Nordhoff Teams Up and Speeds to Title : Cross-country: Boys win third consecutive state championship while surprising girls upset Clayton Valley.
It was not the first time that the Nordhoff High boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams have won state titles.
Nor was it the first time that the Rangers swept the boys’ and girls’ titles in the same year. In 1991, Nordhoff swept the Division IV state titles.
But for sheer speed and surprise, Saturday’s State championships at Woodward Park established a new level of performance.
The Ranger boys, paced by third-place Will Bernaldo, won an unprecedented third consecutive Division III title with a 35-110 victory over second-place Livermore. The girls, led by individual champion Elaine Canchola, upset defending champion Concord Clayton Valley, 42-53.
It was a good day for area teams as the Canyon and Louisville girls won their first Division I and Division IV titles.
Senior Kim Mortensen of Thousand Oaks had the second-fastest time (17 minutes 25 seconds) of the meet in the Division I race, but finished 40 seconds behind Santa Rosa’s Julia Stamps, who tied her course mark of 16:45.
“The boys ran pretty dang good,” Nordhoff Coach Ken Reeves said of his charges. “But the girls . . . the girls were awesome.”
Clayton Valley, the No. 4-ranked girls’ team in the nation by Harrier magazine, was heavily favored, but Nordhoff placed five runners among the top 22 finishers to post a cumulative team time of 93:57, the fourth-fastest ever at Woodward Park.
“The girls really thought they were going to win,” Reeves said. “They started talking about this on the drive home from last year’s meet.
“They asked me if they had five girls under [19:30 on this course] if they would win. I told them they’d have a very good chance.”
A strong final mile was the key to Nordhoff’s victory.
Based on their places at two miles, the Rangers trailed Clayton Valley by five points, but they made up ground after that. Sophomore Canchola extended her lead to finish in 17:36 while juniors Terrah Chapin (18:48) and Bridie Hatch (18:55) moved from seventh and 10th to sixth and ninth.
Sophomore Laurel Westbrook (19:13) and senior Beth Zacher (19:25) made the biggest moves as they improved from 20th to 17th and from 27th to 22nd.
“They were instructed to really work the back side of the course,” Reeves said. “But that’s easy to say. It’s the kids who have to do it.”
Nordhoff was expected to receive a stiff challenge from Livermore in the Division III boys’ race, but when defending champion Micheil Jones of Livermore collapsed with 150 meters left and failed to finish, the Rangers won in a runaway.
Bernaldo, the Southern Section champion, led the charge with a 15:45 clocking in third.
Fellow senior Omar Vega finished fifth in 15:50, followed by sophomores Dusty Herman (16:02) and Victor Ochoa (16:13) in eighth and 11th, and senior Mason Moore in 16th (16:20).
It was the fourth state title in the past five years for Nordhoff, which had the second-fastest team time (80:10) of the meet behind Division II champion Carmichael Jesuit (79:38).
Like the Nordhoff boys, the Canyon and Louisville girls posted runaway victories in their races.
Canyon, paced by 10th-place Julie Harris, defeated second-place Los Alamitos, 82-125. Louisville, led by individual champion Shaluinn Fullove, posted a 58-91 victory over runner-up San Francisco University.
Harris, a junior, and freshman teammate Lauren Fleshman (13th) each picked up eight places in the final mile to time 18:54 and 19:06.
Seniors Kellie Stigile (19:33) and Danielle Hadfield (19:56), and sophomore Brandi Plasschaert (20:15) rounded out Canyon’s scoring in 26th, 39th and 52nd.
“We talked about moving hard in the last mile,” Canyon Coach Dave DeLong said. “And once again, they did a good job of that.”
Louisville got out well in the Division IV race and was not seriously challenged.
Fullove, fifth in last year’s State championships as a junior, broke the race open at the halfway point on her way to an 18:39 clocking.
Senior Ashley Caro (16th in 19:45), sophomore Kelly Harrington (17th in 19:45), freshman Jenny Villar (24th in 20:11) and sophomore Erin Spaulding (30th in 20:24) rounded out the Royals’ scoring.
In the Division I boys’ race, Thousand Oaks senior Todd Disney placed third in 15:47.
Hoover, paced by eighth-place Felipe Montoro (15:55), finished fourth with 133 points behind Fair Oaks Del Campo, which won its first title with 84 points.
In the Division I girls’ race, Highland junior Andrea Neipp finished third in 18:12.