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Confidence in his speed

Riding early-season success, hurdler James Knowles of St. Francis broke records and advanced to the Masters Meet.

July 27, 2011|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com

James Knowles' speed was a boon throughout the season for the St. Francis High track and field team, as he quickly cleared every hurdle en route to consistently winning the 110- and 300-meter hurdle races.

Long before the first meet in early March, Knowles' confidence level had surged after putting in countless hours training and conditioning for both events so that he would be in line for a potential banner season.

Knowles played a large role in making the Golden Knights one of the top teams in the ultra-competitive Mission League. The junior also proved he could stand out in some of the top meets the state had to offer.

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"My goal coming in was to have a great season, and I had a better understanding of the things I could do," said Knowles, who captured league championships in both races before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet. "I had started earlier with my training because I wanted to have more endurance for this season.

"I also had some goals, like winning league and going far in CIF. I'm very proud of myself. It's one of the best years I've ever had in track and I'm looking to use it to help me for next year."

Knowles got plenty accomplished this season, from setting a school record in the 110 hurdles to being the lone area athlete to qualify for the Masters Meet. With all that he was able to accomplish, Knowles was selected the 2011 Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year, as voted on by the sportswriters and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

From the start of the season, Knowles could do little wrong on the track.

In a season-opening league meet against host Harvard-Westlake on March 3, Knowles stepped to the forefront. He won the 110 and 300 races in 14.70 seconds and 40.48, respectively.

"That meet helped me get things going," Knowles said. "That was a big meet going up against them."

As the season progressed, Knowles continued his steady improvement. He recorded a fourth-place finish in the 110 hurdles at the prominent Arcadia Invitational on April 8 at Arcadia High. He then won a pair of league titles during the league finals at L.A. Valley College on May 5, which included a then-personal-best mark of 14.77 in the 110 race before clocking 39.43 in the 300.

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