Ali had his Frazier. Magic had his Bird. Nadal has his Federer.
In the world of sports, individual rivalries often bring out the best in an athlete. They can also provide some of the most exciting — and competitive — head-to-head matchups.
Such is the rivalry that has emerged this season between high school runners Greg Dotson of Burbank and Sean Krinik of Placentia Valencia.
The runners have been the two top performers in the state this season in the boys' 800 meters, along with being among the best in the nation.
That competition will continue today, as both will battle it out in the 800 at the CIF-State Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium on the campus of Buchanan High in Clovis.
Despite the competition for supremacy in the 800 — as Krinik and Dotson came into state competition with the Nos. 1 and 2 times in the state — the athletes are anything but bitter rivals. In fact, Dotson and Krinik get along well, respect one another and even relish in each other's success.
"He is just a great athlete," Dotson said of Krinik. "We are really almost like the same person. We do a lot of things the same way and I think we approach races the same way.
"I think we help each other out because we go out and push the pace in races and try and go the fastest that we can. I know when I'm behind him he can feel be coming on, and that makes him go faster. We really work together."
Krinik sees the same benefits in the rivalry between the two senior runners. He said he has a great deal of respect for Dotson and he admires his talent.
"It's cool to have someone right there with you in a race, because it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you beat a runner like Greg," said Krinik, who set the top mark in the nation this year at last week's Masters Meet when won with a time of 1 minute, 49.18 seconds
"He's an awesome runner and I respect the heck out of him. It's really fun to compete against him and I know he makes me run faster."
Krinik's admiration for Dotson was displayed at the Master's Meet on May 28 at Cerritos College. When he found out that Dotson tied the Burbank school record with a second-place finish of 1:50.38, Krinik appeared more excited than the Bulldog.
"That's just awesome," Krinik said to Dotson, as he gave him a high-five.
In two races this season, Dotson hasn't been able to beat Krinik in the 800, finishing second to his rival in both races.
At the Meet of Champions on March 27 at Azusa Pacific University, Krinik finished first in 1:50.16, setting the fastest mark in the nation at that time. Dotson was second in 1:50.49, setting the second-fastest time in the nation at that time.
As the two go at it again in today's 8 p.m. final, with the state title on the line, Dotson is hoping the third time's the charm against Krinik.
"This is the race to do it," Dotson said. "I just have to go out and run my race. "Maybe I can beat him this time."