Title Runs for Thousand Oaks, Nordhoff, Skieresz : State boys' cross-country: Lancers race to Division I championship in record time. Rangers take Division III.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

So what's left for the Thousand Oaks High boys' cross-country team to win?

How about the mythical national championship?

The Lancers, who romped Saturday to their first Division I title in the state championships, have done everything else this season.

Powered by the 3-4-5 finish of Jeff Fischer, Brandon Del Campo and Kevin Marsden, Thousand Oaks placed five runners among the top 18 finishers to post a minuscule 23-point total.

Santa Ana finished second with 88 points, followed by Madera (96), San Jose Bellarmine (99), Peninsula (166) and Palmdale (175).

The Lancers' point total is the lowest since the state meet began in 1987 and their team time--cumulative time of the top five runners--of 77 minutes 59 seconds over the 5,000-meter course at Woodward Park smashed the previous best of 78:23 set by Arroyo in 1987.

"We wanted to set the team time record," said Fischer, a junior. "That was the goal we came up with for ourselves. As far as myself, I just wanted to do my best to finish in the top five."

Fischer ran a conservative race early--he was no better than 20th at the mile mark--before moving to second at two miles (9:52) and then holding on for third in 15:26.

"I was definitely running hard at two miles," said Fischer, who finished eighth a year ago as a sophomore. "No doubt I was tired. But I just wanted to push myself as long as I could to stay with (Orange's Jaime) Martinez. I kind of used him as a means of staying ahead of everyone else."

Although Martinez (15:18) pulled away to finish second behind Mebrahtom Keflezighi (15:02) of San Diego High, Fischer led a Thousand Oaks sweep of the next three places. Southern Section champion Del Campo finished fourth in 15:30 with Marsden being credited with the same time.

Chadd Aldrich (14th in 15:40) and junior Keith O'Doherty (18th in 15:53) rounded out the Lancers' top five as Thousand Oaks finished the race with a flurry.

Marsden moved up 11 places in the last mile while Aldrich picked up four spots and O'Doherty improved by six.

"It feels good to finally run a race like this," Fischer said of his performance. "After last year, it was very frustrating to see guys like (Del Campo), (Hart's Brett) Strahan and (Palmdale's Antonio) Arce so far ahead of me this season."

Arce finished eighth (15:35) Saturday, but Strahan faded from fifth to 21st in the last mile as he stumbled across the finish line with a time of 15:55 before collapsing.

Hart Coach Larry David wasn't sure why Strahan's legs turned to lead in the last 200 yards and Strahan had no recollection of the race's final 400 yards.

"He had a little sinus infection earlier in the week, but it was nothing major," David said. "He said he felt fine before the race."

The Nordhoff boys were feeling great after their race, having won the Division III title with a 92-point total after finishing fourth in the Southern Section finals.

Paced by Javier Ramirez's third-place effort (15:38), the Rangers turned back San Diego Scripps Ranch (119), top-ranked Palo Alto Gunn (127) and No. 2-ranked San Diego St. Augustine (130).

"We were missing our Nos. 4 and 5 runners last week," Nordhoff Coach Ken Reeves said. "But to be honest, except for (Ramirez), most of our guys ran (poorly). . . . But I think that took some pressure off us. No one expected much of us, but our goal was to win."

The victory was the second in the last three years for Nordhoff, which won the 1991 Division IV title and finished second last year before moving up a level this season.

Camarillo junior Eleazar Hernandez stamped himself as one of the early favorites for next year's state meet by finishing third (15:27) in the Division II race.

Hernandez, who placed fourth in the Marmonte League finals, was the only non-senior among the top five finishers.

Agoura junior John Greene finished sixth in 15:38 to lead the Chargers to a fifth-place total of 162 points.

Sacramento Jesuit, led by winner Matt Farley, edged defending champion Mission Bay, 70-71, for the team title.

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