Another 1,600-meter showdown between Birmingham High's Brian Gastelum and Venice's Danny Jordan figures to highlight the City Section track and field championships today at Birmingham High.
The meet gets under way at 3 p.m.
Gastelum and Jordan, both seniors, have met four times this season with each runner winning twice. But Gastelum has beaten Jordan in their last two meetings, including a one-second victory over the defending City champion in the Arcadia Invitational on April 7, when Gastelum recorded the nation's fourth-fastest mark at 4 minutes 9.87 seconds. Jordan, ranked fifth, has run 4:10.80.
Gastelum, the runner-up last year in the City 1,600, predicted that a 4:11 to 4:12 clocking will win tonight. The top four finishers in each event will advance to the state preliminaries June 1 at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
"I'm ready for it," he said. "I'm going to lead from the beginning. I know that a fast pace takes a lot out of a runner and it takes a lot out of Jordan."
In the City semifinals last week, Gastelum defeated Jordan by nearly five seconds.
Gastelum also qualified for the 3,200 final, in which he will renew his rivalry with City cross-country champion Obed Aguirre of San Fernando. Gastelum, runner-up in the cross-country finals, recorded a personal-best 9:22.88 in finishing second to Aguirre in the semifinals. Aguirre, who timed 9:10.38 in the Arcadia Invitational, won the semifinal heat in 9:15.80.
Taft's Ruben Benitez and Granada Hills' Derrick Stewart will battle in the 400 final. Benitez outleaned Stewart to win a semifinal heat in 48.60 while Stewart timed 48.61. Those times represent the third- and fourth-fastest qualifiers in the final. Only John Floyd (47.39) of Locke and Dorsey's Lamont Warren (48.28) are faster.
Birmingham freshman Deetra Dear staked a claim to the 800 girls' title last week with a personal-best 2:16.58 clocking, the City's top mark this season. She will contend with Locke's Trisha Phillips (2:17.65) and Latoya Polk (2:18.34) of Hamilton.
Washington and Locke are strong favorites to win the boys' and girls' team titles, respectively. Washington qualified three runners each in the 100 and 200 and have one competitor each in the 800, 110 high hurdles, 300 intermediate hurdles and triple jump, plus both relays.