Knee injury sidelines CA 1600m champ Jacqueline Duarte


This article was updated to add detail at 10/22 at 4:55 pm.


Jacqueline Duarte, California's reigning 1600-meter champion, suffered a knee injury over the weekend that will require surgery and sideline her for the remainder of her 2019-20 athletic season.

Duarte, a junior at Chino Hills, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament while playing for her academy soccer team, Chino Hills track coach Richard Morales confirmed Tuesday. 

"Surgery is planned for the first week of November but one more meeting is necessary with the doctors," Morales wrote in an email. "Plans are to not compete this spring in track; to plan for her senior year in XC and track.

"No concrete plans will be set until all factors have been established after surgery."

"While Jacqui is disappointed she won't be able to complete the rest of the XC season as well as Track, she is in good spirits," wrote Chino Hills cross country coach Kimberly Kreiss in an email. "As (Coach Morales) said, the plan is to have a slow and deliberate rehabilitation in order to insure that Jacqui can come back strong for her senior year."

Duarte is a high level soccer player who received a partial offer to Oregon as a sophomore, Morales noted. Duarte has continued to play soccer while her star has been skyrocketing on the track. 

Duarte started running as a freshman, winning the Southern Section Division 1 championship for 1600m and placing third in the 1600m at the State Meet as one of three from the 2021 class to medal in that race.

A specialist in the four-lap race, Duarte possesses a devastating kick and tremendous strength at the close of races. That was on full display last May when she closed strong to win the State Meet title with a 4:42.58 PR that ranked No. 1 for CA, No. 5 in the U.S. and No. 1 U.S. in the class of 2021.

She won 11 of 12 races at 1600m last season, including defense of her CIF-SS D1 title. The only non-victory was at State Meet prelims where she qualified fifth. She also put her speed on display in the 800m, winning her first nine races at that distance last year, including a 2:11.66 PR to win the CIF-SS Division 1 title. That time ranked CA No. 12 overall and is No. 7 among returning girls for this season.


On the track this spring, with Duarte out of the picture, the girls 1600 field has no shortage of young talent. Pasadena Mayfield junior Audrey Suarez and Sun Valley Village Christian junior Mia Barnett have each medaled at the State Meet the past two years. Last year's State Championships field also included a trio of 2023s, now sophomores, in Rancho Bernardo's Jacey Farmer, Granada Hills Charter's Sofia Abrego and Anaheim Canyon's Emma Hadley

On the cross country course, Duarte was fourth as a sophomore in the Southern Section Division 1 race and placed 15th at the State Meet with a 5K personal record of 18:04.30.

So far this season in limited racing, Duarte has a 3-mile best of 17:01.40 from the season-opening Cool Breeze Invitational. That time ranks ninth in the state for girls in Division I. Just over a week ago, Duarte ran at the the Inland Empire Challenge, a 3-miler over the Glen Helen Park course, where she crossed in 17:53.6, the second-fastest time for girls at the meet. 

Without Duarte, Coach Kreiss's Huskies looking to lead and try to fill the void include senior captain Lauren Jauregui, sophomore Karis Brown, freshman Jenna Gallegos and perhaps even freshman Isabella 'Bella' Duarte, Jacqui's sister.

"(Jauregui), our only senior on varsity, has been just as big as a pillar to the team as Jacqui," Kreiss wrote. "She has been keeping the morale up and reminding the younger runners on our varsity team that the season is not over and that they are still a strong team."

A database rankings for Southern Section Division 1 teams for 3 miles slots Chino Hills No. 5 with Jacqueline Duarte's season best time included. Without her, the team's 1-5 split drops about 20 seconds but the average team time increases by more than 23 seconds.  In the most recent Southern Section Top 25 Rankings produced by this site, Chino Hills ranked No. 12 among all girls teams and No. 6 among Division 1 programs.

The Huskies are scheduled to run in a Sweepstakes race this weekend at the Mt. SAC Invitational. 

"I know that while the girls would love to have Jacqui running with them, they are out to show that they are still a strong team," Kreiss said. "They are still working hard with hopes of running throughout November. We have a young team, we will have 6 of our 7 runners returning next year, so their experience throughout this season will only add extra motivation and continuous development for the next year." 


The story was first reported by


Photos in this article are all from the final day of the State Track and Field Championships and are by, in top-bottom order, DeAnna Turner, Dan Tyree and Pat Rhames.