By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Alec Schmitt waited until the last possible moment to make his move in last Thursday’s City Section boys frosh/soph 3200-meter final at Birmingham High.
In fourth place rounding the final turn, the dynamic Palisades High freshman turned on the afterburners and finished first out of 16 runners in 10:19.06—edging San Pedro ninth-grader Finley Kircher by 68 hundredths of a second.
“I thought I would lose and I had to just kick as hard as I could,” said Schmitt, who sprinted the last 400 meters of the eight-lap race in a blazing 62 seconds. “It’s always about the second mile. The longer the better for me.”
Schmitt was the Dolphins’ third placer and took 17th overall in 16:15.16 in the City cross country finals on the three-mile Pierce College Course in November. He started running as a sixth-grader at Paul Revere Middle School.
In the girls’ frosh/soph 3200 final, Pali High sophomore Sophia Klotz was fifth in 12:29.32.
Several Dolphins qualifed for the finals in multiple events at the varsity prelims, most notably Jane Nwaba, who tied for first in the high jump (four feet, eight inches), took fifth in the long jump (16-01.50) and was fourth overall in the triple jump (34-10.50).
Lilyan Garside won her heat in the 400-meter dash in 59.60—the third fastest qualifying time, advanced in the long jump with a leap of 16-01.00 and acnhored the 4×100 and 4×400 relays, both of which qualified for the finals.
Senior Brittany Darrow, the reigning City 800 champion, won her qualifying heat in 2:21.48 and will try to upset top qualifier Sofia Abrego of Granada Hills (2:20.00), who won the cross title as a freshman in the fall. Skylar Smith was second in her heat in 2:24.56 and advanced to the finals.
Two-time varsity 3200 winner Sarah Bentley was second in her heat and third overall in the 1600 in 5:07.24 and teammate Miranda Schriver took second in her heat and fourth overall in 5:12.72.
Bentley and Schriver crossed the finish line together in 11:23.78 in the 3200 and tied for second behind Abrego (11:10.11).
Sophomore Chandler Smith (15-11.00) notched one of the last qualifying spots in the long jump and clocked 13.25 in the 100-meter dash.
For the boys, Nick Mendez (22.85) qualified for the 200-meter final, Shayne Larimer barely missed qualifying in the 400, Phillip Venkov qualified in the 800 in 1:58.67 (seventh overall) and fellow sophomore Lucas Schriver was fifth in the 3200 in 9:51.88.
Nnamdi Onwaoze won his heat in the 110 high hurdles in 15.65—the second-fastest prelims time behind the 15.60 clocked by Dorsey’s Alex Sweeney. Chandler Hooks also advanced in 16.41.
Nnamdi (40.66) and fellow junior Kenny Davis (40.82) were the top two qualifiers in the 300 hurdles while the 4×100 (fifth in 43.26) and 4×400 relays (second in 3:27.54) both advanced.
Devin Fry finished in a four-way tie for sixth place to move on in the high jump at 5-08 and Davis was fourth in the long jump (20-08.50).
Sy Riley, a linebacker on the Pali High football team in the fall, threw the shot put 36-11.00.
The City Championships are tomorrow at El Camino College in Torrance. Field events begin at 2 and running events start at 5 p.m.