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The Daily News of Los Angeles


Former UCLA All-America distance runner Steve Ortiz, a longtime high school track, cross country and swimming coach, has been sentenced to a year in state prison after pleading no contest to two counts of lewd acts with a minor, according to documents obtained by the Southern California News Group.

The 59-year-old's plea to two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with an individual age 14 or 15 as part of an agreement in which three counts of sodomy with a person under 18 and a charge of selling or providing liquor to a minor were dismissed. Ortiz will also be entered into the state sex offender registry.

He was transported to the California Institution for Men in Chino this week, according to court records.

Ortiz was arrested in Victorville in May after an investigation into a report of a missing boy April 25. The boy was found and told police that Ortiz picked him up while he was walking in Victorville.

Ortiz, who most recently served as the track and cross country coach at Granite Hills High School in Apple Valley, was banned for life by USA Swimming on May 23. There is no record of USA Track & Field or the U.S. Center for SafeSport taking any disciplinary action against him.

Ortiz, running for legendary UCLA distance coach Bob Larsen, was one of the top U.S. distance runners in the early 1980s.

Ortiz won a CIF-Southern Section cross country title for Barstow's Kennedy High before enrolling at Grossmont College. He followed Larsen from Grossmont to UCLA, where he set school records at 5,000 and 10,000 meters in 1982. Those records stood for 16 years until another Larsen prodigy, Meb Keflezighi, the future Boston and New York City marathons winner, broke them. Ortiz still ranks second on UCLA's all-time list in both events. He remains the school record-holder at 2 miles.

Ortiz was the first American finisher at the 1982 NCAA Championships in the 10,000, finishing sixth behind five East African runners. That month he nearly upset two-time world cross country champion Craig Virgin in the 10,000 at the U.S. Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, only losing in the final meters, 28 minutes, 33.02 seconds to 28:33.58.

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June 24, 2018


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