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Birmingham Senior Makes Girls' History

November 20, 2005|Josh Gajewski | Times Staff Writer

Emmaline Hartel of Lake Balboa Birmingham ran into the record books Saturday at Pierce College, where the senior became the first girl to win three City Section individual cross-country titles.

Hartel, who finished the 2.9-mile course in 18 minutes 16.99 seconds, and third-place finisher Jennifer Hernandez (18:32.05) paced the Patriots to their fourth team title and first since 1998. In the boys' final, San Pedro junior Steve Calise (15:21.31) upset defending champion Gabriel Guzman of North Hills Monroe, but Guzman's Vikings celebrated the team crown, their first since 1973.

"That's why I had to win it, I run for glory," Hartel joked when asked about becoming the first three-time girls' winner.

Often a slow starter, Hartel said she felt "worse than usual" at the start and fell behind the leaders.

Running side by side, Hartel and Hernandez jumped to the lead halfway through the race and then began to pull away from the rest of the pack at the two-mile mark, though El Camino Real's Sarah Roth (18:30.02) eventually caught Hernandez on the final hill to finish second.

Birmingham's girls finished with 42 points, Woodland Hills El Camino Real earned the second state berth with 47 and San Pedro, which was vying for its fifth consecutive girls' crown, finished third with 55 after one of their top runners was disqualified for cutting the course.

San Pedro's boys also failed to extend their string of City dominance, but managed to grab the section's second state berth with 67 points to Monroe's 60. The Pirates had won the last three City titles.

Monroe had a scare early when Ulver Lopez appeared to get tangled with another runner at the base of the first hill and fell. He finished 28th.

Coach Dean Balzarett, who coached Monroe to its last sectional crown, said he told his runners "at the start of the race, 'If you run your best times, we're going to win.' But we didn't realize one of us would fall and they all came through miraculously."

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