Gardena High School senior Leina Phuong Luu almost gave up her track-and-field career because she was embarrassed by her unorthodox style in the high jump.
But after an upset win Thursday afternoon in the Southern-Pacific Conference Championships at Carson High with a career-best jump of 4 feet, 10 inches, Luu said she is glad she stuck with it.
"I like to jump because it's a lot of fun," said the 5-foot-tall Luu, who was the shortest high-jump competitor. Luu said she learned her unusual style--a face-down, head-first dive--in her native Vietnam.
San Pedro's Neysa Weyrauch, the defending conference champion in the high jump, qualified for this year's meet at 5-0 but finished second at 4-9.
Banning's Terrence Campbell nosed out conference record-holder Curtis Hawkins of Carson in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 14.6 seconds.
Campbell was a slight favorite in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles but had to come up with a late surge to beat Hawkins again by a tenth of a second.
Banning's Lucrecia Mendoza and Carson's Steven Gonzales were the other two-event winners, taking the girls' and boys' 1600- and 3200-meter races.
Banning's Lashette Molette qualified for three events and won the 110-meter low hurdles in 15.6 seconds despite feeling "worn out" after being "in and out of the hospital the past two weeks" with dehydration problems.