There is no doubt about who had the best boys' cross-country team in the Marmonte League this season after the league finals were held at College Park on Friday.
But Newbury Park, and not victorious Thousand Oaks, will go down in the record books as the league champion because the Lancers had to forfeit five earlier dual-meet victories for using an ineligible runner.
Thousand Oaks edged Newbury Park, 53-58, on Friday to secure a spot in the Southern Section preliminaries at Mt. San Antonio College on Nov. 16, but the Lancers tied for third with Channel Islands when their 2-5 dual-meet record was factored in. Newbury Park and Camarillo finished first and second in the overall standings.
The finals account for 50% of the league title and dual-meet finishes account for the other 50%.
School administrators told Coach Jack Farrell not to identify the ineligible runnerbut senior John Haskell, a transfer from L.A. Baptist, was obviously the guy.
Haskell had been the Lancers' top runner for most of the season and led them to the Ventura County title at Lake Casitas on Nov. 1 but did not run Friday.
A source close to the Thousand Oaks team said that Haskell had not moved into the school's attendance district, in conjunction with his transfer, because of extenuating circumstances. California Interscholastic Federation rules state that a student must make a "bona-fide change of residence from one school attendance area to the attendance area of the new school," to be eligible.
Farrell called it a "technical infraction of a rule that no one intended to break."
With Haskell out of the meet, Thousand Oaks was regarded as an underdog to Newbury Park, which had won the league final last year.
But the Lancers' remaining runners picked up the slack, led by fourth-place Danny Kilgore and fifth-place John Barbachano.
"I'm extremely proud of the way they ran," Farrell said. "They showed a lot of character."
Newbury Park was paced by Ross Wood, who finished second behind Chris Ramirez of Royal.
Ramirez led the race from start to finish to become the first Royal runner to win the Marmonte League boys' title since Scott Blackburn won consecutive championships in 1973 and 1974. But Ramirez ran scared.
"I was afraid of Ross because I knew he was back there and I knew he had a good kick," Ramirez said. "I just tried to get away from him so it wouldn't come down to a kick."
It didn't as Ramirez clocked 15 minutes 33 seconds over the three-mile course with Wood at 15:41.
Ryan Meuse of Simi Valley closed well over the last mile to finish third in 15:44 with Kilgore and Barbachano at 15:48 and 15:55.
In the girls' meet, individual winner Amanda Armstrong led Thousand Oaks to a runaway victory.
Armstrong, a sophomore, clocked 18:18 as the Lancers took three of the top six places and five of the top 13 to total 34 points.
Simi Valley was second with 84 points, followed by Westlake with 86.
Senior Joie Pompilio of Westlake ran 18:57 to place second for the second consecutive year after suffering a severe knee injury during her junior soccer season.
Nicholle Reinhardt of Camarillo was third in 19:01 while Melissa McBain (19:07) and Rachel Deonier (19:08) finished fourth and sixth for Thousand Oaks, which won its third consecutive league title.