It’s Two Titles for Birmingham

Times Staff Writer

The girls’ team had what could be described as a perfect meet.

The boys’ squad had a few glitches here and there.

But at the conclusion of the City Section track and field championships Thursday night at Lake Balboa Birmingham, the host Patriots had become only the third school in the history of the meet to win the boys’ and girls’ titles in the same year.

Los Angeles Dorsey swept the team titles in 1996 and ’97 before Woodland Hills Taft accomplished the feat in 2000.


Birmingham, led by double sprint champion Vonnie Fulford, totaled a record 125 points in the girls’ meet to finish 25 points ahead of runner-up Gardena. Reseda Cleveland had the previous record of 113 points last year.

The Patriot boys, paced by Damian Rinaldi’s victories in the 800 and 1,600, defeated Dorsey, 89-81, for their second consecutive title.

“I think our depth and our balance all the way through on the both the boys’ and girls’ teams enabled us to win the championships,” Birmingham Coach Scott King said.

Birmingham’s come-from-behind victory in the girls’ 400 relay, the first running event of the meet, seemed to jump-start a Patriot team that won its second titles in three years after finishing second to Cleveland last year.

Birmingham was in third place, a good seven meters behind the leader, Woodland Hills Taft, when Fulford received the baton for her anchor leg. She made up the difference and then some as Birmingham’s 47.66-second clocking left them fourth-tenths of a second ahead of runner-up Taft.

Fulford scored 24 1/2 points for Birmingham. In addition to running in the 400 relay, she won the 100 in a career-best 11.99, the 200 in a career-best 24.81 and ran the third leg on a team that finished second in the 1,600 relay in 3:51.25.

Other Birmingham winners were junior Marina Santana in the 800 with a career-best 2:18.24, senior Jennifer Mobarez in the 1,600 in a career-best 5:10.94, freshman Emmaline Hartel in the girls’ 3,200 in a career-best 11:23.30 and junior Melanie Sonby in the pole vault at 8 feet 6 inches.

Rinaldi, a senior, used a strong kick to win his second consecutive titles in the 800 and 1,600 in the boys’ meet.


He ran a career-best 4:19.22 in the 1,600 before winning the 800 in 1:56.51.

Brandon Myles of Carson produced the top individual mark of the meet when he won the boys’ 400 in 47.46, the fastest time in the state this year.