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HIGH SCHOOL SECTION PLAYOFFS : Day Goes Perfectly for Dring

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The only things John and Anne Dring had an appetite for during this stomach-churning track and field meet were their fingernails.

Throughout the day, daughter Allison Dring, Mt. Carmel’s great hope to win four events at the San Diego Section championships, slowly simmered in her own pressure cooker while high in the stands, Mom and Dad tried to turn down the heat on their own emotions.

“It’s worse on us then it is on her,” Anne Dring said.

But Dring, a sophomore wisp of a girl who runs like a heavyweight, took the pressure and ran with it, winning the 200 and 400 meters and competing on the winning 400 and 1,600-meter relays Saturday at Poway High.

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“I just can’t believe it,” said Dring, who set a section record of 54.29--second best in state this season--in the 400 and contributed to a meet record in the 1,600. “This is all going to take a while to sink in.”

A good deal more time than it took Dring to record her first victory here. Aided by a shaky baton pass by Morse on the third leg of the 400 relay, Mt. Carmel and Dring--running anchor--fought off a 12-year section final winning streak by the Tigers and won in 47.92, .14 ahead of Lincoln. Morse (48.09) finished in third.

The victory reminded Dring of how she had felt when she dropped the baton during the Palomar League championships.

“I never felt so bad about dropping the baton,” she said. “That was a hard thing to deal with. It’s great to get a second chance.”

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Less than an hour later, she had a second chance for a victory, this time in the 400. Dring never trailed and accelerated coming around the final curve to leave the field far behind. Already weak from her all-out style of running, Dring’s legs almost buckled beneath her when she heard her time.

“I’ve been looking at the meet record book and it gives me shivers,” she said. “I had no idea I’d run that fast today.”

Maybe the ghost looming in the distance had the first clue. Dring said she makes a habit of pretending there is an imaginary figure ahead of her in the 400. Her job is to catch it.

“I focus on putting something in front of me, and I chase it,” she said. “I scare myself if I run side-by-side with someone else.”

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Dring has reservations about the state meet she will run in Friday and Saturday in Cerritos--"It scares me to death,” she said--but Mt. Carmel Coach Dennis McClanahan said Dring isn’t the same runner she was last year.

“She has a much better understanding of the sport now,” he said. “Plus, I think she’s a lot more committed than when she was a freshman. She didn’t realized where the sport could take her.”

Said Dring: “Last year I came into the season, and there was this big track. I had no idea what was out there. Now, I’m more concentrated on my purpose.”

John Dring said Allison knows more about the competition and how to race against them.

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“She identifies with the people she’s competing against,” he said. “She didn’t know what to expect before. Now she does.”

In the 200, Dring drove hard and finished in 24.38 to edge Monica Henderson of Morse (24.63).

Not relying on Dring to make the difference, her teammates in the 1,600 gave Dring a big lead for her anchor leg. Mt. Carmel defeated San Pasqual by almost five seconds.


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