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High Schools | DAILY REPORT

Huntington Beach Runner Still Hospitalized

September 23, 2003|John Ortega; Eric Sondheimer; Lauren Peterson | From Staff Reports

Eugene Kim, a cross-country runner for Huntington Beach, remained at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana on Monday after being hit by a falling lamp post Saturday night while he was competing in the Irvine Woodbridge Invitational.

Kim, a junior, was about a half-mile into the boys' sweepstakes race when a metal lamp post that had broken off from its cement base fell on him.

Huntington Beach Coach Tony DiMarco said that the base of the permanently mounted lamp post had rust on it and that runners had been grabbing it throughout the meet as they made a turn in Alton Athletic Park.

The post hit Kim in his upper back, but the force of the blow knocked him to the ground and crushed the first and second lumbar in his lower back. He underwent six hours of surgery Sunday, during which time eight screws and two titanium rods were inserted in his spinal cord.

"We're so glad that he's not paralyzed," DiMarco said. "But it's devastating to us as a team and devastating to him to have to go through this."

DiMarco did not witness the accident, but when Kim failed to run by where he was stationed on the course, he began to worry.

Shortly after the race, runners from another school told Huntington Beach coaches that one of their runners was down on the course.

"He was actually in very good spirits," DiMarco said when asked how Kim was doing when he arrived at the scene of the accident. "He was in pain, but he was talking. I don't think any of us, including the paramedics, realized how seriously he was hurt at first."

Kim was initially taken to Irvine Medical Center before being transported to Western Medical Center for surgery.

-- John Ortega

Michael Stuart, the Marmonte League defensive player of the year last season at Westlake Village Westlake, committed to USC on Monday.

Trojan Coach Pete Carroll watched Stuart play last week against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Stuart is a receiver and defensive end for the Warriors.

Kris Kasarjian, a starting outfielder at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame last season who transferred to Westlake and committed to UCLA, has decided to graduate in December and will play for Pierce College this season.

-- Eric Sondheimer

Laguna Beach's Katie Ochwat has been a versatile contributor for the Breakers (4-0), the No. 3 girls' tennis team in the Southland. The sophomore, 56-9 in sets last season, is unbeaten this year. She won three sets at No. 2 singles against Sage Hill and three more at No. 3 singles in a 10-8 victory over Dana Hills.

She also played No. 2 doubles with junior Correy Miller against Palm Desert and Woodbridge, and the pair swept each time.

"She is just one of those players who gets no respect," Laguna Beach Coach Brian Ricker said. "But she is just such a good little competitor. She just wins, you know what I mean?"

El Modena High, the second-place team in the Century League behind Villa Park last season, may challenge the Spartans for the title this year. The youthful Vanguards (4-0) have posted victories over Costa Mesa, Santa Ana Valley, Garden Grove Santiago and Esperanza with a top nine that includes no seniors.

No. 1 player Sarah Smetana, a junior who is 7-1 in sets, is the only returnee from last year. She is joined by four freshmen, including No. 2 player Paige Suica (9-0 in sets), and the doubles team of Aston Morris and Kalin Eshelman, as well as two sophomores, three juniors and the only senior, Janelle McMicheaux.

"They've been a real pleasant surprise," said El Modena Coach Jim Schultz.

Palisades Coach Bud Kling recorded his 700th victory in a 13-5 intersectional decision over Santa Monica Crossroads on Thursday.

Kling, who has coached the Dolphin boys' team since 1980 and the girls' team since 1984, has a combined record of 700-68 and 24 City Section titles, 12 with each squad.

-- Lauren Peterson

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