sure they won the state title this year.

The three-time Ventura County champions placed all five scorers in the top 24 finishers to account for its score--the lowest cumulative point total in the three-year history of the state meet. Walnut scored 40 points in winning the Division II championship in 1987.

Valdez, a senior, finished fourth in a personal-best 15 minutes, 22 seconds on the three-mile course to lead Camarillo. Senior Derek Kite (15th in 15:45); junior Shannon Brusca (20th, 15:53); senior Shawn Goetzinger (23rd, 15:55); and junior Josh Gerry (24th, 15:55) rounded out the Scorpions’ scoring.

Outside of the numerous congratulatory messages around school--including a victory rally scheduled for Friday--the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce invited the Scorpions to ride in an open motorcade during the city’s Christmas Parade on Dec. 9.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Goetzinger, who knew his team had won the title when he crossed the finish line. “You don’t have to look around you (to see where your teammates are). You have this sixth sense that you’ve won.”

In the girls’ Division I race, Buena (185 points) finished sixth behind three-time winner Palos Verdes (68) and three-time runner-up Agoura (75).


Coach Steve Blum said he was pleased with his team’s effort, but a lack of big-meet experience hampered the Bulldogs.

“One of the things that hurt us was that we had never been to the state meet before and all the teams that beat us had been there before,” he said.

Junior Karen Hinkle (19:18) paced Buena with a 29th-place finish. Jessica Gibbs (19:22) and Megan Ellis (19:23) were the Bulldog’s second and third runners on Saturday, finishing 32nd and 34th. Three of Buena’s top five runners are in their first season of cross-country, according to Blum.

Nordhoff (123) finished fourth in the girls’ Division II meet behind the eighth-place effort of junior Dascha Spellman (18:51). Junior Jennifer Kimpton (19:34) and senior Alice Atkinson (19:39) finished 25th and 26th for the Rangers.