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Mortensen Discovers Warp Speed at Finish

Track and field: She runs down Li and winds up in dead heat with meet record time in 3,000.


WALNUT — To those in the scientific community, "Runner's High" is a term used to describe the physiological changes that occur in the body after long periods of running.

To Kim Mortensen of Thousand Oaks High, the phenomenon is a bit simpler. It's a feeling of effortlessness when you're racing faster than you ever have before.

Mortensen experienced a supreme case in the girls' 3,000 meters at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays on Saturday as she and Li Jien of China finished in a dead heat with a time of 9 minutes 15.89 seconds.

Mortensen ran the fastest high school time in the nation since 1985, crushed the meet record of 9:36.51 set by Kira Jorgensen of Rancho Buena Vista High in 1987 and moved to sixth on the all-time national performer list with the eighth-fastest time.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday April 24, 1996 Valley Edition Sports Part C Page 7 Zones Desk 1 inches; 17 words Type of Material: Correction
Track and field--Michelle Perry was incorrectly identified in Sunday's Times. Perry competes for Quartz Hill High.

"I just had that runner's high," Mortensen said after coming from behind to catch Li at the finish line. "You get to that point in the last part of the race when you have a [200] to go and you know it's going to hurt to push yourself, but today I couldn't feel my legs. I was just going as fast as I could."

Mortensen, who ran a 2:15.8 anchor leg to help Thousand Oaks place sixth in the invitational 3,200 relay with a school record of 9:39.24 in the morning, staged a duel with Li that brought the estimated crowd of 5,000 to its feet for the last two laps and outshone a slew of nation-leading performances--including a 21.06 time by Alemany sophomore Miguel Fletcher in the 200 meters.

Mortensen, who ran a nation-leading 4:44.9 in the 1,600 at the Arcadia Invitational a week earlier, came through the first 1,600 in 4:59.8. Li appeared at times to be chopping her stride in an effort to stay behind Mortensen.

"I expected her to pass me after four laps, but she didn't," Mortensen said. "Then I expected her to go after five and she didn't."

Li waited until a lap remained before surging to a five-meter lead.

Mortensen gradually reduced her deficit in the backstretch and trailed by two meters entering the stretch. Li still had a two-meter lead with 50 meters left, but Mortensen surged one final time and caught Jien at the line with a sprinter's lean.

"It was awesome," Mortensen said. "I loved it. It was cool."

Fletcher lowered his week-old best by .18 seconds in the 200.

"I was looking for something like that," Fletcher said. "I was hoping to get into the 20s."

The 200 was the third of four races for Fletcher, who also ran legs on Alemany's sprint medley, 400 and 1,600 relay teams. His 47.1 anchor leg brought the Indians from third to first in their heat as they clocked 3:20.82.

Canyon's 6,400 relay team of Lauren Fleshman, Brandi Plasschaert, Kellie Stigile and Julie Harris placed third with a school record of 21:12.74.

Michelle Perry of Canyon won the first heat of the invitational 300 low hurdles in a career-best 44.17 and took the open long jump with a leap of 18 feet 1 3/4. She placed second in a heat of the invitational 100 in 12.06 and was third in an invitational heat of the 100 hurdles in 14.76.

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