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Lonesome Aguirre Wins 3,200 but Fails to Break City Mark

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

San Fernando High distance runner Obed Aguirre discovered Friday just how difficult it is to chase records all by himself.

Aguirre’s 9-minute 16.24-second effort in the 3,200 meters in the City Section track and field preliminaries at Birmingham High was more than 10 seconds off the City record of 9:05.40 set by Wilson’s Jose Amaya in 1971, but consider the conditions:

* The Tiger senior ran virtually alone after Venice’s Julio Moreno dropped off the pace at 1,200 meters. He finished second in 9:45.56.

* He received little crowd support because most fans headed for the concessions stands during the race, which was run between the 200 heats and 1,600 relays.

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* There was a strong westerly head wind on the home stretch, making a continuous surge more difficult.

“I didn’t have competition,” Aguirre said. “I was trying to break the record but I was running by myself so I couldn’t.”

Venice senior Danny Jordan was slated to run in the 3,200 with Aguirre but withdrew from the race after sustaining a leg injury during a 1,600 heat.

Jordan, one of the fastest 1,600 runners in the nation at 4:10.80, won his heat Friday in 4:21.34 but had to outsprint teammate Ben Mesfen (4:21.59) in the process.

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“He just couldn’t do it by himself,” San Fernando Coach Ken Kohon said of Aguirre. “I had him set for trying to go 4:27 (first mile) and close with a 4:35 but he had difficulty doing it by himself.”

After coming through 1,600 in 4:32.1 with an 80-meter lead over Mesfen, Aguirre slowed to a 4:44.1 clip over the final four laps.

Aguirre’s effort Friday will be his last hard assault at the City record because he intends to save himself for the state championships, Kohon said.

“I want to take a good place in state,” said Aguirre, who is confident he can win the City title.

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The top four finishers in each heat and the competitors with the top eight marks in the field events advance to the City semifinals Thursday at Birmingham.

Kyle Beck of Chatsworth qualified for the semifinals in three events and said he is looking forward to racing Carson’s Curtis Hawkins, the defending City champion in the 110 high hurdles with a 14.0 mark this season.

“Gotta beat that boy from Carson,” he said.

Beck timed 14.91 to win his heat in the hurdles and came back in the 300 intermediates with a 40.11 heat victory. As the No. 1 alternate in the long jump, Beck leaped 21 feet 8 inches to place sixth.

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Canoga Park’s Marcus Reed established the top qualifying mark in the long jump for the semifinals, a seasonal-best 22-10. Locke’s Kyhuann Woods, the current City leader in the event at 23-2, finished second at 22-7 1/2.

The Granada Hills girls’ relay teams recorded a pair of heat wins in the 400 and 1,600 with a different mix of runners from the ones who won the Northwest Valley Conference titles last week.

Highlander co-Coach Eric Parker often shuffles the girls not just to confuse opponents but to allow athletes more rest between events.

“It throws opponents off for one, but most of our girls are stressed out because they’re doing so many events,” Parker said. “I have a lot of depth so I can afford to (alter the teams).”

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The 400 relay team of Danielle McCulley, Patrice Lattimore, Kim Montgomery and Shaunte Parker easily won its heat over conference-rival Canoga Park in 48.87. The Hunters timed 50.51.

Lattimore, Nathania Wagner, Michelle Fowles and Parker combined for a 4:09.63 heat win over Hamilton (4:11.05).

Lattimore (12.73) and McCulley (12.75) earlier qualified for the semifinals in the 100. Parker missed the 100 semifinals by a fraction of a second but later placed second in her 200 heat in 26.16. Lattimore also advanced in the 200 in 26.56.

Montgomery, a 57.7 runner in the 400, notched a 59.60 mark to finish third.

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Wagner rebounded from a fifth-place finish (17.36) in the 100 low hurdles to win a heat of the 300 low hurdles in 48.74.

Taft’s Greg Bernard, runner-up in the shotput in last year’s City championships, threw 53-4 1/4 to lead all qualifiers.


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