Taft Expects to Have Enough Watts Today to Shock Its Rivals for the City Track Championship

This afternoon at Birmingham High, Taft will attempt to accomplish what no Valley-area team has done in 10 years. That is, win a City boys track and field team championship.

San Fernando was the last team from the Valley to win, back in 1976.

Taft is a slight favorite in what promises to be a tight team battle. Dorsey, University, Fremont, defending champion Belmont, Reseda, Poly and Locke are all capable of winning should the Toreadors falter.


Taft’s hopes rest with fast feet of Quincy Watts, a 15-year-old sophomore, who set a national sophomore record with a time of 20.97 for 200 meters last week.

Watts is strongly favored to win both the 100 and 200 meters. He will then team with Monty Gilbreath, Sean Roberts and Curtis Hein on Taft’s 400- and 1,600- meter relay teams, which are also favored to win. Taft has clocked a City-best 41.31 time in the 400 relay and had a time of 3:17.03 for the fastest 1,600 in the semifinals.

Taft will also need strong performances from pole vaulter Jay Borick and high jumper Kevin Franklin. Borick has a best of 14-3, while Franklin has jumped 6-8.

Reseda and Poly are two other Valley teams to watch in the boys meet.

Reseda will be led by sprinter Robert Barnes, who will compete in the 100 and 200 meters and is a member of a strong 400-meter relay team. Poly’s top athlete is Jerry Gilmore, who is entered in the long jump, triple jump and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles. He is also a member of a good Poly 1,600-meter relay team, which clocked 3:18.61 in the semifinals.

Distance runners Ian Alsen of Granada Hills and Humberto Quintana of Sylmar should also place high.

The meet championship could come down to the 1,600 meter relay--an event in which team leaders Taft, Locke, Poly, University, Dorsey and Fremont are all entered.

The girls meet doesn’t figure to be as close.

Two-time defending champion Locke, behind freshman sprinter LeAnn Tinkshell, is expected to once again take home the title. Tinkshell is a co-favorite in the 100 and 200 meters and will also run legs on both relay teams.

Crenshaw, University, Kennedy, Granada Hills, Van Nuys and Dorsey should fight it out for second place.

Two-time defending City champion Kelley Peacock is one of Van Nuys’ top performers. She is the favorite in the 100- and 300-meter low hurdles and the long jump. She is also entered in the 100.

Kim Crongeyer and Sherri Lawson, both sophomores, will lead Kennedy. Crongeyer’s 5:14.31 was the fastest time in the 1,600 last week, while Lawson’s 11:15.39 was best in the 3,200.

Kierstin Church of Granada Hills will battle Tinkshell for top sprint honors. Valeria Bongo of Granada Hills has been improving steadily from early season injuries and could surprise in the sprints.

Competition in the field events begins at 2:30, while running events start at 4:30.