Esperanza captured its sixth consecutive boys' team championship at the Empire League Track and Field Finals, but second-place Cypress won the 1,600-meter relay in an exciting conclusion to the meet Thursday at Rancho Santiago College.
Cypress, defeated twice by Esperanza during the season--at the teams' league meet and at the Orange County Championships--remained in third for three laps of the relay while El Dorado and Esperanza dueled ahead. At the bell on the anchor lap, Cypress' Jimmy Hutsell, who also won the 400, took the lead and then lost it on the backstretch as the three runners jockeyed for the lead.
Hutsell regained the lead and held off Esperanza's Kareem Clark to win in 3 minutes 24.72 seconds. Esperanza's quartet of Tom Tape, Anton Hector, Colin Heron and Clark finished in 3:26.00. El Dorado was third (3:26.60).
"Now, we're going on to more victories," Hutsell said.
Hutsell then pointed to his shaved head and teammate Raphael Randles' head--similarly shorn--and credited the hairdo for the victory. The other two relay members, Brian Hand and Scott Elkin, don't shave their heads.
Esperanza's Heron said his team, which finished second at the county meet behind Foothill, running the county's second-leading relay time of 3:22.28, was not at full strength because of injuries and illnesses.
"So we weren't at our best today," Heron said. "But we'll catch them (next time)."
There was no catching Los Alamitos' Cavetra Mitchell, who won the girls' 100 in 12.19, 200 (24.67), 100 hurdles (15.03) and anchored the winning 400 relay team.
Mitchell, a senior, who was academically ineligible last season and began running the hurdles this season, said she favors the event.
"I started practicing them over the summer and Loara was the first meet I ran them," Mitchell said. "I started liking them after that."
In the boys' 1,600 and 3,200, Esperanza's Shawn Frack defeated Katella's Mike Love. Frack, who will run only the 3,200 at next week's Southern Section preliminaries, ran 9:36.79 to Love's 9:40.27.
Sophomore Carrie Caulkins doubled in the girls' 1,600 (5:17.94) and 3,200 (11:32.75), winning both to help Esperanza to the girls' team title with 161 points to Los Alamitos' 110.