April 23, 2008
Call it the "Incredible Shrinking Track."
In a blunder of major proportions, a new track at Contreras High in downtown Los Angeles measures out at 390 meters -- 10 meters short of its designed length.
Runners who thought their 400-meter times were real impressive will have to take a second look.
"Surprising wasn't the word," Athletic Director Rose Low said when asked about her reaction to the flaw. "I almost passed out."
Contreras opened in 2006 but the school didn't have a track and field team until this season, when concerns were raised.
Low brought in Hal Harkness, long-time track administrator and former City Section commissioner, to examine the track. He determined after two measurements that it was only 390 meters.
The dirt track had already lost some of its luster when, because of space limitations, six lanes were created instead of the usual eight.
The failure to produce a 400-meter oval has school officials backing up the starting line by 10 meters for dual meets, but it will prevent Contreras from playing host to league finals.
"The construction people were given the specs," Principal Heather Daims said.
There's lots of football talent leaving Los Angeles, thanks to the recruiting efforts of Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. In the last two years, he has picked up five players from the San Fernando Valley-Ventura County area.
The latest is Oxnard Santa Clara running back Cierre Wood, who committed Saturday. It's no wonder Weis is coming to town May 8 to speak to the Notre Dame club of Ventura County.
UCLA football Coach Rick Neuheisel said his son, Jerry, who will be a sophomore quarterback this fall, is expected to enroll at Los Angeles Loyola.
That could produce an interesting USC-UCLA rivalry, since Loyola sophomore linebacker Nick Holt is the namesake of his father, USC's defensive coordinator.
Anaheim Servite football Coach Troy Thomas is ready to unveil his secret weapon this spring: Kirifi Taula, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound sophomore defensive lineman who sat out last season after transferring from Orange Lutheran.
Asked whether USC had already offered Taula a scholarship, Thomas said, "They haven't, but they should."
Woodland Hills Taft is about to get some star power from incoming freshmen basketball players.
Set to join the varsity this summer are Landon Drew, brother of All-American Larry Drew Jr. and the son of the ex-NBA player, and Jason Kidd Jr., the son of the Dallas Mavericks' future NBA Hall of Famer.
The two are good friends who have played travel ball together.
The Fairfax spring league begins Monday night at Fairfax, allowing fans to get a look at the state's No. 1 college basketball prospect for 2009, 6-10 center Renardo Sidney, who is scheduled to play in a 6 p.m. game against La Canada.
UCLA, USC, Texas and Arizona State are the recruiting leaders for Sidney, who still must take the SAT.
Santa Monica plays Pasadena at 7 p.m., followed by Taft against Encino Crespi at 8 p.m. On May 12, it's Fairfax against Taft at 6 p.m. in a rematch of the City final.
For two years, outfielder Kelly Dugan of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame was supposed to emerge as a top baseball player, but he kept getting injured.
He fractured an elbow trying to make a diving catch as a freshman, then injured an arm as a sophomore. Each time he was lost for the season.
Finally, in this, his junior season, he has been injury free and living up to his potential. He's batting .436.
"We knew it was there all along," Coach Tom Dill said. "It was just keeping him on the field."
Dugan's father, Dennis, is one of Hollywood's top directors and had a starring role in one of Dill's favorite 1970s TV series, "The Rockford Files."
"The first time I met him, I was all excited," Dill recalled. "I said, 'You were Richie Brockelman, who helped out Rockford,' and Kelly rolled his eyes."
Shon Roe, a senior shortstop at Quartz Hill who signed with Loyola Marymount, had four home runs, plus a two-run triple, and finished with 12 runs batted in during a 25-0 victory over Littlerock last week.
"It was pretty awesome," Roe said. "I couldn't believe it."
Roe hadn't hit a home run all season, but he hit for the home run cycle, getting solo, two-run and three-run homers and a grand slam.
"It was all a blur," he said.
There aren't many seniors having a better baseball season than Chris Smith of Compton Centennial.
His stats are stunning: a .763 batting average with 10 home runs and 19 stolen bases.
"He's amazing," Coach Gerald Pickens said.
Carson has hired former Los Angeles Dorsey defensive coordinator Ralph Caldwell to the same position. Caldwell didn't coach the last two seasons after spending 13 years at Dorsey, where he was known for developing All-City linebackers.
The athletic department at North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake has created "Sleep Week," starting Monday.
"We're trying to raise the importance of sleep," said Audrius Barzdukas, head of athletics.
There's a pajamas day, another day to bring a pillow and another day when "you come dressed as your favorite G-rated dream."
"We're trying to make our whole world a little healthier because we treasure and value sleep as an integral part of the human experience," Barzdukas said.
Basketball standout Renaldo Woolridge plans to show up in his SpongeBob pajamas.
"I'll go all out," he said.
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