On a windy Thursday afternoon at Pierce College for the City Section cross country prelims, the conditions didn't exactly make for fast times, but defending Division I champion Paul Luevano of Venice made it clear he's still the runner to beat.
Luevano won his heat in 15:13.04, stamping himself as the favorite for next Saturday's final at Pierce College.
"I felt I was running sub-15, but the wind made it extremely hard," he said.
Freshman Brent Smith of Palisades showed that he's going to be a factor, winning his heat in 15:56.87. Marshall's Hector Garcia, second place to Luevano last year, took it easy in Smith's heat, finishing seventh in 16:16.60 but still expects to give Luevano a strong challenge next week.
In Division I girls, sophomore Patricia Sanchez from Santee won her heat in 19:07.89. The girls' individual race is wide open after the graduation of Marissa Williams from Palisades. Teresa Castillo of Bravo won her heat in 19:03.79.
For team titles, El Camino Real, Palisades and Santee should battle it out in the boys' ranks. Birmingham, Palisades and Bravo will be contenders in girls.
In Division II boys, the fastest time was 15:57.36 by Veejay Jones of Verduog Hills. Christhian Macias of Gardena won his heat in 16:30.92.