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Scorpions on mission for more league titles

Girls are having a morning race.
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© Michael Coons/Acorn Newspapers
The Camarillo High girls’ cross country team is gunning for an eighth straight league title. © Michael Coons/Acorn Newspapers
Camarillo High cross country has had a stranglehold on the Pacific View League for more than a decade.

The Scorpions are dominating again.

Head coach Mike Smith and the Scorpion boys want to return to the state meet.

Girls’ head coach Mary Perez and her squad will scrap for an eighth straight league title.

The Scorpions will try to defend their league championships at Pacific View finals Nov. 1 at Oxnard College.

Here’s a closer look at both teams:

GIRLS

The Camarillo girls’ cross country team is happy-go-lucky.

Between races, the girls laugh and smile. Once the start gun goes off, the athletes get serious.

The Scorpions are confident they can win an eighth straight league crown.

“We’re going to smoke the competition,” sophomore Sarah Nagel said.

ACHS keeps an upbeat attitude during practices and meets by repeating the phrase, “When we run out of breath, we run with our hearts.”

“Everyone says that, but we’ll pretend it’s original,” said sophomore Haley Nagel, Sarah’s twin sister.

The tight-knit group pair up with a secret buddy and exchange motivational gifts before every meet.

The gifts include inspirational letters and bottles of Gatorade.

“We’re a close team because we do activities that help us bond,” senior Marie-Pierre Kippen said.

“Having the secret buddy and going to each other’s house for pasta is something every team should do.”

Senior co-captain and No. 1 runner Kathleen Dunne is an experienced leader.

Dunne, who finished the Sept. 15 Woodbridge Invitational in a personal-best 18 minutes, 11 seconds, is a favorite to win a league individual title.

“She’s not a real loud, verbal person,” said eighth-year head coach Perez. “She works very hard and the rest of the girls pattern her work ethic.”

Senior Yliana Ortega is the other co-captain.

Ortega said the team trains six days a week, including trail workouts on Saturdays starting at 6:30 a.m.

Junior Danika Cline, who transferred from Newbury Park after her freshman year, provides levity.

“Hills stoop our times,” said Cline jokingly. “They make everything worse.”

Camarillo doesn’t enjoy running on hills, but the girls often train on mountain trails around Camarillo and Simi Valley.

Ortega, Cline and Kippen all run around the 20-minute mark for most three-mile races.

Not only do the Nagel twins have a high endurance for running, they also compete for the ACHS swim team.

Sophomores Meghan O’Connell and Marin Lockwood round out the varsity starting lineup.

The Pacific View finals should be a breeze for the Scorpions, but they’re looking at the bigger picture.

Camarillo wants to reach the CIF finals after getting eliminated in the CIF preliminaries last fall.

BOYS

Camarillo’s boys aren’t silly like the girls.

They don’t exchange motivational gifts. They’re too macho for that.

“I didn’t even know (the girls) did that,” junior Ricky Ochsner said.

“That would be weird if we did that.”

The Scorpions have won 12 out of the past 14 Pacific View League titles. They expect to cruise by the competition again.

Joel Gonzalez, currently Camarillo’s top runner, and teammate Esteban Vega are the frontrunners to win the individual league crown.

Gonzalez ran a personal-best 15:15 at the Woodbridge Invitational.

Vega, who endured nagging injuries last year, continues to improve. He’s about 12 seconds behind Gonzalez at the end of most races, according to head coach Smith.

Smith said Vega is in excellent physical shape after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot.

“I really want to win (league),” said Gonzalez, a senior.

“The field has no competition. It’s going to come down to me and Esteban Vega.”

Gonzalez said he’s received interest from multiple colleges, but he hasn’t decided where he will run next year.

Gonzalez also plays soccer at Camarillo.

Ochsner, who consistently runs under 17 minutes, enjoys surfing.

Trevor Stangle, a junior, can run in the low 16-minute mark and was the No. 3 runner before hurting his knee.

Stangle took three weeks off and is running at the junior varsity level to get back in shape.

Senior Lucas Giles ran 16:20 at Woodbridge. Giles is a fan of the outdoors. He hikes and rock climbs often.

Javier Barajas, a sophomore, is capable of running under 16 minutes.

Barajas, who received straight A’s last year, has been running cross country and track since seventh grade.

Junior Michael Gutierrez plays the guitar during meets to liven up the mood.

Gutierrez often runs under 17 minutes.

Cole Triebold, a senior, does it all. Triebold runs six days a week and plays basketball in the winter while maintaining a 4.6 grade-point average.

Senior Zach Gomez rounds out the Scorpions’ varsity roster.

The Camarillo boys have advanced to the state meet for two straight seasons.

“This is a close group of guys,” Smith said.

“They always push each other and want to get better. I’m very happy with their work ethic.”

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