PREP CROSS COUNTRY: Leuzinger runner takes first in Bay meet despite focusing on soccer. Fairley looks strong. By Tony Ciniglio STAFF WRITER For all intents and purposes, Leuzinger’s Jose Lezama was not even supposed to compete in cross country this year. Peninsula senior Megan Fairley enjoyed a renaissance performance by winning a loaded girls race with an impressive 17:51 clip, showing some of the starpower she had before being besieged by injuries last season. While the Mira Costa girls and boys teams posted dominating victories, the buzz was about Lezama, who seemed to come out of nowhere for the second straight season. Lezama went out in front of the pack with Mira Costa runners Danny Kalinowski and Alex Adler. In the final mile, Lezama took off and grimaced his way to the finish line, trying to catch his breath after his stunning victory. “Man, I’m really dizzy – I need to start practicing again,” Lezama said in near-disbelief. “I couldn’t believe this. I haven’t practiced in so long. “I was doing it for my friend, Josed. My legs were tired at the end, and I thought the other runners were going to catch up, but I knew I had to win for the girl. “I promised her.” Lezama said his P.E. teacher, Sharon Curto, convinced him to come back out for running because she told him that was his best bet to earn a scholarship. Lezama said he was headed to club soccer practice after the meet as he will try to balance running and soccer. “It’s OK – after an hour all the pain goes away,” Lezama said. Adler told Lezama immediately after the race that he should focus on running. Kalinowski took second in 15:27, and Adler followed right behind in 15:28 for Mira Costa, which had 35 points to outdistance Palos Verdes and Redondo, which each had 67 points. “We worked terribly hard this summer, going to Mammoth and training with a club team,” Kalinowski said. “And we did great as a team. But Lezama is a great runner and a great guy, really genuine. I respect him, and I think everybody does.” Fairley looked like her old self with a superb run. Fairley went out with Mira Costa front-runners Shadeh Tabatabai and Kevyn Murphy. Then going up a hill on the last mile, Fairley took off and never looked back, beating Tabatabai by two seconds in a race missing Redondo frontrunner Chloe Curtis, who was held out with a minor left ankle injury. “When the big hill came, I was trying to stick with Megan, but she took off, and I was like `Whoa.’ She’s amazing,” Tabatabai said. “She came back really strong, and that will push us as a league.” Though it was an early-season meet, Fairley said she came out with something to prove. “I wanted to show that I’m not done yet,” Fairley said. “This was the first time I was back with a block of training behind me, and I wanted to show that I still had something to offer. It’s not easy in this league, but that’s what pushes you. ” Mira Costa certainly provides that push. The Mustangs, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division II poll, took four of the top six spots to score 27 points, beating Peninsula (53) and West Torrance (69). Tabatabai secured second place in 17:53. Murphy, competing in her first meet of the season after recovering from her own set of injuries, took third in 18:18, and Kelly Shambaugh was fourth in 18:40. Aleyna LaCroix (sixth, 18:53) and freshman Savannah Pio (12th, 19:12) rounded out Mira Costa’s fab five. “That’s what we’ve been working on – packing – and everyone’s gotten so good for us,” Tabatabai said. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! He had informed Coach Erich Tucker that he intended to focus on soccer. He had not trained since the Bay League track and field finals in early May and did not even decide to run in the opening Bay League meet until a mere few days before. And that’s what made his performance Thursday even more extraordinary. Powered by raw talent and pure guts alone, Lezama burned up the course at the opening league meet at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach, stunning the field with a resounding victory over a talented group of runners who had been training all summer. “I think they’re mad at me right now, really mad,” said Lezama, last year’s league runner-up who covered the three-mile course in 15 minutes, 21 seconds on Thursday. It was a day of comebacks.