James Shipe is a little less aggressive this season, but it hasn’t stopped him from getting off to a fast start.Shipe, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound senior captain for the Morro Bay High boys cross country team, won the 2.8-mile course at the Bell-Jeff Invitational on Saturday with a time of 15 minutes, nine seconds, leading the Pirates to the team title in the process.
Morro Bay, the defending Los Padres League champion, was ranked No. 2 in Monday’s CIF-Southern Section Division IV poll, trailing only Laguna Beach.
“He’s always been an aggressive runner,” Pirates coach Cary Nerelli said. “Part of our training has been aimed at making him a little less aggressive at the get-go. We’ve had to temper that a little bit.”
Still, though, the adjustment has only gone so far, as Shipe feels his openings have always been his strength, and will continue to be.
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“Some people like to (conserve energy and) wait for their kick and pass everyone (at the end of a race),” Shipe said. “I’ve never been much of a fan of that. I like to go from the beginning and run my heart out. That separates me from a lot of people.
“(But) I won’t necessarily go all-out at the beginning like the last few years,” Shipe continued. “I’m a little more intelligent. I’m a little more patient, I guess, but I still like to get out and go.”
At the Ojai Invitational in Lake Casitas on Sept. 19, Shipe won the small-school 3-mile race in 16:06 — a 20-second improvement upon his time at the same course last year. A week earlier, at the Morro Bay Invitational, he finished second on a 2.6-mile layout, in 15:02.
“His largest improvement has been in his mental focus,” Nerelli said. “He’s running with much more race intelligence this year. He’s more patient, and is running with great confidence, and that’s translating into better results.”
Shipe, who began racing in the fourth grade and honed his abilities in middle school with the San Luis Distance Club Roo Rats, earned all-division first-team honors last year.
A number of NCAA Division I programs have inquired about Shipe, including Arizona State, Cal Poly, San Francisco and Pepperdine, Nerelli said. Cal and Claremont-McKenna College are also in the picture, Shipe said, although he’s still undecided.
OTHER CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION RANKINGSGirls cross countryMorro Bay fell from second to eighth in Division IV after placing sixth at the Bell-Jeff Invitational. Atascadero, which came in second at the Righetti Invitational, dropped a spot to ninth in the Division III poll.
Boys water poloThanks in large part to a team-best four goals from Kevin Meffert, Arroyo Grande (4-3) routed Cabrillo 16-8 on Thursday and entered the Division IV Top 10, checking in at No. 8. The Eagles will visit No. 6 Righetti at 4:30 p.m. today.
FootballAtascadero (3-1), which compiled 381 rushing yards during a 35-21 win over Redwood of Visalia, stayed at No. 7 in the Northern Division. Following a 65-14 drubbing of Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande (3-1) made its first appearance in the poll this year, moving to No. 10.
Morro Bay (3-0), which topped PAC 7 foe San Luis Obispo 34-10, elevated from No. 6 to No. 5 in the Northwest Division, while Templeton (3-0), which crushed King City 47-0, rose from 10th to 9th. Including Morro Bay and Templeton, the LPL has five teams represented in the Northwest poll. St. Joseph is slotted third, followed by fourth-place Pioneer Valley, while Nipomo appeared in the “others receiving votes” category.