How the Student Loan Crisis Drags Down Home Prices

Image Source | Getty Images

Pity the college graduate, burdened with shocking levels of student-loan debt and looking for a job in the worst employment market in two decades.

But save a little pity for the rest of us.

The staggering amount of outstanding student debt — nearly $1 trillion owed – is beginning to impede the U.S. economy as a whole, a new report from the New York Federal Reserve suggests, chiefly by robbing the housing market of its richest crop of new buyers: young college graduates.

The statistics in the report are dismaying in themselves. With the number of borrowers approaching 40 million nationally, including more than 40 percent of 25-year-olds, the average balance on their loans has risen to $25,000. About 6.7 million of all student borrowers, or 17 percent, are delinquent on their payments three months or more.

“Delinquent student loan borrowers have a very difficult time accessing credit and the share of those borrowers is greater today than in the past,” said Donghoon Lee, a senior economist for the New York Fed and one of the authors of the report.

(Read MoreStudent Debt Climbs as Credit Gets Tighter)

For the average homeowner, the worst news is that these overleveraged and defaulting young borrowers are no longer qualify for other kinds of loans — particularly home loans. In 2005, nearly nine percent of 25- to 30-year-olds with student debt were granted a mortgage. By late last year, that percentage, as an annual rate, was down to just above four percent.

The most precipitous drop was among those who owe $100,000 or more. New mortgages among these more deeply indebted borrowers have declined 10 percentage points, from above 16 percent in 2005 to a little more than 6 percent today.

“These are the people you’d expect to buy big houses,” said student loan expert Heather Jarvis. “They owe a lot because they have a lot of education. They have been through professional and graduate schools, but their payments are so significant, they have trouble getting a mortgage. They have mortgage-sized loans already.”


For years, economists and student advocates warned that the greater debt load would have an adverse impact on graduates’ borrowing power. Now the statistical evidence is mounting. Last month, a Pew Research Center survey found that the share of millennials who own their homes had fallen from 40 percent to 34 percent during the recession, with a similar decline in residential debt.

Everyone has had a harder time qualifying for a mortgage since credit standards tightened in 2008, of course. And it could be that younger people suddenly prefer renting (or living at home). But by looking at mortgage originations, the New York Fed’s report ties college graduates’ lack of home ownership more directly to borrowing woes.

The implications for the housing market are serious. The number of first-time homebuyers, more than half of whom are aged 25 to 34, has been shrinking since the recession struck, and young buyers now make up their smallest share of the housing market in more than a decade.

(Read MoreFour Ways to Make Your Tax Refund Pay You Back)

In February, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asked private lenders to suggest options for relief of student loan borrowers. “They are increasingly concerned about the effect of student debt on household formation to see if there’s anything they can do to thaw the marketplace,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the financial aid website

But existing efforts to prevent delinquency on federally backed loans — such as basing the size of borrowers’ payments on their income — have sometimes made getting a mortgage more difficult. “It confuses the mortgage process,” said Jarvis. “Income-driven programs do help them afford a home and ought to make them more creditworthy, but they have not communicated well.”

The best fix for everyone would be a faster growing economy, which would provide jobs and higher incomes to those who have borrowed. Until then, Jarvis sees the average college grads’ situation as a Catch-22. “If you don’t prioritize your student loan debt you won’t be able to get credit in the future,” she said, “and if you do pay it, you won’t be able to afford anything else.”

Courtesy of your Arcadia Real Estate Agent

Realtors warn of online rental scams

Monday, November 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES (KABC) – Want to live by the Pacific Ocean? In Marina del Rey, a two-bedroom condo can set you back $3,000 per month or more. One listing on Craigslist, however, shows one for just $840 per month, fully furnished with parking included.


Beverly Hills is one of the most expensive places to live in the entire nation, so one three-bedroom home described on Craigslist ad as a “beautifully, maintained, country-English” home looks like a screaming for $800 per month. In a different ad, another Beverly Hills property goes for $950, including utilities.

So how can this be?

Rafael Renderos, a realtor from Torrance, frequently comes across fraudulent lease and rental listings like one he found in Beverly Hills. The home leases for nearly $5,800 per month, about seven times the price listed on Craigslist. A scammer reposted pictures from the legitimate ad on Craigslist. The fake listing even included a warning that said “Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally.”

“Scammers, will go off of the MLS or any other site out there that is listing properties for lease,” Renderos said. “They will just copy and paste the address, photos – and that’s it.”

When Renderos responded to the Craigslist ad, he received an email containing a rent application from a man who claims he’s the property owner. The man said he works as the marketing manager of Shell petroleum in Nigeria. The man said was looking for responsible tenants to take care of his house because Shell transferred him to company headquarters in Nigeria for the next four years.

As with many scams, the letter asked for an upfront deposit of $1,000.

We found a listing for a home on a quiet, tree-lined street on Mount Olympus in the Hollywood Hills. Last year, the home sold for more than $1.1 million. On the realtor’s website, it highlights a kitchen with granite countertops, designer bathroom and lush pool. However, on Craigslist there’s an ad for the very same home with the same pictures, but not the same price.

“The actual rent on this property is about $7,000 per month,” Renderos said.

On Craigslist, it was advertised at $8,000.

Renderos said the scammers use several tactics to hide their identities. They rarely list a contact phone number. Also, they ask for money up front as a deposit, often requesting a Western Union money transfer, which can’t be traced. And the key to the home that’s promised in exchange for the deposit money never arrives. The scammers keep the money.

“You can see that they’ve put a lot of verbiage on it,” Renderos said. “They use very small font.”

Fullerton Police Capt. Lorraine Jones said scammers are tough to catch because they often leave no paper trail and many live in another country.

“With so many people renting properties these days instead of owning them, the criminal element is picking up on that and they’re increasing their target population,” Jones said.

Several months ago, scammers posted an ad on Craigslist luring victims to a Hollywood apartment. One woman paid a deposit of more than $1,300 for the rental property. She was even given a key that turned out to be a fake. She later said her family was displaced by the scam.

In that incident, three people were arrested, but most scammers are never caught.

We contacted Craigslist seeking comment on this story, but the company never got back to us.

On its website, Craigslist offers this warning: “Do not rent housing without seeing the interior. In all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent.”

That’s the case with this three-bedroom Sunset Boulevard home. It’s described as a one of a kind getaway in Brentwood for $6,700 per month. In an ad on Craigslist, the same home, the same pictures, goes for just $1,200 per month.

While most rental and lease listings you find online are legitimate, you should never put down a deposit unless you’ve actually seen the property from the inside and outside. Never send deposit money through Western Union or mail it out of the country. You will probably never see that money again.


(Copyright ©2012 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)


As the sun rises, hundreds gather in Westchester to see Endeavour



As sun rises, hundreds gather in Westchester to see Endeavour

October 12, 2012 |  7:45 am

Crowds at shuttle
Early morning light bathed Endeavour’s weathered body in a pink glow Friday morning as more than 500 people, many from the neighborhood, gathered in a Westchester parking lot to catch a glimpse of the space shuttle on the first leg of its final journey.

A chattering crowd of hundreds converged at the intersection of Sepulveda Boulevard and La Tijera Boulevard. As the sun began to rise, some thrust phones into the air to snap a picture. Others stood on stepladders and folding chairs, hunting for any elevation gain that would give them a better view.

Other crowds spilled into local businesses along Sepulveda Boulevard, including a Coffee Co. facing south toward the shuttle’s parking spot. Owner Gus Kazemi, 56, pulled tables off a raised concrete platform at the entrance to the café, where more than two dozen people leaned over the metal railings toward the shuttle.

“I feel like a part of a larger community, not just the United States,” said Matthew Lucy, 34, who gathered with his wife, Katinka, and daughters Sofia, 6, and Madeleine, 4, inside the Coffee Co. café.

In the parking lot, crews were working to widen the computerized transporters carrying Endeavour so they can travel over medians on Manchester Boulevard.The shuttle will continue east down Manchester, passing into Inglewood city limits at Glasgow Avenue, where it will again stop for several hours for more power line work. There, crews will also move the orbiter onto the dolly system that will tow it over the 405 Freeway beginning about 10 p.m. Friday.As the crowd grew, onlookers stayed quiet and orderly behind the police barricades erected to create a boundary for the shuttle. Officials said the crowd had been orderly all night, but are concerned that as more people arrive during the day, the sizes could get unmanageable.

Sidewalks will remain closed for much of the remaining route, said Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Bowman.

“We just said, ‘Let’s keep it open, let people enjoy it,’ but we may not have that opportunity again,” Bowman said.

Many people wore hoodies and pajamas. Parents held hands with children wearing school uniforms and backpacks, stopping to see the shuttle on the way to school.

“When else do you get to see something like this in your own backyard?” said Jennie DiPaolo, 49, whose two sons, Luke and Matthew, were wearing red St. Anastasia Catholic School sweat shirts. “We can go see it in the museum, but this is our neighborhood. We drive by here every day.”

– Christine Mai-Duc and Andrew Khouri in Westchester

Photo: Folks gathered on the corner of Westchester Parkway and McConnell Avenue on Friday to see the space shuttle Endeavour leaving LAX for the streets of Westchester. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times.





When I was younger, I often fantasized about being locked in school overnight. While I was never very gung ho about school during the day (you could often find me doodling away during math class), there was something oddly alluring about the idea of having the whole place to myself. I imagined strolling around deserted corridors, drawing murals on the chalkboards, climbing ropes in the gym and wreaking havoc in the auditorium. Sometimes this fantasy extended beyond the idea of being stuck in school to actually living there. School never particularly caught my fancy as a place of education, but as a place for living? By golly — it was palatial! I would sometimes express my living-in-school fantasy to friends, but nobody seemed to share my enthusiasm. “Why on earth would you want to spend any more time at school than you need to?”, they would ask. Still, the idea never really left my mind. Today, I still wonder what it would be like to buy an old, crumbling schoolhouse and turn it into anactual house. Luckily, in recent years, I haven’t had to imagine. Across the country, developers have been turning old elementary and high schools into apartments and even hotels. Here’s a quick roundup of some notable ones! — Max

The Oak School Lofts, Buffalo

Built in 1915, the building at 362 Oak Street in downtown Buffalo, NY, housed Buffalo’s Alternative High School until 2004. After the school shut down, Rocco Termini, a visionary developer responsible for rejuvenating many of Buffalo’s forgotten spaces, took over the property and converted it into loft spaces. Although the lofts at the Oak School are luxurious (many feature gas fireplaces and plasma televisions), efforts were taken to preserve the look and feel of the building’s original purpose. Many of the classroom-converted apartments still have their original chalkboards, hardwood maple floors, ceiling molding and giant 5 x 10 windows. Additionally, the public spaces of the building have been lovingly renovated to their more or less original state. When one enters the building, one gets the sneaking sense that they are actually at school — original water fountains and bookshelves populate the halls, and frosted windowpanes on apartment doors still have their classroom numbers emblazoned on them. According to Jason Termini, Rocco’s son, the goal of repurposing such gems is to combat suburban sprawl and bring life back to the urban center. “You don’t throw out a person when they get old,” he says, “so why a building?” Above images courtesy of Jill Greenberg and Oak Street Lofts.

Kennedy School Hotel, Portland

Like the Oak School Lofts in Buffalo, the Kennedy School in Portland opened its doors to students in 1915. Over the course of the 20th century, the school pulled double duty after hours, serving as a public meeting hall, polling place, blood donation center and weekend playground. Unfortunately, the school was forced to shut its doors in 1975 due to lowered enrollment and disrepair. Heartbroken, community activists petitioned to preserve the school and ultimately saved it. In 1997, McMenamins, a local hospitality group dedicated to repurposing old buildings, converted it into one of Portland’s most unique destinations. With 57 guest rooms (many with classroom features still intact), a couch-filled movie theater, its own brewery, soaking pool and charm to spare, the Kennedy School hotel is the perfect home away from home.

5736 NE 33rd Ave, Portland, OR. Above photos courtesy of Liz Devine and McMenamins.

Old St. Francis School Hotel, Bend, OR

Also owned by McMenamins, the Old St. Francis School Hotel was built in 1936 and was originally a Catholic schoolhouse. Today, the school’s classrooms have been converted into lodging spaces, and the hotel boasts dozens of unconventional amenities such as a pub, a bakery, a brewery, a movie theater and a majestic soaking pool with delightful arabesque features.

700 NW Bond St., Bend, OR. Above photos courtesy of Liz Devine and McMenamins.

Above images: 279 Sterling Place and 205 Warren Street in Brooklyn, both old schoolhouses converted into lofts and condos.


While this post focuses on just three school-to-living-space conversions, there are dozens more where these came from. All over, it seems, developers are feeling the itch to go back to school and are turning once abandoned local treasures into rejuvenated homes. Here are a few more notable conversions:



America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods

America's Best Hipster Neighborhoods

Want to roll out of bed and pick up a cup of single-origin java from a coffee shop on your corner? Or grab a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich from a food truck parked down the street? Does a dream weekend include foraging for organic veggies at a farmers market and watching the latest hot indie band play on a small stage through the wee hours of the morning? Then, my hipster friend, Los Angeles’ Silver Lake is the neighborhood for you.

Silver Lake takes the top spot on Forbes’ inaugural list of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods. Nestled between Echo Park and Los Feliz, the trendy community boasts some of the nation’s most lauded food trucks and farmers markets, a multicultural blend of residents with eclectic professions, and a booming arts scene. Even the buildings exude an avant garde aesthetic a hipster could love: Silver Lake is home to some of the most celebrated modernist architecture in the country, including Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House and John Lautner’s Silvertop.

“It is amazing how many artists, musicians and designers and more traditionally ‘hipster’ occupations live in Silver Lake,” says Dabney Lawless, a vice president of, a private social network for neighborhoods. “It just blows every other neighborhood away.” In other words, if you want to slurp Pabst Blue Ribbon in your skinny jeans, you won’t be alone.

Merriam-Webster somewhat vaguely defines a “hipster” as “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns.”  While what exactly qualifies someone as a hipster may be up for debate, to compile our list, we took a quantitative approach to determining the 20 places in which hipsterdom is most likely to flourish.

The San Francisco-based startup Nextdoor.comhelped us dig through data on more than 250 neighborhoods in the biggest U.S. cities. We assessed each area’s walkability according; the number of neighborhood coffee shops per capita (with some help from NPD Group’s report); the assortment of local food trucks (and their ranking according to Zagat’s); the number and frequency of farmers markets; the selection of locally owned bars and restaurants; and the percentage of residents who work in artistic occupations. We also factored in Nextdoor’s Neighborhood “Hipness” Index, which is based on how often words associated with hipness (for example art, gallery, designer, musician) appeared on each Nextdoor neighborhood’s site pages, and Nextdoor conducted a survey in which members sounded off on their communities.

Silver Lake is followed closely in second place by another Golden State hotspot, San Francisco’s Mission District. The city’s oldest neighborhood boasts a bevy of mom-and-pop eateries and watering holes, thrift shops and galleries. And artists here like to leave their mark: the Mission has the highest concentration of street murals in the city,according to the San Francisco Travel Association.  Lawless notes that rents are lower in the Mission than many other city neighborhoods, making it “a great neighborhood for young trendsetters.”

In third place is the unofficial East Coast birthplace of hipsterism, Williamsburg. The Brooklyn enclave has it all: coffee shops, food trucks, nightlife, farmers markets, restaurants, boutiques and a gaggle of artsy residents sporting Keds sneakers and idiosyncratic tattoos.

Gallery: America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods

Williamsburg may have spawned the hipster craze, but the neighborhood is evolving in a direction that’s far less hospitable to the patchily employed, fedora-wearing crowd.  “The more successful neighborhoods like Williamsburg become in attracting people, the real estate prices go up and a lot of the urban pioneers end up moving on,” says David Morley, a research associate with theAmerican Planning Association, a nonprofit educational group for community developers.

Real estate prices in the north Brooklyn neighborhood have been steadily rising, says Justin Daly, a Williamsburg-based realtor with MNS. His firm reports that Williamsburg rents in July were 23% higher than a year ago. More interesting, as of June, the mean rent for a studio apartment in Williamsburg was $200 higher than for a comparable (albeit smaller) apartment in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, according to the firm’s research. It has led to a slight exodus of artists and a new influx of families.

Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District, which has been undergoing urban renewal since the 2000s, has a similar migration tale to tell.  The neighborhood, currently hosting MTV’s latest edition of “The Real World,” is No. 5 on our list thanks to its intense caffeination (it has the second-highest concentration of coffee shops of neighborhoods on our list), a flourishing foodie culture, and a colorful collection of art spaces. As gentrification progresses, some hipsters are fleeing the rising costs of new high-rise condos and warehouse-to-loft conversions for the less established (and less pricey) Mississippi Ave and the Alberta Arts District neighborhoods. (Probably the MTV reality show doesn’t help either.)

In fourth place on our list is Chicago’s Wicker Park. Morley, a Wicker Park resident himself, touts its easy transit access, range of housing types, variety of shopping and services, and lively streetscape that affords a high degree of social interaction.  “I love being able to do my shopping in the neighborhood and being able to see lots of people in the streets.”

Gallery: America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods


Olympics social media: Get as connected as the rings for 2012 Games

Olympic FacesThe International Olympic Committee is enhancing its social media hub to include Instagram photos from the Olympic Village (IOC / July 19, 2012)
By Michelle MaltaisJuly 19, 2012, 1:20 p.m.

This summer’s Olympics will be more connected than the five rings of its emblem. It’s on Twitter,FacebookGoogle+, Instagram (@Olympics) and foursquare.

And the International Olympic Committee is building up an Olympic Village online by integrating these social media to help connect a worldwide audience with the athletes in the London 2012 Games.

“When I went to the Games for the first time it was back in Barcelona in 1992—those games had an internal email system, and it was groundbreaking,” six-time Olympic British archer Allison Williamson told a press conference unveiling the hub. “In London, I will be sharing photos of the Athletes’ Village and other fun things.”

Through the IOC’s Olympic Athletes’ Hub, you can virtually enter the exclusive Olympic Village to connect with your favorite competitor’s Facebook and Twitter profiles, get Instagram portraits of the athletes and chat directly with a featured athlete in a Twitter #asknathlete Q&A.

“Social media has been a great way to connect with fans and share not just my stories but the stories of other amazing people and athletes,” said South African Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius at the press conference. “I am truly blessed and thrilled to be participating in the 2012 London Olympics and look forward to sharing my Olympic experiences with the social media community and inspiring young athletes to do amazing things.”

Since we all like to pretend we are as informed as the judges, the IOC will soon launch the Olympic Challenge in the Athletes’ Hub, a social game that lets fans compete to predict the outcome of various Olympic events and see how they rank on the leaderboard against their friends and fans around the world.

Photos from various angles of the events will be available on Tumblr: an aggregation of existing social feeds, live from inside the Village with the Instagram portraitsGetty Images shots as well as shots and commentary on the fashion scene.

Enjoy the Games! -



Council Unanimously Approves Park Smoking Ban

Ordinance bans smoking at parks, city-sponsored events and recreation areas, with the exception of the Par-3 Golf Course.

By Connie K. Ho

The Arcadia City Council has unanimously passed a ban on smoking in parks and recreation areas, with the exception of the Par-3 Golf Course. The ordinance follows a report by the American Lung Association that gave Arcadia an “F” grade in air quality.

“I think that it’s great,” Arcadia resident Jenny Chou said of the ban. “A lot of children use the parks and recreational areas and it’s unfair to expose them to second-hand smoke. I think it’s better for the environment, better for our air quality.”

The City Council first directed the staff to prepare an ordinance prohibiting tobacco use in city parks and recreation areas at the March 6 meeting.

The ordinance would cost an estimated $6,000 for the manufacture and installation of signs at each location where smoking would be prohibited, city officials said.

Other cities in the San Gabriel Valley have also prohibited smoking in recreation areas, including Alhambra, El Monte, Monterey Park, South Pasadena and Temple City.



I’ll Have Another Has a Chance at the First Triple Crown Since 1978!

I’ll Have Another has a chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978!

Adapted from a Santa Anita Park press release.

Tickets on Sale Now for BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS at Santa Anita Park

Adapted from a Santa Anita Park press release.

ARCADIA, Calif. (June 4, 2012) – The Breeders’ Cup and Santa Anita Park today announced that tickets are now on sale to the general public for this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Friday, November 2 and Saturday, November 3. This is the sixth time that that Santa Anita will host the event and the third time under the two-day Championship format, which will begin on Friday with a 10-race program. Saturday’s card will include 12 races and will finish with the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at approximately 5:30 p.m. PT.

The 29th Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global event, consists of 15 races with purses and awards totaling more than $25 million.

The 2009 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita featured some of the greatest moments in racing history as more than 96,000 fans were in attendance over the two-day event, climaxed by super mare Zenyatta becoming the first female ever to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

This year, fans will be able to purchase Breeders’ Cup tickets in two ways:

Fans may log on to the Web at to access the online ticket system, which allows purchasers to view seat locations and buy their tickets in a fast, efficient manner. Those without online access or in need of assistance may purchase tickets by telephone by calling toll-free at 1 877-910-9511.

Due to the success of the recently concluded pre-sale, most premium areas have already been sold; however, excellent seats are available in Grandstand Reserved, Turf Club box seating and Dining. Among the ticketing options for this year’s Championships are:

Ticket prices for reserved seats on Championship Friday range from $40-$250 and on Championship Saturday from $75-$300. There are also bundled two-day packages available for Grandstand Reserved seats, Turf Club box seating and premium dining experiences.

All fans purchasing reserved seating (Grandstand, Clubhouse and Turf Club) will receive free track programs on both Friday and Saturday upon entering the racetrack.

Fans will have the option to purchase single seats within a Turf Club Box and in the following Dining areas: Sirona’s Paddock View Dining and Clockers’ Corner Trackside Dining. ·

General Admission print-at-home tickets will go on sale beginning October 1. Fans will receive a 25% discount on general admission prices by purchasing their tickets in advance and online. The online price for Championship Friday will be $10. General Admission online price on Championship Saturday is $15. General admission prices at the gate on Championship Friday will be $15 and $20 on Championship Saturday.

Breeders’ Cup and Santa Anita Park have enlisted QuintEvents as its official provider of fan experience packages. Fans will be able to select from packages that include Friday & Saturday Championships tickets and private hospitality with celebrity jockey ‘meet and greet’ opportunities and add-on such enhancements as: parties, ground transportation and hotels. Log on to or call 866-834-8663 for more information.

“Together with our host, Santa Anita Park, we look forward to another outstanding experience for our fans from around the globe attending the Breeders’ Cup to enjoy the most spectacular two-days of racing at one of the world’s most remarkable racetracks,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO. “We were delighted with the record turnout in 2009 and encourage fans to take advantage of the new seating options available this year.”

“This is an exciting time for all of us at Santa Anita and we’re happy to be able to begin selling tickets on June 4 for the two-day Breeders’ Cup in November,” said Santa Anita President George Haines. “I’ve been a part of every Breeders’ Cup dating back to 1986 and they’ve all been tremendous successes.

We’re hopeful this year’s event is going to be our best ever and we look forward to once again welcoming our fans and horsemen from all over the world to what we believe is the most beautiful venue in all of racing. The Best is Certainly Yet to Come.”

About Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2012 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 15 races and purses totaling more than $25 million will be held Nov. 2-3 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Network. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Area Locals Do Well at CIF Track & Field State Meet in Clovis!

HIGH SCHOOLS: South Pasadena’s Kieffer-Wright jumps to state title

By Miguel A. Melendez, SGVN
Posted:   06/02/2012 11:27:04 PM PDT

South Pasadena’s Claire Kieffer-Wright wins the high jump at Saturday’s CIF-SS State meet in Clovis. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)

CLOVIS – The drought, albeit a short one, is over.

For the first time in two years, South Pasadena High School’s Claire Kieffer-Wright is bringing home a CIF State track and field championship thanks to a gutsy performance in the high jump in front of 7,123 at Buchanan High School.

Kieffer-Wright, a sophomore, made giant strides since narrowly qualifying for the state prelims at the Masters Meet on May 25 as she hit the winning mark of 5 feet, 10 inches. She is the first West Valley state track champion since Sam Pons, now running at Princeton, won the 3,200 meters two years ago for South Pasadena.

In a show of true perseverance, Kieffer-Wright wasn’t deterred despite missing the opening jump of 5-3.

“It was really nerve-wracking missing my first attempt,” she said. “I was a little shaky but I knew I had to compete. That’s the main thing in the high jump besides form and technique, to be able to brush off mistakes and be mentally tough.”

After clearing the winning mark, Kieffer-Wright opted to continue and made an attempt at clearing 6-0 3/4, the qualifying mark for the Olympic trials “B” standard. Kieffer-Wright made two attempts and ended there because of back problems, but the mere fact she had the opportunity to do so showed how much she’s accomplished in just one year.

The East Valley also had a representative sitting atop the podium as Damien’s Jarrett Gonzales won the state title in the 300 hurdles with a mark of 37.30 seconds.

Gonzales made quite a turnaround, from not even reaching the Sierra League finals because of an injury to ending a decorated career as state champion.

Gonzales said a gust of winds right off the blocks worried him a bit, but it wouldn’t be long before he hit his full stride.

“Coming off the last hurdle on the curve and just opening up my stride and sprinting all the way through,” Gonzales said when asked when he felt the race was his.

He didn’t break a personal mark, but the UCLA-bound Gonzales said it was an amazing accomplishment. He pulled a left hamstring and rolled his left ankle in a meet before the start of league his junior season.

“I had an opportunity to run at the world youth trials,” Gonzales said. “I asked my coach and he said I should recover and rehabilitate.”

The move paid dividends.

In the same race, Diamond Ranch’s Andrew Fischer finished ninth with a time of 38.35.

Maranatha’s Ebony Crear accomplished her goal of reaching the state finals in the 100 hurdles. She finished seventh in 14.18.

Crear, the sophomore daughter of two-time Olympic medalist Mark Crear, almost didn’t finish the race.

“The third hurdle I hit it with my right leg and buckled,” she said.

“But I’m just happy I was able to recuperate and keep going. Just do my best because I hit the hurdle.”

In the 400, Arcadia’s Alex McElwee finished seventh with a time of 48.86 while San Marino’s Kyle Ezold, in his first year running track, came in eighth at 49.50.

Bonita sophomore Nikki Wheatley finished eighth in the triple jump with a mark of 37-8 3/4.

La Salle’s Daniel De La Torre got off to a strong start in the 1,600, but it all went wrong 800 meters into the race.

“My muscles started tightening up,” he said.

De La Torre was visibly disappointed with the result, a ninth-place finish in 4:16.38, but he bounced back strong in the 3,200, the final event of the night. He finished fourth with a time of 9:06.60. Arcadia’s Sergio Gonzalez, who scratched from the 1,600 preliminaries, finished fifth at 9:10.46.

De La Torre was about a minute off his personal mark, and though he earned a medal and a spot at the podium it wasn’t enough to bring a smile to his face.

“Whoever aspired to be fourth … not very satisfying for me,” he said. “I never aspire to be that. I use my failures to succeed and help me next year. I plan on winning state next year for cross country and track I want it more than I want to breathe.”

De La Torre, in his first real year of track after several injuries his sophomore year, finished third at the state cross country meet last year.

“I just have a lot more to prove,” he said. “I’ll prove myself next year.”

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