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Race Victories are Fulfillment of Vows for Fairchild, Quintana

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After Melody Fairchild of Boulder, Colo., and Louie Quintana of Nipomo won their respective races at the Kinney Cross-Country National Championships Saturday at Morley Field, both runners quickly looked back to the same December day two years ago.

For Fairchild, what she most remembered of the 1988 Kinney Nationals was how San Diego County’s Kira Jorgensen, the winner of the previous year’s race and a favorite to repeat, let the pressure get to her. Jorgensen not only failed to repeat, she finished out of the top 10.

On that day, Fairchild vowed never to let anyone else’s expectations become more important than her own.

Quintana’s recollections of that Saturday are quite different. All he recalls is a wicked fever that caused him to finish last in his first appearance at the meet. Quintana--who a week before had bettered his personal best by more than 20 seconds--was devastated. But he vowed to vindicate himself.

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Two years later, both Fairchild and Quintana made good on those vows.

“Kira Jorgensen was under so much outside pressure,” Fairchild remembered Saturday. “I went up to her after the (1988) race and told her she was an inspiration to me because she didn’t let (her finish) bum her out.”

Fairchild knew that if she was going to stay away from the pressures that got to Jorgensen, she was going to have to shield herself from the outside. So for three weeks leading up to Saturday’s race, Fairchild denied all interview requests from the media.

“We just focused on her running her own race,” said her coach, Guy Zakrevsky. “We weren’t concerned with other people.”

It seemed to work. Fairchild’s time of 16 minutes 39.26 seconds over the 5,000-meter course was not only 58 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Jeannie Rothman of Westlake Village, but it also set meet and course records.

The previous course record was held by Janet Smith of Edison, N.J., who ran a 16:43.7 in 1983. The prior meet record was held by Connie Jo Robinson of Cincinnati, who ran a 16:40 in Orlando in 1981, the only year the race was not at Morley Field.

Fairchild also accomplished what Jorgensen could not. Fairchild’s first-place finish was her second in a row at the Kinney meet, the first time anyone has done that since Erin Keogh in 1985-86.

“This is the kind of glory you can get from working hard,” Fairchild said. “I wanted to give every ounce of energy I had in me, and that’s what I love about running.”

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Quintana’s first-place finish of 15:07.22 was three seconds faster than his third-place finish at the 1989 Kinney meet. But it wasn’t his 1989 performance that came into focus after Saturday’s victory.

It was the 1988 finish.

“That was a really bad day,” Quintana said. “I went from finishing fifth in the Western Region a week before and running a PR by 20 seconds to finishing 32nd. But I got sick during the week before the finals. I had a temperature of 102, and I just didn’t run a good race.

“Finishing 32nd was depressing, but I was determined to come back and win the trophy.”

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Quintana led from early on, taking the lead from Madison’s Phil Downs just after the lead pack of 10 had ascended the Upas Street hill.

“I was planning on making my move a little later on the downhill,” Quintana said. “But the pack started coming back to me (on the loop before the downhill), so I went out then.”

Quintana maintained a wide lead until the second time over the hill loop.

“That’s when I started giving it some thought, ‘I’m going to be a national champion, I’m going to be a national champion,’ ” Quintana said.

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At that point Jason Casiano, who finished second at 15:17.16, kicked and narrowed a 15-second gap to eight seconds.

“He was really putting on a surge,” Quintana said. “And when he did, the downhill was in perfect position--I just opened it up on the downhill.”

Some 800 meters later, Quintana was about to cross the finish line. He looked over his right shoulder to see if Casiano had gained ground. He hadn’t.

“I’m still waiting for someone to give me a really good race,” Quintana said.

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Kinney Notes

Fallbrook’s Milena Glusac, a sophomore running in her first Kinney meet, placed seventh at 17:59.82 and seemed happy just to be in the race. “Once you get here, it’s half the job,” she said. “I just wanted to run the best race I could and hopefully finish in the top 10.” Glusac was the second sophomore to finish. Amanda White of Dulaney, Md., placed third at 17:40.69. . . . The only freshman in the race, Carrie Garritson of Lake Arrowhead, finished 11th at 18:18.41. . . . Phil Downs, the early leader in the boys’ race, ended up 14th at 15:38.02.


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