Section Reverses Result; Engesser Awarded Race : High school track: Discovery of mistake, review of photo finish, prompt officials to award victory in 800-meter final to Ocean View runner.


The Southern Section, proving that nothing is over until it says it is, has reversed the results of last Saturday's Division I girls' 800-meter final.

The new winner is Christie Engesser of Ocean View, and the new second-place finisher is Sherron Rhetta of Long Beach Poly.

Most of the crowd at the divisional track and field finals at Cerritos College left the stadium thinking Rhetta had nosed out Engesser in a dramatic photo finish. How close was it?

Officials read the runners' times in thousandths of seconds and eventually found Rhetta to be the winner, 2 minutes 12.053 seconds to 2:12.057.

But the track and field rule book says you push times only out to hundredths, no matter how close the race. Meet director Dean Crowley realized the officials' mistake on Monday, and when he took a closer look at the photo, he discovered that Engesser's shoulder was barely ahead of Rhetta's chest at the finish.

The glare on the glossy photo made it difficult to read in the bright sunshine Saturday. But it was plain as day on Monday under the lights in Crowley's office.

Crowley called Ocean View Coach Beth Chilcott on Monday and showed a blowup of the photo to the Long Beach Poly coaches Tuesday.

So now it's official: Engesser is the winner in 2:12.05, with Rhetta second with the same time. "She's excited," Chilcott said of Engesser. "But it's not the same two days later."

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