Although cross-country has been a top program at El Camino College for more than a decade, the women's team, winner of the 1990 state championship, has overshadowed the men's squad in recent seasons.
That has changed this year. The women's team is struggling, but the men have a good chance of winning their first state title since 1984.
Although the men's team placed third in the 1990 and '91 state meets, this year's team appears to be even stronger. The Warriors have won two big meets--the Mira Costa Invitational on Sept. 18 and the South Coast Conference Invitational on Sept. 25--and have improved in every meet.
"This is definitely one of the stronger men's teams we've had," Coach Dean Lofgren said. "We have definite potential to win a state title."
The Warriors are led by sophomores Steve Gonzales, Israel Pose, Joe Reinisch and Julio Moreno. Pose, a Torrance High grad, led the Warriors at the Mira Costa Invitational with a third-place finish and Reinisch, a Bishop Montgomery grad, placed fourth. Gonzales, from Carson High, finished fifth at the meet, which was held in Oceanside.
At the conference meet at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Warrior runners finished 1-2-3. Gonzales won the event in 20 minutes 46 seconds, Pose finished second at 21:04 and Reinisch was third at 21:10. Moreno, a Venice High grad, finished seventh.
Moreno ran cross-country for the Warriors in 1990, but took a redshirt last year after suffering a stress fracture in his leg. He returned in time for track season and placed fourth in the 1,500 meters at the state meet.
Lofgren believes the addition of Moreno is only part of the reason for the Warriors' success. Gonzales, Pose and Reinisch have had the biggest impact, according to Lofgren.
"The attitude on the part of all three is much better . . . I think it was more or less them looking at themselves and seeing that they had a job ahead of them and realizing their potential," Lofgren said.
The Warriors will compete today at the Irvine Invitational, which will feature several of the state's best teams. The state meet is Nov. 13 at Mt. San Antonio.
The women's team is led by sophomore Liz Sutton, whose most notable finish was fourth in the 400-meter hurdles at last year's state track meet.
"She's come along dramatically," Lofgren said. "She moved up to the front and made a big step. She had a good summer and has progressed gradually."
Sutton, who was fourth in the 400 meters at the junior national track and field championships at Ohio State in July, is a graduate of Hisperia High. One of the reasons she chose to attend El Camino is that her aunt, Nancy Mustard, lives in Torrance. Mustard, who recently turned 50, is also Sutton's training partner and teammate on the Warriors' cross-country team.
Mustard is an avid runner who has finished more than 20 marathons. At 44, she finished the Palos Verdes marathon in 3 hours, 12 minutes.
A groin injury has prevented her from competing in cross-country meets this season, but Lofgren expects Mustard, a public relations officer at Los Angeles International Airport, to help the Warriors soon.
"She can easily be part of our top five," Lofgren said. "Right now she trains with the team and as soon as her body allows her to compete she will. She can be very good."
Lofgren says coaching an athlete such as Mustard is a lot easier than dealing with some of the younger runners.
"It's a pleasure," he said. "She's very easygoing and extremely positive. She knows what needs to be done in the area of training to improve and reach her potential."
Although the Southwest football team is winless, it has not been for a lack of effort on the part of Anthony Haddrick.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound sophomore starts on the defensive line and had four unassisted tackles and three sacks in Saturday's 24-20 loss to Moorpark.
He also leads the Western State Conference in punting with an average of 47.9 yards a kick. He averaged 49.4 yards a punt against Moorpark.
Senior forward Gerardo Yepez ranks fourth on Cal State Dominguez Hills' all-time soccer scoring list with 44 career goals in only 1 1/2 seasons. Yepez, a graduate of Hawthorne High, played two years at El Camino before transferring to Dominguez Hills. . . . Loyola Marymount setter Robin Ortgiesen was named West Coast Conference player of the week. The sophomore from Mira Costa High averaged 13 assists a game in helping the Lions to three victories. Ortgiesen ranks ninth nationally in assists.
Junior Deanna Doolittle became Loyola's all-time dig leader last week. Her 1,142 digs broke Leslie Wohlford's four-year career record of 1,129. . . . El Camino defensive backs Brian Malinofsky (West Torrance) and Demetrius Boykins (Gardena) and wide receiver Latario Rachal (Carson) were named Mission Conference players of the week. Malinofsky forced a fumble, had 17 tackles and two sacks against Saddleback. Boykins had 12 tackles. Rachal caught two passes for 85 yards and returned five punts for 79 yards.