Oak Park Takes Huge Strides and Upsets Two Area Powers
Oak Park High took a big step toward being more than just a good small school boys’ track and field program with victories over Newbury Park and Ventura in a nonleague meet Thursday at Oak Park.
Oak Park (6-1) has been one of the better Division IV programs in the Southern Section for more than a decade, but the Eagles rose to new heights by coming from behind to defeat two of the top teams in Ventura County at any level.
Oak Park totaled 56 points to defeat two-time defending Marmonte League champion Newbury Park, which had 52 points, and defending Southern Section Division II champion Ventura, which had 51.
“We told the kids this is the step we’ve been trying to get this program to take,” Coach Kevin Smith of Oak Park said. “There is a difference between being a good small school program and a good track program.”
Newbury Park (5-2) was in first place with 49 points after 12 of 15 events, followed by Ventura (3-3) with 41 and Oak Park with 39.
But the Eagles placed second, third and fourth in the 200 meters and first, third and fourth in the 3,200 to take a 53-52 lead over Newbury Park with the 1,600-meter relay remaining.
Clark Goodwin’s 48.1 anchor leg gave Ventura a 3:28.3-3:28.4 victory over Oak Park in the 1,600 relay, but the three points the Eagles got for finishing second clinched the victory.
“It’s very big,” junior Mark Nevers said after winning the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 for Oak Park. “We’ve been thinking about this meet all week in practice and to come in here and beat two good programs means a lot.”
Nevers, who ran a career best of 9:22.3 in the 3,200 to finish second in the Meet of Champions Distance Carnival at Azusa Pacific last Saturday, clocked 2:03.82 in the 800, 4:40.0 in the 1,600 and 10:08.0 in the 3,200.
The Eagles’ other victories came from senior Chris Adams, who clocked 42.79 in the 300 intermediate hurdles, and the 400 relay team that ran 44.24.
Oak Park scored points in every running event and only four of its 56 points came in field events.
The Eagles scored 19 of a possible 33 points in the distance events.
Oak Park’s victory overshadowed fine performances by Goodwin and Will Svitek of Newbury Park.
Goodwin, defending Southern Section Division II champion in the 400, anchored Ventura to a second-place time of 44.39 in the 400 relay, and won the 100 in 11.34 and the 200 in 22.69 before making up 30 yards on the anchor leg of the 1,600 relay.
Svitek, defending Southern Section Division II champion in the shotput, won that event in 55-6, the discus in 157-6, the long jump in 20-9 1/2 and the 110 high hurdles in 16.14.
Oak Park (6-1) won the girls’ meet with a total of 65 1/2 points, followed by Ventura (4-2) with 58 1/2 and Newbury Park (2-5) with 35.
The Eagles had three individual winners. Freshman Laura Mendenhall clocked 51.10 in the 300 low hurdles, junior Christine St. John leaped 15-6 in the long jump and senior Julia Bowman put the shot 31-10 1/2.
The meet had a scary moment when Seth Cormier of Newbury Park was hit in the side by a shotput during warmups for the freshman-sophomore competition in that event.
Cormier, a freshman, was bending over to pick up his shot after a warm-up throw when he was hit.
He was expected to spend the night in the intensive care unit at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks after tests showed he has a bruised kidney.