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Gettis Hits His Winning Stride

June 17, 2004|John Ortega | Times Staff Writer

Ask David Gettis of Los Angeles Dorsey to name the most memorable race of his recently completed junior track and field season and his answer might surprise you.

It's not the final of the boys' 400 meters in the state championships in Sacramento on June 5, when Gettis won his second consecutive title in 46.69 seconds, the fastest time run in the meet since 1996.

Nor is it the City Section championships on May 27, when his 46.39 broke the school record of 46.63 set by Beno Bryant in 1989 and moved him to third on the all-time section list behind Danny Everett of Los Angeles Fairfax, who ran 45.76 in 1985, and Fabian Cooper of Los Angeles Washington, who ran 46.38 in 1982.

The race that Gettis remembers most was an 800 in a preseason all-comers meet at Santa Monica High, where he finished second in 1:58.

"I got beat by a guy who was 21 years old," Gettis said. "But that was the first time I broke two minutes.

"I remember thinking after that race that if I could continue to run 800s and work hard and get better in them, I could gain the strength I would need to run 46 or even 45 seconds in the 400."

The smooth-striding, 6-foot-4, 192-pound Gettis didn't become the eighth California high school runner to break 46 seconds in the 400, but he was selected The Times' boys' track and field athlete of the year.

Gettis, who is expected to be a highly recruited wide receiver in football in the fall, was one of the most surprising winners in the 2003 state championships after improving by more than two seconds in the final three weeks of the season. But he was the preseason pick this year.

"It was a lot different than last year," said Gettis, whose 47.14 at the start of the season was his personal best. "Because everyone knew who I was, everyone was shooting for me."

Gettis ran 47.31, then the second-fastest time of his career, to win the Pasadena Games at Pasadena City College on March 27. But he saved his best performances for the final month of the season, when he posted the three fastest times in the state this year in the 400 and helped Dorsey to a victory in the City Section championships and a third-place finish in the state meet.

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