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Thom Hunt Closes the Gap With Cross-Country Victory

TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Thom Hunt of Coronado was running for Arizona, he twice won the Aztec Cross-Country Invitational.

That was in the late 1970s, but by then it was old hat. Hunt had won the junior high division in 1972 and the high school division in 1975, the latter coming when he ran for Patrick Henry.

Now, 12 years later, Hunt returned for the 48th Aztec Invitational and ran unattached in the invitational division.

Hunt won, and afterward shook his head at the thought.

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“I won here in 1977 and ’78, so to come back in 1990 . . . There’s a little bit of a gap between wins.”

By race’s end, Hunt had created another gap, this one 13 seconds wide, as he finished the 8,000-meter Morley Field course in 24:13.98 to Brian Grosso’s second-place time of 24:26.37.

Grosso goes to Hunt’s alma mater, as did the third- and fourth-place finishers, Marc Davis (a San Diego High graduate) and Martin Keino, who crossed at 24:55.08 and 25:06.39, respectively. There were two more Arizona runners in the top 12, as the Wildcats finished first as a team with 30 points. Northern Arizona was second with 65 and UC Santa Barbara third with 91.

While it might appear a surprise that a 32-year old upstaged the top NCAA cross-country team, it really wasn’t, at least not according to Hunt and Davis.

In fact, Davis was told that Hunt was going to win--by Hunt.

“He came up for a football game a couple weeks ago and showed up at a workout,” Davis said. “He said he was going to kick our butt--and he was serious.”

While the college runners are just now rounding into shape, Hunt is is near peak condition. The Aztec Invitational was his last hard tune-up for the Twin Cities Marathon in three weeks.

Hunt set a course record, bettering Bo Reed’s 1988 record of 24:44.

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In the men’s open division, Point Loma Nazarene College placed its top five runners among the first 28 finishers and took first as a team. Rick Penman was third (26:25.78), Scott Lardener sixth (26:34.21), Sean O’Hara 10th (26:46.93), Gus Arce 16th (27:05.31), and Jim Michaelien 28th (27:39.30).


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