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State Prep Track and Field : Chapel May Face Different Rival This Time in 800-Meter Final

If all goes as expected, Laura Chapel will face a longtime rival in the finals of the 800 meters at the state track and field meet Saturday.

No, Chapel will not be running against Grossmont High School’s Darcy Arreola, against whom she has run numerous exciting races in the last two years. But a race against Maggie Henson of Newport Harbor could be just as close.

Chapel, also one of the best cross-country runners in the nation, was beaten badly by Henson earlier this season at the Mt. San Antonio College Invitationl cross-country meet. Arreola, whose time in the 800 is the third fastest in the state, decided this week to drop the 800 to concentrate on her favorite race, the 1,600. But Chapel will try to qualify for both the 800 and the 1,600 today at the state meet trials at Cerritos College in Norwalk. The first field event begins at 11 a.m.; the first race at 5 p.m.

Running against Henson is nothing new for Chapel. She lived in Irvine before moving to San Diego and University City High School before her junior year. She raced against Henson several times during her freshman and sophomore years.

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“We were pretty big rivals our freshman and sophomore years,” Chapel said. “She’d beat me and then I’d come back and beat her. She didn’t take up the half (mile) until this year, but her times are right down there.”

Chapel will not run against Henson today because the two are in separate heats. But she said it will be close if they meet in the finals.

“In a way it will be tougher without Darcy,” Chapel said. “I know how Darcy runs. Now I’ll be running against a bunch of girls who have run against each other all year and know how each other runs. But I’ve got to run my own race and stay confident.”

If Henson should beat Chapel in the 800, at least Chapel could have another shot at her in the 1,600. Of course, Chapel will have to face Arreola in the 1,600 as well.

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Chapel beat Arreola in the 800 at the San Diego Section finals May 29, but Arreola won the 1,600 with a national-best time of 4:47.98. Chapel was the national leader in the 1,600 earlier this year when she ran 4:50.14 at the Arcadia Invitational.

But several other runners could win. Laurie Champman of San Jose Gunderson has run 4:48.7, the second best in the country, and defending champion Shannon Clark of Mountain View has run 4:51.7. Henson’s best is 4:53.02.

Besides Chapel, the section’s hopes for a double winner will depend on Tracy Crawford of Southwest and Brian Boggess of El Capitan.

Crawford won the shotput with a section-record throw of 45 feet 3/4-inch. Crawford also won the discus with a 155-1, a meet record and third best in the nation this year.

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In the shotput, Crawford trails Brandi Gail of Rowland, who has thrown 47-4 3/4, but beat national discus leader Lori Parker of Ramona (162-0) in the section finals. Parker was second.

Boggess threw a personal-best 191-3 at the section preliminaries, only a foot behind state leader Jeff Hooper of Del Campo. Boggess’ best chance is in the shotput, where he threw a state-leading 60-3 1/2 last Thursday.

Mark Dani of Valhalla looked to be the favorite in the 3,200 early in the season, when he ran away from twins Mark and Eric Mastalir at the Michelob Invitational with a time of 8:49.1. Dani had been in a slump, but he ran impressively at the section finals. Despite having to pace himself, Dani’s time was 8:54.96. Eric Mastalir is the top qualifier with a best of 8:48.55.

Junior Jackie Anderson of Mount Miguel was considered a contender in three events early this year, but now her best hope is the triple jump. Anderson, who finished second in the state as a sophomore, has leaped 40-3. But she finished third at the section finals with a best of 37-0, behind freshman LaFrania West of Grossmont.

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