Two unmistakable things about Janeene Vickers of Pomona High School:
--She is among the best hurdlers in the country.
--She has an admirable greed for trophies, or at least what they stand for.
So, the 17-year-old junior didn't have to think too hard before the 19th annual Arcadia Invitational Saturday night to decide what she wanted to accomplish. In the top regular-season prep track gathering of the year on the West Coast, one in which the top athletes from four states would be competing, she simply wanted to win the award as the girls' athlete of the meet.
"I don't think it's so much the trophy as the title," Vickers said. "Everyone who was my biggest competition from the past couple years has graduated. The question was, 'Can I come back and prove that I am the best runner in my events here?' "
The answer, in resounding fashion, was yes.
"Myself and my father were under the impression that it would take three golds to win it," she continued. "The 400 might hurt me, but hopefully the two hurdle races will be more than enough to make up for it.
Again, the answer was yes.
Vickers, although finishing second to Princess Bennett of Compton over 400 meters, set new national bests for 1986 in her specialties, the 100- and 300-meter low hurdles, on a cool night at Arcadia High School. And while that wasn't the three victories she had hoped for, it was still good enough to take home the girls' athlete of the meet award she wanted more than anything.
She started out by winning the 100 hurdles in 13.81, improving on her previous best of 14.02. Then came the tough part, running the 400 meters against Bennett, the third-place finisher in last year's State finals, and the 300 low hurdles with only about 20 minutes rest in between. It was the first time Vickers had run all three events in a major invitational this season.
Losing to Bennett is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, especially since the Compton star ran a 54.26 to set a national best for 1986 herself. But Vickers, admittedly tired, recovered from a slow start to go 43.41 in the hurdles, the capper on an outstanding evening.
Eric Mastalir of Sacramento Jesuit was named the top boys' athlete after winning the 3,200-meter race, one of the featured events of the competition. His time of 8:48.55 was good enough to beat twin brother Mark (8:51.99) and Daren Stonerock of Saugus (9:02.03) and to set a new national best for '86.
In the girls' 3,200, also one of the most anticipated races of the night, Newbury Park's Melissa Sutton ran 10:29.96, about 18 seconds better than her previous season best, to beat a field that included defending State champion Rebecca Chamberlain of San Jose Leigh and the current national leader for the year, Laurie Chapman of San Jose Gunderson. But in the end, it was Sutton out-sprinting Tracey Williams of El Monte Mountain View, who finished second in 10:30.58, to win, with Chapman third with a 10:34.09 and Chamberlain fourth in 10:45.35.