Jason Lovell ran his season best in January and hasn't broken 48 seconds in the 400 meters since March 17.
It would be a mistake, however, to assume the senior at Cleveland High has peaked this season.
So says Lovell and Cleveland sprint Coach Bill Paden.
Lovell, defending City Section champion in the 400, ran a hand-held and yearly state-leading time of 47.5 in an all-comers' meet at Cal State Northridge on Jan. 20.
That remains his season best heading into today's Arcadia Invitational at Arcadia High.
The invitational portion of the meet starts at 4 p.m. with the first running event at 6:10.
Less than ideal conditions have played a part in Lovell's slower times.
So has a new attitude in which he's less concerned with running fast times early in the season.
"Last year I was trying to do something spectacular in every race," Lovell said. "Because I didn't run [as a sophomore], I felt like I had to reestablish myself and get my name back out there. I'm established now so I'm more relaxed about things."
Lovell ran 49.2 in the 400 during an injury-slowed freshman season at Cleveland, but transferred to Taft before his sophomore year.
Big things were expected of him there, but he was expelled from school for disciplinary reasons.
He spent the second semester of his sophomore year and the first semester of his junior year in a home-study program before returning to Cleveland.
He ran a school-record and state-leading 47.43 to win the 400 in the West Valley League final last May, but finished fifth in 48.31 in the state championships.
"He was on the downside of his [racing] cycle by the time of the state championships," Paden said. "His training is geared so that shouldn't happen this year."
That doesn't mean Lovell is going to continue to run times in the mid-48 second range.
Paden says a school record is a possibility tonight and Lovell figures he can break 47 if the conditions are good.
The meet is regarded as the best regular-season invitational in the nation.
Senior Anita Siraki of Hoover, runner-up in the national cross-country championships in December, is favored to win her second consecutive title in the 3,200.
Senior Chris Morgan of Taft, defending state champion in the boys' 110 high hurdles, is a co-favorite in that event. He'll also run on a 400 relay team expected to battle Reagan High of Austin, Texas, and Long Beach Poly for first.
Senior Jamil Smith of Palmdale, defending state champion in the boys' triple jump, is the No. 2 entry in that event and the No. 4 entrant in the long jump.
Sophomore Allyson Felix of L.A. Baptist is favored to win the girls' 100 against a field that includes defending champion Porchea Carroll of Rio Mesa, but she'll be an underdog to junior Angel Perkins of Gahr in the 200.
Schquay Brignac of Taft, defending state champion in the girls' high jump, will try to defend her title in that event and is entered in the long jump.
Senior Daniel Clements of Taft is not expected to contend for a victory in the boys' mile, but could get pulled to a school-record clocking in a race that includes seniors Alan Webb of Reston, Va., and Ryan Hall of Big Bear.
Webb became the first U.S. high school runner to break four minutes in the mile since 1967 when he set a national indoor record of 3:59.86 in January.
Hall was the No. 2-ranked miler in the nation last year and his 1,500-meter best of 3:45.12 converts to a mile in 4:03.13.