By DEWEY FORGET
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

For a boys' cross country team as talented as Petaluma, the Sonoma County
League championships ran Wednesday over the 3.05-mile Spring Lake course,
was little more than a tune up for what could be a history-making season.
As expected, the Trojans, who captured the title last year with a perfect
score (15), did it again this season, to easily defeat second-place Analy
(83), with Casa Grande (95) third, and Sonoma (101) fourth.

Sterling Lockert, who ran the fifth fastest time ever (15:13) at Spring
Lake last year, won the SCL individual first-place medal in 15:30. His twin
brother Devon (15:41) was second and teammate Brandon Felipe was a strong
third in 15:48.
The first seven finishers were Trojans. Cole Yungert (15:51) was fourth,
followed by Hugh Dowdey, Bjorn Griepenburg, and Cody Jinright.
"I can't tell you how ecstatic I am going one through seven, with seven
runners only 45 seconds apart," said Petaluma coach Jim Lynch. "We are
coming together at the right time, the team is confident.
"The way the team ran today, I would match them up against anyone. "It's
been our goal to peak in the last three weeks for NCS and state, that's the
prize we're looking for."
With the SCL title tucked away, the Trojans begin a two-week period that
could finish off, arguably, the best cross-country season in the school's
history. The Trojans are the defending North Coast Section Division II
champs, and are ranked No. 1 overall in Northern California. Only Loyola of
Los Angeles and Newport Harbor are ranked higher in the state.
Next up is the section meet, a week from Saturday at Hayward High. The
Trojans are a prohibitive favorite to run away with the Div. II title. The
following weekend the Trojans travel to Fresno for the state meet.
"We are basically expecting to win the NCS," Felipe said. "We hope to be 
on the podium in Fresno, and bring home a pennant."
Petaluma's chances for a state title were enhanced recently when Ventura,
one of the favorites for a state gold medal, moved up to Div. I.

Petaluma took most of the mystery out of the race from the opening gun. As
the runners sprinted across the meadow opposite the boat dock, five
Petaluma runners were jostling for position. Sterling Lockert emerged with
the lead. After one mile he still led, with Devon second, some 50 yards
back.
Sterling Lockert pulled away on the run up the hill by the dam, and then
finished with his patented strong kick for an impressive win. The junior
looked relaxed the entire race.
"Running with a team like this, there's no pressure," Sterling said. "If 
I get beat, it will be my brother than wins. But, it's really a team thing,
that's what we focus on."

In the much-anticipated girls match up between Healdsburg's Sarah Sumpter
and Casa Grande's sophomore Jacque Taylor, it was Sumpter's day to shine.
Sumpter was leading Taylor by less than 20 yards through the first mile 
perhaps the easiest part of the course  then extended her lead to win
comfortably in 16:51, 44 seconds ahead of Taylor, who ran 17:35. Casa
Grande's Dominque Ratto was a distant third in 18:57, while Kelly Lucchesi
(19:16) of Petaluma was fourth. Casa Grande won the team title.