Despite ranking 10th in the nation in the 1,500 meters and winning an NCAA Division II cross-country title for Cal State Northridge last year, Darcy Arreola entered this track season without much recognition.
She might have taken care of that Sunday.
Coming off victories in the 1,500 at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays and the S&W; Invitational in Modesto, Arreola beat world record-holder and Olympic 1,500-meter champion Paula Ivan to finish third in the Jack in the Box Invitational mile at UCLA.
Although she finished behind Olympic 3,000-meter finalist PattiSue Plumer (4 minutes 29.54 seconds) and longtime nemesis Teena Colebrook (4:30.92) of Great Britain and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Arreola came away with a personal best of 4:33.91--and a sense of belonging.
"I know I belong in this type of competition," said Arreola, whose previous best of 4:35.81 came in last year's Jack in the Box meet.
Arreola, who is redshirting at Northridge this season but plans to compete for the Lady Matadors next year, passed Ivan with about 700 meters left in the race. She had shadowed the Romanian runner for more than two laps before surging past her into third place.
"I figured she'd win it," Arreola said. "When I passed her, I could tell she didn't have it. We all know she can run a lot faster."
Arreola said her main goal this season is to run well in next month's The Athletics Congress championships at Cerritos College. Sunday's performance might have contributed to that end.
"It sure gave me confidence," she said.