The Huntington Beach High boys' track and field team had one goal entering the 2011 season: win the Sunset League championship.
If they accomplish their goal, the Oilers would be end a 28-year drought. That goal is still within reach, but they will need to come up with a big finish to end the regular season.
In a league tri-meet March 30 at Huntington's Sheue Field, the Oilers downed Los Alamitos, 70-29, and in a key matchup against Fountain Valley that would establish a league front-runner, it was the Barons who emerged from a close matchup, 70-67.
In the girls' tri-meet, Fountain Valley scored a 78-58 win over Huntington and Los Alamitos topped the Oilers, 85-51.
The outcome of the Fountain Valley-Huntington boys' meet came down to the final two events of the day, the 3,200 meters and 4 by 400 relay. The Barons scored nine points in the 3,200 to get the win over the Oilers, who earlier didn't register a point in the long or triple jumps events, Huntington Coach Clim Moore said.
Key performances for the Oilers during the tri-meet included Austin SImpkins, who won the 100 meters (11.16 seconds) and was second in the 200 meters (22.70); Ramon Vargas, who won both the 110 hurdles (14.96) and 300 hurdles (39.69); James Dohleman, who won the high hump (5-feet-8); Jack Rulon set a personal best in the shot put (43-8, second place) and threw 134-11 in the discus (second-place) and Brian Skinner collected key points in the 200 meters (23.14, second) and 400 meters (third).
Despite the close loss to Fountain Valley, Moore said the Oilers are still in contention for a share of their first league title since 1983. They'll need to defeat both Newport Harbor this week and Edison on April 27, plus come up big at the Sunset League finals next month, in order to share the top spot.
"Three years ago, with so many quality athletes, I couldn't see why this group of guys couldn't come together and get a league championship," said Moore, who is in his third year leading the boys' program. "Not that winning a league championship is easy by any means, but I was intrigued by the possibility.
"It's been a three-year project. The first year was about implementing my system and then bring in my coaching staff. We also developed a really great relationship with our football program. We have a really, really good sprinting group and a nice mix of freshmen and sophomores, with our more experienced guys who are providing leadership. It's all about understanding what's in front of us and I keep reminding them about the history of not having won league in 28 years."
Moore said that Vargas qualified and will compete in the 110 hurdles Saturday at the Arcadia Invitational.
In Sunset League action Tuesday, the Edison's boys' team scored a key 97.5-72.5 win over visiting Newport Harbor and the Charger girls scored a 116-53 victory.
The Edison boys' won 11 events and finished first and second in three events. The one-two finishes included: Brent Bazzell (23.09) and Brian Ely (23.35) in the 50-yard freestyle, Michael Hauss (4:50.49) and Tony Morelli (4:56.70) in the 500 free and James Barker (57.85) and Clay Arnold (59.53) in the 100 backstroke.
Josh Smith won the 200 individual medley in a CIF Division 1 automatic qualifying time of 1:58.32 and also won the 100 free (48.10).
"We have a ton of respect for Newport Harbor, especially in the freestyle events, which they seems to always dominate," Edison Coach Diggy Riley said. "Our 1-2-4 finish in the 50 free was a huge boost for our boys. In order to beat a team like Newport, you have to do the little things right, like finishing strong and nailing your starts and turns. We scored huge points in winning both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. Josh Smith had a real good meet for us winning both events. He is looking real strong in the pool.
"Newport will be an entirely different team in a month when we will face them in their pool for the league championship, I can promise you that, but we will be ready for the challenge."
In the girls' meet, Edison's Ellie Morrissey won the 200 individual medley (2:08.88) and 100 butterfly (58.62). Both are automatic CIF Division 1 qualifying times, Riley said. Alli Gillespie also was a double-winner, claiming both the 50 free (25.27) and 200 free (1:57.53).
"It was nice to see some real fast swims for some of our girls, especially in our pool," Riley said. "Ellie (Morrissey) )is really training hard with us and her confidence is building."
Edison travels Tuesday for a 3 p.m. league meet at Los Alamitos.
Huntington Beach ran its record to 8-0 Friday with a 13-6 win over Marina at Westminster High's Boswell Field. Taylor Refice scored three goals and had an assist, Alex Kowalski had three goals, Steven Koressel two goals and two assists, Tim Francis two goals, Jace Gan, Grant Lowman and Carsten Beith all scored and Geoff Lunsk, AJ Schaffner and David Mastro each had an assist.
Goalie Trevor Jackson with five saves and turnovers were forced by Dallas Heyden, Anders Davis and brothers Tyler and Ryan Harchut.
In previous action, Huntington was a 6-3 winner in its league opener March 30 at Newport Harbor. Lunsk and Koressel led the scoring with two goals each and Gan and Francis each had a goal. Defensemen Heyden, Davis and Ryan and Tyler Harchut, held Newport Harbor's offense in check and Jackson had five saves.
Huntington travels to Irvine Friday to face University at 5:30 p.m.