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Garnic Plans to Run for Fun and La Canada Will Follow

Senior says she will enjoy defending her Division III title without asthma problems.


She is the top runner on a cross-country team expected to be one of the best in the state, but Kim Garnic of La Canada High has only one clear goal.

"I just want to have fun," said the senior. "Last year with my breathing problems, it wasn't fun. It was hard to go out there and enjoy running when I never knew if I was going to have problems or not."

Garnic was forced to drop out of several early meets last year with a mild case of exercised-induced asthma, but she came back strong in the second half of the season, winning the Southern Section Division III championships and placing eighth in the state championships in Fresno.

Her performance helped La Canada to an upset victory in the state meet after finishing third in the section championships at Mt. San Antonio College a week earlier.

"We would have been happy to finish second or third or even fourth in that meet," Garnic said. "It just seemed like the whole team had problems. We were really struggling in the first half of the season. Our top two runners were struggling and that really pulled our team down."

That's not likely to happen again.

La Canada's top six runners return and the addition of two talented freshmen provides a nice blend of experience and youth.

Garnic, Amy Foss and Gina Pengra are seniors and Christina Ellis--the sister of 1996 state Division IV champion Sarah Ellis--is a junior.

Becky Zentmyer and Nicole Bonino, 14th in the Southern Section and state championships last year, are sophomores. Carina Garnic--Kim's sister--and Rachel Frandsen are talented freshmen.

La Canada co-coaches Tony Haynes and Dennis McNulty call this year's team the deepest in school history, but Garnic is wary of making any Southern Section or state title predictions.

"We don't want to look too far into the future," she said. "Because last year, we didn't think we were even going to make it to state at one point and look what happened. You just never know what's going to happen."

Other teams to watch:

Birmingham--The top seven runners return for a Patriot team that won its second City Section title in three years last season.

Seniors Tiffany Burgess, Erika Dolezal and Dina Melendez and sophomore Melissa Astete are the top returners.

Burgess won the 800 and 1,600 in the City Section track championships in May after an ankle injury limited her to a 10th-place finish in the cross-country finals last year.

Dolezal placed seventh in the City cross-country championships and clocked 11:28.87 in the 3,200 in track. Melendez finished ninth in the City cross-country championships and Astete ran 11:30.64 in the 3,200 in track.

Buena--The top five runners, led by junior Cathy Dunne, return for a Bulldog squad that placed 13th in the Southern Section Division I final last year.

Dunne placed fifth in the 1997 Ventura County cross-country championships and clocked 11:47.65 in the 3,200 in track.

Junior Sarah Paine and seniors Melissa Miller, Melissa Niednagel and Jamie McCulley also return for Buena, which has won 14 of the last 15 Channel League titles.

Canyon--Senior Lauren Fleshman, a third-team all-American selection last year, is one of six returners for a team that placed 10th in the 1997 Southern Section Division I championships.

Fleshman, the Times' 1997 Valley-Ventura County region girls' runner of the year, placed second in the Southern Section, state and West region championships last year. She had a 14th-place effort in the national meet in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Seniors Jasmine Cetrone and Emma Barker, juniors Erin White and Kristen Cooper and sophomore Vicky Duffy also return for a team favored to win its seventh Foothill League title in eight years.

Nordhoff--Elaine Canchola, a two-time state and four-time Southern Section cross-country champion, graduated, but junior Rae Stumbough will return for a team that won its fourth consecutive section title last year and placed third in the state Division IV championships.

Stumbough finished fourth in the section and sixth in the state championships.

Junior Natalie Darling and senior Cheri Green are the other returners for Nordhoff, which will be bolstered by the addition of Susan Torres, a junior transfer from St. Bonaventure.

Quartz Hill--Sophomores Shell Blevins and Jennifer Yadon are two of four returners for a team that placed third in the Southern Section Division I championships and fourth in the state meet.

Blevins placed 18th in the 1997 Southern Section championships with Yadon 26th.

Sophomores Katie Shettig and Kim Harrill also return for the Rebels, but senior Carly Harrill--Kim's sister--chose not to run to concentrateon her studies, soccer and softball.

Thousand Oaks--Sophomore Kelley Hess and seniors Amanda Armstrong and Melissa McBain all return from last year's team that won the Ventura County and Marmonte League titles and placed eighth in the Southern Section Division I championships.

Hess won the Marmonte League title last year and Armstrong was the 1996 league champion.



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