Knowles hurdling heights for Knights

St. Francis junior has taken standout season all the way to Masters meet with an eye on making trip to state.

May 27, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk,

As the top hurdler on the St. Francis High track and field team, James Knowles has found his niche in the event where the track and the field most begin to blur into one.

"It's kind of like a combination of field and track," Knowles' fellow Golden Knights hurdler TJ Tree says. "For jumpers, they just focus on jumping and getting more spring and working on form and sprinters are just speed, but hurdles is both. It's all form and it's all speed."

Requiring the foot speed and quickness of a sprinter, but also the agility, timing and athleticism of a jumper — not to mention the focus and coordination necessary to blend it all together on the fly — hurdling is certainly a unique sport and it's become a one-of-a-kind thrill for Knowles.


"It's a great event," says Knowles, a junior. "I don't see any other event that's better than that."

It's a passion that's taken Knowles quite far this season — all the way to tonight's CIF Southern Section Masters Meet at Cerritos College in Norwalk, where Knowles is set to compete against the top runners across all divisions in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles with an eye on advancing to the state championships.

"It was a definite goal for me to get to finals and I'm planning on qualifying for state," said Knowles, who is also an alternate in the 110 high hurdles. "Pretty much, the 300 is a mental race, so I know I can probably put a little bit more than I have. If I PR, then I'll definitely qualify."

The personal-record of 38.38 seconds Knowles set in the 300 hurdles at the CIF Southern Section Division III finals on Saturday at Cerritos College, where he finished ninth, was enough to qualify him for today's Masters meet. He also set a PR of 14.62 in the 100 hurdles, missing the placement cut for Masters in that event by just one spot.

Tonight, Knowles will have to make either the top-five cutoff or a threshold of 38.26 in the 300 hurdles to move on to state. Should he get a chance to compete in the 110 hurdles, a top-five finish or a 14.41 mark would be required for advancement.

Golden Knights Coach Pat Donovan says Knowles definitely has it in him to drop more time and is confident he'll bring his best effort.

"This year I've seen that in every race that he's won," Donovan says. "He's not willing to accept less than his best in any performance."

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