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Lewis goes down with injury and Bell-Jeff misses state

Erik Boal

Even with a healthy Pharrin Lewis running to her full potential, the

odds of the Bellarmine-Jefferson girls’ team qualifying for the

CIF-State Cross-Country Championships were long ones at best.

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But when Lewis -- a two-year varsity runner and three-year member

of the school’s track and field team -- went down with a pulled right

hamstring near the midway point of Saturday’s CIF Southern Section

Division V final at Mount San Antonio College, any chances the Guards

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had of advancing effectively disappeared.

Lewis, a 17-year-old senior, was among the top 20 runners at the

time of her fall -- which, had she maintained that position over the

full 2.91-mile course, would have been good enough to qualify for

Saturday’s event at Fresno’s Woodward Park as an individual -- but as

she came off the switchbacks and approached Poop-Out Hill, her

cross-country career came to a premature end.

“I could feel it coming on the way down the switchbacks, and then

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[right before Poop-Out] I felt something snap,” said Lewis, who

clocked 20 minutes 36 seconds at the Nov. 15 preliminaries, which,

had she duplicated that time, would have been two seconds ahead of

the final individual qualifying mark posted by Celine Cutter of

Carpinteria Cate.

“The reason I fell is because it gave out on me, and after that I

just couldn’t get up [for two to three minutes].

“And once I stood up, I felt it even worse.”

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Lewis was attended to by a pair of on-site trainers and taken to

an area near the finish chute, while the rest of her teammates

completed the race to finish 13th with 361 points. It was Bell-Jeff’s

third straight appearance at the division final, following a

ninth-place effort in 2001 and a 10th-place showing last season.

However, only the top seven teams qualify for the state meet.

Lewis’ mom, Pamela, said she knew something was wrong when she saw

Amber Herkey (49th; 21:49), Erin Madrid (64th; 22:31), Shenandoah

Fasano (83rd; 23:46), Nikki Taylor (86th; 24:08) and Cynthia Hajj

(87th 24:13) all come by the midway point before her daughter, who

had suffered a mild strain to the same hamstring two months ago.

Although the injury was disappointing for Lewis -- who clocked

21:15 at last year’s final to take 33rd out of 93 runners -- she said

it will provide more motivation for her to excel during the spring

track season.

“I’m just going to work on my conditioning and try to build [my

hamstring] up the best I can,” Lewis said.

“And this gives me even more incentive [to succeed] in track.”


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