By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
It all came down to the last event last Friday night at El Camino College, where the Palisades High boys track team was trying to capture its first City Section team championship.
The Dolphins led Granada Hills by two and a half points heading into the last race of the finals meet—the 4×400 relay, where the winner receives 10 points and the runner-up eight. The Highlanders had the fastest prelims time, followed by Palisades, meaning the Dolphins had to place at least second to retain the points lead and secure ultimate victory.
Kenny Davis got the Dolphins off to a fantastic start, bursting out of the blocks and circling the track before handing the baton to Nick Mendez, who ran a strong second leg, then handed off to Nnamdi Onwaoze, who made up ground on the third lap.
By the time Shayne Larimer received the stick for the anchor leg the Dolphins were a few meters behind frontrunning Granada Hills, but Westchester and Dorsey were right behind, each looking to steal second place—and the City title—from Palisades. It didn’t happen, as Larimer widened the gap between himself and the third-place contenders on the final straightaway. Granada Hills won the race in 3:23.21 followed by the Dolphins in 3:24.97 and when points were totaled Palisades had held off the Highlanders by the slimmest margin possible, 64-63.5.
“We put the money in the bag—that’s how we live,” Larimer said of the frantic end to the four-lapper. “My body went numb. It was nothing like anything I’ve ever run. I pushed myself to finish strong.”
Onwaoze had been the first runner in Pali High’s foursome until freshman William Mullins got injured and Onwaoze switched to the third leg.
“Shayne kept teasing me about getting second,” he said. “So I wanted to do the opposite and get him the lead so he didn’t feel the pressure.”
Davis also took second in the long jump with a leap of 22-04.00, three inches short of winner James Burbank from View Park.
“In the last relay I was thinking about my kick at the end to give Nick a big lead,” Davis said.
“Kenny killed it,” said Mendez, who was eighth in the 200-meter dash in 23.59 seconds and ran the anchor leg on the Dolphins’ fourth-place 4×100 relay, which clocked 43.11. “We practiced hand-offs a lot leading up to the race so I was more worried about maintaining my position. The adrenaline really hit me so I didn’t feel exhaustion until about five minutes after the race.”
Onwaoze also ran the second leg on the 4×100, took first place in the 110 hurdles in a personal-best 15.26 and won the 300 hurdles in 40.26. Chandler Hooks (15.80) was third in the 110 hurdles and Davis (41.64) was third in the 300 hurdles.
“In the long jump I was seeded fourth and went from 20-08 to 22-04 on my fourth jump, which is a huge PR,” Davis said. “In the 300 [hurdles] I took a spill at league finals and was iffy about doing it.”
Brett Bailey added to the team total by taking sixth in the 1600 in 4:31.10 and fellow sophomore Lucas Schriver was sixth in the 3200 in 9:43.77.
Kyrick Curl ran the first leg on the 4×100 and Devin Fry ran the third leg and also cleared 6-02.00 to win the high jump competition.
The foursome of Emmett Kallmeyer, Ryan Breitman, Jose Sevilla and Joshua Novacs was third in the introductory 4×800 relay.
In the frosh/soph division, Steven Price was second in the 100, Jamil Johnson was second in the 110 hurdles and the 4×100 relay won in 44.93.
While the boys competition was decided by the slimmest possible margin, Carson ran away with the girls title, racking up 130 points to win for the sixth straight year.
Palisades, which won girls titles in 2010, 2012 and 2013, took second with 51.5 points.
Erica Bagby cleared 11-09 to win the pole vault, Chandler Smith, Molly Ryan, Mia Emerson and Lilyan Garside were third in the 4×100 relay (49.73) and fourth in the 4×400 (4:11.87) and Garsdie (60.15) was fourth in the 400.
Brittany Darrow was second by three seconds in the 800 in 2:19.82 while fellow senior Skylar Smith was fifth, junior Sarah Bentley was third in the 1600 and sophomore Miranda Schriver was second by three seconds in the 3200 with a time of 10:49.20.
Garside was fifth in the long jump (16-06.50) and Jane Nwaba took fifth in the high jump (4-10) and sixth in the triple (35-05.50)
Granada Hills freshman Sofia Abrego became only the second girl in section history to sweep the 800, 1600 and 3200 races at City Finals, matching the feat of Palisades’ Marissa Williams, who “tripled” as a junior in 2014.