PREP CROSS COUNTRY: ECR sophomore Cline joins Fulton's Vargas as City girls' champ; Fulton boys prevail again Nov. 17, 2011

from LA Daily News - All Sports News· ·

In the days leading up to the City Section cross country finals, Peyton Cline was in no condition to attend school, let alone compete in a race.

In the days leading up to the City Section cross country finals, Peyton Cline was in no condition to attend school, let alone compete in a race. The El Camino Real sophomore, who was battling chest congestion and had difficulty breathing, did not attend classes Wednesday. Cline not only took part in Thursday's final at Pierce College, but ran one of the best races of her young career. Cline covered the 3-mile course in a personal-best 18 minutes, 15.71 seconds, outkicking heavily favored Evelyn Gonzalez of San Pedro in the last 75 meters to win the City girls' large school division individual title. Cline was in third place at the 2 1/2-mile mark, trailing Gonzalez and Marshall's Vanessa Herrera. But she made her move going up "Puke Hill" passing Herrera, before coming down the final 100 meters and outkicking Gonzalez to become what is believed to be the first City champion in program history. "I saw the distance and wasn't sure how good the two girls' kicks were," said Cline, who placed third at last year's City finals. "When I got to the top of the last hill, I saw they were tired. When I hit the last corner, Evelyn was 15 yards in front of me. I knew I had to stay with Evelyn or at least try to keep up with her and then use my kick to beat her. She's a strong runner." And her move paid off as she edged Gonzalez, who finished in 18:17.59. San Pedro still won the girls' team title, placing four runners in the top 10 to score 48 points. Birmingham, last year's City champion, finished second with 84 points, followed by Palisades (91), Santee (140) and ECR (146) in fifth. It was an impressive performance for Cline, who qualified as an individual for the state meet Nov. 26 at Woodard Park in Fresno. "I have never wheezed a day in my life," Cline said. "The last mile I felt it. That was the only thing that was working against me." San Fernando's Giovanna Romo and Chatsworth's Giselle Masedo also qualified as individuals. Romo clocked 19:04.57 to place seventh and Masedo finished eighth at 19:10.72. Fulton Prep's Ana Vargas clocked 20:26.12 to win the girls' small school division individual title. Vargas overtook Harbor Teacher Prep's Gabriella Meza - the defending small school division champion - in the last mile to win the title. "I was nervous but yet calm," said Vargas, who qualified for the state meet as an individual. "I knew I could do it. I just had to stay focused." LACES won the team title with 67 points and Fulton Prep finished sixth (112 points). Behind a first-place finish from Grant Stromberg, Palisades won the boys' large school division title. The Dolphins placed three runners in the top 10 for 68 points. Santee (94), San Pedro (106), Marshall (109) and Taft (136) rounded out the top five. After winning the boys' large school title last season, Birmingham couldn't overcome significant losses to graduation and placed seventh (155). Taft's Esteban Aviles was the highest boys' area finisher, clocking 15:54.28 for fourth place. Birmingham freshman Ryan Alexander placed 10th at 16:14.78 with ECR's Ezra Soriano (16:15.64) coming in 11th. Fulton Prep placed four runners in the top 10 to repeat as boys' small school division champions. Alejandro Cortez (17:37.28) was third for the Jaguars, followed by teammates Isaias Lopez (17:53.21) in fourth and Jose Fuentes (17:53.21) in fifth. "We wanted to run as a pack and win it again," Lopez said. "It was the motivation for us all season. I feel this was the best team and we wanted to go out there and prove it."