Trafeh's Feat Bears Repeating

Times Staff Writer

If Mohamed Trafeh of Duarte High put forth only a 70% effort -- as he said -- while winning his second consecutive boys' Division IV title at the state cross-country championships Saturday at Woodward Park, how fast can he run when he goes all-out?

That question could be answered Dec. 12 when Trafeh is expected to be among a field of 32 in the national championships at Morley Field in San Diego.

Trafeh must place among the top eight finishers in the West regional championships at Mt. San Antonio College on Saturday to qualify for the national meet, but it is difficult to imagine his finishing out of the top eight for several reasons.

Among the most compelling:

*The Morocco native placed seventh in the national championships last year.

*He tied the course record over Mt. San Antonio College's 2.91-mile layout in winning the Division IV title at the Southern Section championships Nov. 22, despite fasting from sunrise to sunset in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

*He appeared to run well within himself Saturday in defeating second-place Alex Dunn of Felton San Lorenzo Valley during a meet run in cool, overcast conditions.

Trafeh's time of 15 minutes 16 seconds over the 5,000-meter course was the fifth-fastest of the meet. The ease with which he accomplished his victory, however, was impressive.

Dunn, a senior who won the state Division III title last year, and junior John Figueiredo of Arcata were both nipping at Trafeh's heels as he came through the first mile in 4:47

Trafeh, however, opened a 20-yard lead on Dunn and a 25-yard lead on Figueiredo with a hard surge up one hill and down another in the next 130 yards.

"I wanted to make my move at the mile mark so I didn't have to worry later," Trafeh said. "So I surged and I didn't have to worry."

Trafeh had a 13-second lead over Dunn when he came through the two-mile mark in 9:46 -- the fastest split of the meet for that point on the course -- but he backed off the pace after that.

"I trained hard this week so I didn't want to push it too much," he said. "I felt if I had really wanted to, I could have run under 14:50 today."

Trafeh, who signed a letter of intent with Arizona this month, was one of four boys from the Southern Section to win individual titles in the meet.

Los Angeles Loyola junior Mark Matusak, who defeated Trafeh to win the individual sweepstakes race at the Mt. SAC Invitational on Oct. 25, had the fastest time of the meet at 15:08 in the Division II race.

Senior Daniel Nunn of San Luis Obispo won the Division III title in 15:15 while leading his team to an upset victory, and senior Tony Arredondo of Oxnard Santa Clara won the Division V race in 15:33.

In team competition, Chino Don Lugo won the Division I boys' title, with Bellflower St. John Bosco winning Division II and Pasadena Maranatha taking Division V.

Don Lugo, the No. 9-ranked team in the nation according to Harrier magazine, had four runners among the top 20 finishers and posted a 56-108 victory over runner-up Simi Valley Royal, ranked No. 23 nationally.

Senior Nathan Wolack, Don Lugo's No. 5 finisher in the Southern Section championships with a 31st-place effort, placed ninth in 15:44 after moving up more than 40 places in the last two miles.

"I knew a lot of guys would start out fast," Wolack said.

"Everyone wants to be near the front so I just knew that a lot of them would come back to me if I paced myself."

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