When Beno Bryant of Dorsey High School runs the 400 meters, he looks at ease with himself, unlike his preparation that is anything but easy.
“I really dislike the quarter (-mile), especially when it comes time to run,” said Bryant, who set a new City record of 46.63 last Thursday night at the City Track and Field Championships at Birmingham High School. “The only time I like it, is after I am done.”
Bryant, who only started to run the 400 meters late last season, has found success in this one lap race despite his pre-race jitters.
This season, he is undefeated against California competition at 400 meters, suffering his only loss to Albert Ransom of Denver Montbello at the Arcadia Invitational April 8.
Bryant seems to reach a new level with every race, witnessed by his 46.1 anchor leg in Dorsey’s 1,600-meter relay 3:13.38 victory Thursday.
“I just run to the level of my competition,” said Bryant, who is headed to the University of Washington on a football scholarship. “I have been gaining experience with every race.”
With his success, Bryant’s reputation has grown and so has the pressure for him to win every race.
He was in attendance last Friday night at the Southern Section Masters meet at Cerritos College, and says that he received a great deal of attention after Curtis Conway of Hawthorne ran a 45.8 anchor leg in the Cougars’ 1,600 meter relay 3:13.43 victory.
“I couldn’t believe all of the people staring at me after he ran,” Bryant said. “It was if I was Sugar Ray Leonard watching a fight or something.
“When the loudspeaker mentioned our (1,600 meter relay time) after Hawthorne’s race, people where calling my name and everything.”
Bryant, who also finished second in the City 100 final and anchored the Dons’ winning 400-meter relay team, is aware of a possible showdown with Conway, his former Jr. All-American football teammate.
“I have been thinking about it ever since Friday night,” he said. “There is not any rivalry between us, but people are trying to make one.”
Bryant, who has been working after school for the for the Centinela Collection Agency, respects USC-bound Conway.
“It should be a good race because he is a good runner,” Bryant said. “But I am in it to win it just like he is.”
Winning the girls’ City 400 meters was an another Dorsey runner, senior Angela Rolfe, who also won the 100 and 200 meters.
Rolfe, two-time defending 400-meter state champion, has emerged this season as one of the most consistent runners in the nation.
In considering her sprint sweep, Rolfe said she was surprised with her 100-meter victory.
“The one event that I did not expect to win was the 100 meters,” Rolfe said. “I knew that it would match (Locke’s) Leann Tinkshell’s start against my finish.
In the City girls’ 800 meters, Kim McAllister of Locke and Camille Mayo of Los Angeles were involved in a bizarre fall, costing both a shot at a state title.
In a showdown between the two top 800-meter runners in the city, both started with a fast first lap.
The University of Houston-bound McAllister broke for the lead at 200 meters, with Mayo close behind. At the 350 mark, Mayo made an inside move past McAllister.
A stride later, Mayo went down, with McAllister tumbling down over her.
“I do not know what happened,” said Mayo, who will attend Southern University in New Orleans in the fall. “I just know I had taken the lead and she was trying to pass me again; then the next thing I knew I was on the ground.”
Said McAllister: “I knew both of us would start out fast. I had felt her coming past me on my inside, then she tripped. I could not do anything but fall over her after that.”
Trisha Phillips of Locke, who went on to win the race, said she was surprised with the pace of their start.
“I was trying to move up on them right before they fell,” said Phillips, a junior . “I am glad I did not go out with them, because I would have went down too.”
However, for McAllister and Mayo, there is a happy ending, as both qualified in the 400 meters.
The first of an annual baseball series matching all-star teams from Los Angeles City against Orange County will be held Thursday, June 8, at 7 p.m. Coaches for the City team are Kermit Taylor of Washington, Bob Moroney of Bell and Ron Kasperian of Westchester. Coaches for the Orange County team are Jack Hodges of Laguna Hills, Bob Ickes of Santa Ana Mater Dei and Steve Gallotti of Placentia El Dorado. Proceeds will benefit the Watts-Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club.