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'Flawed' Fleshman Has Enough to Defeat Elite Field of Staub Runners

Cross-country: Canyon senior, fighting cramps, overtakes Stein on final hill to stay undefeated.


GLENDALE — Why is it that so many of the great ones seem to have a tragic flaw?

Greg Switzer, the Hoover High cross-country coach, posed that question Saturday after watching Lauren Fleshman of Canyon win the Division I girls' title and lead the Cowboys to victory in the Kenny Staub Invitational at Crescenta Valley Park.

Fleshman, a senior who placed second in the West Region championships last year, clocked 18:21 over the three-mile course to remain undefeated in five races this season, but she was slowed by stomach cramps.

Unexplained cramps forced Fleshman to drop out of two races--including the Staub meet--last season--and those memories weighed on her mind Saturday.

"I was kind of wiggy about it because of what happened last year," Fleshman said. "I didn't feel very good at the start of the race so my attitude was, 'I just have to get through it and give myself a chance to win at the end.' "

Fleshman did that by running a stride or two off the pace for the first 2 3/4 miles before surging past sophomore Natalie Stein of North Hollywood.

Stein, the defending City Section champion, led the field through the first mile in 5:55 with Fleshman, sophomore Anita Siraki of Hoover, sophomore Laura Jakosky of Agoura and senior Tiffany Burgess of Birmingham right behind.

Jakosky and Burgess dropped off the pace 600 yards later and Siraki soon followed.

Stein continued to lead through the two-mile mark, but many spectators figured it was a matter of time before Fleshman passed her.

"You can tell when Lauren is holding back," Canyon Coach Dave DeLong said. "You can see that she's trying to limit the amount of jarring she takes. When she feels good, she leans forward a little when she runs, but when she feels the cramps coming on, she looks very mechanical and kind of sits back."

She sat back until the final uphill portion of the course and then surged past Stein, who finished second in 18:27.

Siraki placed third in 18:35 and Jakosky was fourth in 19:22.

Burgess finished 10th in 19:46.

"We talked about going after the course record [of 17:30 set by Amy Skieresz of Agoura in 1992]," Fleshman said. "But that was if I felt good."

Canyon, the No. 8-ranked team in the Southern Section Division I poll, totaled 79 points to win its fourth Staub title in five years.

Claremont finished second with 87 points, followed by defending City champion Birmingham with 100, defending Staub champion Quartz Hill with 115 and Agoura with 140.

Freshman Jazmin Treadway finished 16th in 20:25 for Canyon with junior Erin White 18th in 20:27 and freshman Barrie Truex 19th in 20:34 for the Cowboys.

Belmont swept the top three places in the Division I boys' race to win the team title with 23 points.

Canyon, with senior Abe Young finishing 12th in 16:51, placed second with 117 points, followed by Agoura with 119.

In other races, juniors Jeff Arnold of St. Francis and Nicolette Viray of Granada Hills won Division II titles.

Arnold clocked 16:31 in the boys' race and Viray timed 20:07 in the girls' event.

Burroughs defeated Pasadena Poly, 100-105, for the Division III boys' title.

Sophomore Michael Navarro finished second in 16:55 for the Indians and junior Brian Anderson was third in 16:57.

L.A. Baptist won the Division III girls' title with 74 points, four points ahead of runner-up Pasadena Poly.

Junior Rachel Davis placed sixth in 21:24 for L.A. Baptist.


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