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Gettis Creates a Buzz With Season's Fastest 400

June 07, 2003|John Ortega | Times Staff Writer


That was the word David Gettis of Los Angeles Dorsey uttered when he was informed about his winning time in the first heat of the boys' 400 meters in the state track and field championships Friday at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

It was also the word that would have summed up the reaction of a crowd of 6,642 that had just watched the 6-foot-2, 194-pound sophomore post the fastest time in the state this season with a 47.14-second clocking.

Gettis' time crushed his previous best of 47.99 set in finishing third in the City Section championships on May 29 and left runner-up -- and previous state leader -- DeSean Cunningham of San Diego University City nearly a second behind him at 48.04. Not bad for someone who started running track this season and had a best of 49.17 three weeks ago.

"I came out there and was just trying to run as hard as I could," Gettis said. "I heard about the Cunningham kid. My coach said, 'If you see his shadow, keep on running.' I heard his footsteps so I kept on running, kept on pushing ... I didn't feel tired at all at the end."

Gettis, who was running in lane six, had a two-meter lead on Cunningham, who was in lane five, after the first 300 meters of their heat. But few people expected him to pull away from the more experienced senior in the homestretch.

"We got him to go out a little bit slower today than he did last week," Dorsey boys' Coach Ralph Tilley said about Gettis.

The question now is whether Gettis can produce a similar performance when the final is held this afternoon.

Gettis was one of two athletes who posted state-leading marks in the qualifying rounds.

The other was senior Rudy Burgess of Edwards Air Force Base Desert, who led qualifying in the boys' triple jump with a state-leading effort of 49 feet 9 1/2 inches after posting the No. 2 qualifying mark in the long jump at 24-2 1/2.

Seniors Billie Jo Grant of Arroyo Grande and Allyson Felix of North Hills Los Angeles Baptist and freshman Myra Hasson of Gardena turned in some of the other notable performances by athletes from the Southland.

Grant, the defending state champion in the girls' discus, led qualifying in that event with a throw of 166-4 and was the No. 2 qualifier in the shotput with a career-best 50-4. That mark moved her to seventh on the all-time state list.

Felix posted the fastest qualifying time in the 200 at 23.03 and in the 100 at 11.38. Hasson led qualifying in the girls' 400 with a 53.64 clocking that crushed her previous best of 54.53.

In team competition, Long Beach Poly remained the favorite in the girls' meet while La Mesa Helix is challenging Compton Dominguez in the boys' meet.

Nearly all of Poly's top competitors advanced to today's finals, including junior sprinters Shalonda Solomon and Jasmine Lee.

Dominguez entered the meet as the boys' favorite, but the Dons suffered a big setback when Craig Woods failed to advance to the final of the 300 intermediate hurdles after posting the second fastest time in the state last week.

Senior Derrell Hutsona of Helix was the leading qualifier in the 100 at 10.65 and in the long jump at 24-4. The Highlanders also posted the fastest qualifying time in the 1,600 relay at 3:16.30.

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