The Belmont High cross-country teams won girls' and boys' City championships at Pierce College Saturday in a meet marked by drama and surprise.
Trailing only Hamilton senior Genevieve DeBose with 10 yards to the finish line, senior Kirstin Kabo of Granada Hills Kennedy collapsed. After many unsuccessful attempts to stand, Kabo crawled to the finish line, but not before she was passed by 13 other runners.
DeBose won the three-mile race in 19:33. Imelda Flores (19:42) and Yolanda Gomez (19:52) finished second and third, helping Belmont to a 35-114 victory over second-place Huntington Park. Belmont has won five consecutive City titles.
Kabo finished in 20:38.
"My (right) leg felt really heavy and it wouldn't move," said Kabo, who was walking gently 10 minutes afterward. "I had to crawl. I couldn't get up and I didn't want to try one more time."
Senior Ricardo Valenzuela surprised himself by winning the boys' race in 15:19, leading Belmont to its second consecutive City title. South Gate's Humberto Sanchez was second in 15:24.
Thousand Oaks High has been the state's top-ranked boys' cross-country team all season, but it wasn't until Saturday's Southern Section championships at Mt. San Antonio College that the Lancers shifted into overdrive.
Thousand Oaks, paced by Brandon Del Campo's victory, placed five runners among the top 18 finishers to win its second consecutive Division I title.
Del Campo completed the three-mile course in 15:09 to hold off Hart junior Brett Strahan, who was second in 15:10.
Agoura, led by the one-two finish of junior Amy Skieresz and senior Kay Nekota, won its fourth consecutive Division I girls' title.