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June 03, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, June 03, 2005

Fab finish for two Eagles sophomores Fab finish for two Eagles sophomores (June 03, 2005)

Eric Hersey, Bria Nelson headed for State Championships

By Scott Campbell

For the Los Altos track and field team, the future is already blossoming. Two Eagles sophomores, Eric Hersey and Bria Nelson, advanced to the State Championships behind their standout performances at the CCS Finals on May 27.

Hersey topped a loaded field in the 110-meter hurdles, while Nelson qualified with her strong second-place finish in the 400-meter race.

"It's definitely been a dream of mine all year," Hersey said of moving on to the State meet on June 3. "It's incredibly exciting."

After transferring following his freshman year at Marin County's Redwood High School, a member of the North Coast Section, Hersey entered a deep field of hurdlers in the CCS.

"Coming down here, it was a bit intimidating because there were so many good marks," said Hersey, who nevertheless unseated the defending champion, Santa Clara's Scott Robinson, with a personal-best time of 14.45.

The emotion of being a winner was one that Hersey could get used to.

"It was incredible being out there in front," said the sophomore, who also finished fifth in the 300-meter hurdles. "I've never had that feeling before and it was just the best race I've ever had."

Meanwhile, racing only minutes later at Los Gatos, Nelson found extra motivation in her teammate's success.

"We promised that we would be State buddies," said Nelson, who broke her own Los Altos record with a time of 56.71. "I was so happy he got first and it warned me that I had to go now since he's going."

Nelson had a comfortable lead entering the last leg, but was overcome by Palo Alto's Mia Lattanzi on the last straightaway.

"She just kicks it at the last 150," Nelson said of Lattanzi, who also trumped her in a similar one-two finish two weeks earlier in the SCVAL Qualifiers. "I was focusing so hard on just staying with her ... and I tried, but she just holds back and she just goes."

Nelson showed her versatility by finishing seventh in the 200-meter dash and running legs in the Eagles' 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams, which both placed seventh.

In the eyes of at least one teammate, Nelson has taken big steps in her second season.

"Bria's come a long way because she was a little freshman last year with a lot of talent and didn't really know how to handle it, but this year she's really stepped up," said Eagles captain Daphne Owen. "Bria ran four events today at CCS and that's just an amazing thing for anyone to do."

Los Altos coach Julia Widstrand also noted Nelson's resolve.

"Bria ran the best 400 I've ever seen her run," said Widstrand, "and she still finished and said, 'Do you know what? I've got more in me.'"

Nelson and Hersey hope to pull out all the stops when they compete against the state's best at Sacramento's Hughes Stadium this Friday.

"It's getting more and more nerve-wracking because I've never gone this far," said Hersey, "but I'm super excited."
E-mail Scott Campbell at [email protected]

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