Pinto Slows Her Pace to Regain Winning Form


Patience has never been one of Martha Pinto’s virtues.

Pinto, a Katella High School junior, generally believed that the harder and faster she ran in practice, the better she would do in competition. But like many runners who overdo, Pinto was more often hurt than healthy.

Last fall, she suffered a hip injury during the cross-country season that slowed her training to a near-shuffle. While she managed to advance as far as the state cross-country championships, Pinto finished 14th in that race, an impressive performance considering the circumstances, but not the season-capper for which she had hoped.

Katella Coach Mike Cochrane said that after the cross-country season, he sat Pinto down and discussed the importance of rest and proper diet, and was convinced that Pinto would change her ways. But after watching her tire in the latter portion of a 3,200-meter race in the Arcadia Invitational in April, Cochrane was perplexed.


“We couldn’t understand why she was so tired,” Cochrane said. “Then we found out she’d been running in the morning with some kids, and one of their fathers had been really working them, making them run hard quarters (quarter-mile repeats) . . . We put an end to that.”

Since then, Pinto, The Times’ athlete of the week, has performed tremendously. Thursday, she won the 3,200 and the 1,600 at the Empire League finals. In the 3,200, the first race, Pinto ran virtually alone the entire distance, breaking Cypress’ Rhonda Craig’s 11-year-old meet record of 11:00.24 with a career-best and county-leading 10:57.98. Later that afternoon, Pinto turned in one of the most exciting performances of the season by outracing her league rival, Los Alamitos’ Tracy Fatone, to win the 1,600 in another career best, 5:10.76.

In the past, Pinto had always been outkicked by Fatone. Last week, the two were side by side with 300 meters to go, but when Fatone started to pass Pinto, Pinto hung on and came back in the final 50 yards to edge Fatone at the finish.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh, she’s going to pass me at the end again like always,’ ” said Pinto, who is 4-foot-9 and 103 pounds. “But I just started to try (to kick) again, and somehow I caught her. I think I just had a lot of energy. I don’t know why.”


Heather Killeen won the 880 (2:28), mile (5:34) and two-mile races (12:01) to lead Valencia to the Orange League track and field title Friday.

Sionainn Marcoux of Foothill set two individual school records in swimming and was part of a third record-setting performance at the Century League finals Friday. She set individual records in the 200 freestyle (1:53.60), 500 freestyle (4:58.33) and 400 freestyle relay (3:37.97).

Elinor Tolson set two meet records Friday to lead La Quinta to the Garden Grove League girls’ track and field championship. Tolson, a freshman, won the 330- and 110-yard low hurdles in meet record times of 46.1 and 14.8 seconds, respectively, and also won the 100-yard dash in 11.5.

Kristen Wilson, who normally is the catcher at University, pitched a perfect game in her first varsity start to lead the Trojans to an 11-0 six-inning softball victory over Corona del Mar.

Martha Pinto

Katella High School

* Position: Distance runner

* Height, Weight, Class: 4-9, 103, Junior.

* Last Week: Pinto won the 3,200 and 1,600 runs at the Empire League track championships.

* Season: Pinto is undefeated in the 3,200 in Empire League competition this season and won the event at the Orange County Championships.