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.
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
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
[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
“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.”
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
“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.”