LOS ANGELES – Occidental College distance runner Deanna Dupuy (Newbury Park) ran the 5K in the 20-minute range as a freshman, she was in the 19s as a sophomore, in the 18s as a junior and now the senior is, "in the 17s."
Among pros and elite college runners, Dupuy ran a 17:51.91 in Section 1 of the 5,000 meters at the Oxy Distance Carnival at Jack Kemp Stadium and Bill Henry Track on Friday, carving out a spot on Oxy's all-time 5K list with the fifth-best women's time.
"It's a really complete feeling and I want to see if I can go even lower," Dupuy said, adding that she thought it was the most consistent race she's ever run.
The strategy for Dupuy was to not worry about the elbowing and cutting-off that came with running against the seasoned, high-caliber athletes next to her, but instead to focus on an 86-87-second lap pace.
"It was a big-girl race," Dupuy said. "I had to do my own thing and be brave."
The Oxy Distance Carnival is an open meet that attracts top talent from all over the region. Pros, club runners, junior college stars and even NCAA Division I athletes are all mixed together depending on seed times.
Running with the best brought the best out of Dupuy.
"I'm really happy with my performance," Dupuy said. "The woman in front of me was a pro so I told myself, 'if I can catch this pro that'd be nice.'"
Dupuy snatched the fifth spot on Oxy's big board away from her teammate, friend and running mate Megan Lang (Longmont, Colo.), who missed the meet with an injury. During the 2012 cross country season, the pair finished every race one and two for Oxy, with Lang enjoying the upper hand. This time Dupuy was in the spotlight.
But she said she misses running with Lang and thinks that when they're both healthy, together they can drop even more time.
"I'm excited to run with Megan again," Dupuy said. "Together we can push it and I think both Megan and I can go faster as a team."
Colin Smith (Las Vegas), Oxy's highly-touted men's 5K star had a decent showing in Section 1 of the men's race, but the sophomore was battling the flu five days ago and appeared to lose his legs midway through the race. Smith finished 15:02.74.
"With running, some days you have it and some days you don't," said Smith, refusing to let his recent illness serve an excuse. "My legs just weren't cooperating today.
"The good news is I'm pretty sure I'm in great shape. We're just going to implement harder workouts and hopefully I'll be ready to go for that national qualifier sometime soon."
In the exciting 3,000-meter steeplechase, Danielle Lyons (Lake Forrest Park, Wash.) set her personal best by 4 seconds, finishing in in fourth in Section 2 at 11:59.78. Tara Saxena (Palo Alto) finished right behind her in fifth at 12:00.88.
Oxy's Jesse Wong (San Mateo), known as a 400 and 110 hurdler, surprised his teammates and coaches when he ran a 1:57.67 in Section 3 in the 800 – the meet's shortest event. Not a bad showing for the sophomore considering he hadn't really run the race since high school.
Not running, but seen cheering on his former Oxy teammates from the infield was four-time SCIAC Cross Country Men's Athlete of the Year Erik Kleinsasser (Glendale). Kleinsasser, who graduated in 2012 with one track and field season of eligibility left on the table, is currently in a graduate program at USC for earth sciences and geochemistry. He's been working with the USC coaching staff and hopes to make his first appearance as a Trojan at the Mt. Sac meet in mid-April. After that, he's on to the Pac 12 meet.