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Notebook : You're Never Too Old to Be a Winner: Runner, 54, Is Conquering Continent

September 26, 1985|ALAN DROOZ

Bob Holtel, West Torrance High School physical education teacher, is one guy who belies the adage that "those who can't do, teach."

Holtel, 54, a former cross-country coach at West High, recently completed a summer-long run along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican border to Donner Pass north of Lake Tahoe. It is part of a three-year plan by Holtel to run the Crest Trail from Mexico to the Canadian border.

Holtel, a veteran ultramarathoner, hopes to continue next summer to the Columbia Pass and from there to the Canadian border in 1987. He says the coast has been run but nobody has run the Crest Trail before.

The reason: The trail begins in desert, then goes into the High Sierra. On his recent run, which covered 1,055 miles, Holtel went through the Anza Borrego Desert, then tackled the Mojave Desert before getting into the higher altitude. Once in the Sierra, Holtel said, he went through six passes higher than 12,000 feet.

Holtel has been running most of his life and expanding his boundaries since he captained the cross-country team at UC Santa Barbara and ran for the Army. While a coach at West High, he said, he ran every workout with the team. He ran his first marathon--in Palos Verdes--at age 40 and has since completed 102 marathons and five 100-mile races. "I've been a runner 38 years and have run 118,000 miles in my life," he said.

Holtel got the idea of running the Pacific Crest while backpacking in the Sierra. He thought the scenery of Crest Trail would be preferable to the traffic of the Coast Highway. He started July 10 at Campo on the Mexican border and averaged 24 miles a day, reaching Donner Pass on Sept. 5.

Along the way he was accompanied by 36 friends who paced him and provided fluids. Holtel ran with a pack but did not carry a sleeping bag and ate only prepared food, not doing any cooking. He never wanted for company. "Along the way I saw seven rattlesnakes, a bear, a bobcat and about 200 deer," he said.

Why is he doing the run now? "I wanted to do it while I'm healthy."

Halfway through the '80s, Miraleste High has the best record of any football team in the Desert-Mountain Conference, and four other South Bay schools rank in their CIF conference Top 10s.

Miraleste, under Gary Kimbrell, is 38-21, a .644 percentage, to top its conference. West Torrance, fifth in the Coastal Conference at 42-18, has the best percentage among the area's CIF schools at .700. That includes a perfect 14-0 record in 1982. Santa Monica ranks second in the Coastal Conference at 46-12-1 (.788). In the Northwestern Conference, North Torrance rates fifth at 36-18-3, Mary Star of the Sea eighth (.555) and St. Bernard 10th (.546).

The CIF's best five-year record belongs to Baldwin Park at 54-6 (.900).

All it took was a Magic touch to give Loyola Marymount University its first full house for a basketball game in 4,192-seat Albert Gersten Pavilion, which opened two years ago.

Magic Johnson returned to town with a few buddies--Isiah Thomas, Mark Aguirre, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and Dominique Wilkins among them--for the "Summer League Pro Championship" last Sunday. The game, which benefited several charities as well as the Loyola athletic department, drew an overflow crowd and provided offense galore in a 153-151 shootout won by the East (the geographical breakdown was hazy).

The best dunks belonged to Wilkins, the "human highlight film" of the Atlanta Hawks. But the Lakers' Johnson pulled off the most theatrical move.

When the public address announcer said, "My money's on the East. . . . I'm from the East and everybody knows the players from the East are better than the West," Magic approached the table, picked up the microphone, simply said, "We (Lakers) are the champs." Then he raised his arms in triumph and flashed his famous smile.

As the cheering rose to a tremendous ovation, Magic dashed into the crowd for impromptu high fives.

Loyola hopes for similar crowds during the regular season. "It's easy," said Athletic Director Brian Quinn. "All you have to do is get Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas and Dominique Wilkins."

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