Alhambra long-distance runner places second in 1,600 before coming back to win the 3,200 at Pasadena Games.
Above: Alhambra’s Phillip Benevides, left, places second in the 1,600 at the Pasadena Games. He would later win the 3,200. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)
By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
PASADENA – Phillip Benavides disavows running in circles.
But the Alhambra High School senior might be changing his mind. In nearly perfect weather at the 65th edition of the Pasadena Invitational on Saturday at Pasadena City College’s Jackie Robinson Field, Benavides set two personal bests. Yes, running in circles. He won the 3,000 meters and finished a close second in the 1,600, leading for half the race.
On a day filled with top marks in the state, eight area varsity performers and one area team scored victories.
Benavides won the 3,000 in 8 minutes, 49.15 seconds. He was second in the 1,600 in 4:20.66.
“I’ve never had back-to-back PRs in track,” Benavides said. “Those were gut races. I just said in my gut that I’m just going to go for it. I’m going to try to make state.”
Benavides took the lead in the 3,000 on the last lap from Loyola’s James Kostelnik, who finished second. He ran an inspiring 1,600 by jumping to the lead and carrying the action for the middle 800 meters, before fading in the final 120 meters when he ran out of gas.
Charles Maginness of Notre Dame won in 4:19.08.
“I bettered my expectations,” Benavides said. “I’m taking a different approach to track. I’m taking it like cross country.
“I’m just in the middle of training. I don’t even have my spikes own yet. I planned the 1,600 that way. I was planning on running 1,200 and then just make it home.”
Benavides didn’t have the only inspiring performance. Two athletes, Taft sophomore Dale Morgan and Marc Whatley of Crespi had state-leading times on Saturday. Three relay teams took over top state marks.
Morgan set two top marks in in winning the invitational 110 high hurdles in 14.46 and 300 in 38.97.
“We had a real hard workout this week and I just had to get focused,” Morgan said of his two victories. “I knew I could do well because hard work makes things happen.”
Whatley had a leading time in the 400, winning in 47.71. He barely beat Jonathan Byrd of Carson, who ran a 47.77. The Long Beach Wilson girls 1,600 relay team lowered its own state-leading time, in 3:50.33, Crespi’s boys 1,600 relay team went a state-best 3:17.80, sixth best in the nation, and the Saugus 3,200 relay team ran the state’s fastest time, the nation’s No. 2 time, in winning in 9:21.06.
The Crespi 400 relay team had the second fastest time in the state in winning the invitational race, in 41.74, Yasmin Woodruff of St. Mary’s won the 200 in 24.81, the second fastest in the state, the Saugus 1,600 duo of Kaylin Mahoney and Katie Dunn finished 1-2, with Mahoney winning in 4:59.28, the fourth fastest in the state and sixth fastest in the country. Ashtynn Baltimore of Marlborough on both of her hurdles heats, running the eighth fastest 300 low hurdles time in the state, 44.93.
London Finley of St. Mary’s ran the third fastest 300 low hurdles time in the state, winning the invitational in 43.35.
Area winners: La Salle’s Luke Eisenhardt in his 800 heat in 2:01.18, Dot Silverman of Flintridge Prep came from behind in the final 100 meters to win her 1,600 open race in 5:15.69, South Pasadena’s Krist Potayee won his 110 high hurdle heat in 15.54, Muir’s Ahmere Owens won the 100 high hurdles in 15.53, Jeffrey Stephens of South Pasadena ran away in his 400 heat, winning in 53.00, Muir’s Lindsey Cooper won her 100 heat in 12.56;
Wylie Brandon of La Salle won his 100 heat in 11.81, Muir won its 1,600 relay heat in 3:27.27 and Aubrey Thomas of South Pasadena won her 300 low hurdles heat in 49.47.
“That race was fast,” he said. “Now I know what the top competitors will be like. I thought I did pretty good, but now I know what I need to work on.”
The best West San Gabriel Valley race was in the girls 300 hurdles.
Tara Atkinson (South Pasadena) finished second to teammate Thomas, running a 49.61 and Muir’s Joneil Robinson was third in 50.07.
There were five other second-place finishes. Pasadena’s boys 400 relay team finished its heat in 44.21, Muir’s John Patton was edged by Ventura’s Ken Haley in the 110 high hurdles, 16.37 to 16.59, Parclete’s Mariah Gibson beat South Pasadena’s Stacy Lee in the 400, Lee running a 61.16; Pasadena’s Alexis Walker finished second in the high jump at 6-4 and South Pasadena’s Stephens was second in the 300 hurdles in 41.80.