Watts Wins 200-Meter Dash, Leads Taft to State Track Title
Led by sophomore Quincy Watts, Taft became the first Valley team to win the boys title in the 68-year history of the CIF state track meet Saturday night at Cerritos College.
Watts won the 200 meters, finished second in the 100 and anchored the Taft 400-meter relay team to a second-place finish as the Toreadors scored 26 points to defeat Hiram Johnson High of Sacramento, which finished second with 25 points. Jesuit High of Sacramento finished third with 20 points followed by Madera and Katella, which finished tied for fourth with 18.
Pre-meet favorite Hawthorne easily won the girls title, scoring 40 points. Oakland finished second with 22 and Pomona and Compton tied for third with 20.
Also highlighting the meet were Angela Burnham of Rio Mesa, who won the 100-meter dash, and Rodney Bradshaw of Saugus, who won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
In the girls division, Van Nuys, led by Kelley Peacock, was the top Valley-area team, finishing in a tie for ninth with 14 points. Peacock finished second in the long jump and third in the 100-meter low hurdles. Her 19-2 1/2 effort in the long jump was a personal best while her 14.01 clocking in the hurdles was a season best.
Several other athletes turned in noteworthy performances.
Sophomore Desiree Joubert of Westlake finished third in the 800 meters in a personal best time of 2:09.62. Double-Los Angeles City champion Jerry Gilmore of Polytechnic finished third in the long jump with a clutch 23-5 personal best in the long jump.
C.J. Fisher of Notre Dame finished third with a personal best of 37.61 in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
Watts’ 200 victory was his first of the year over Ronald McCree of Madera. McCree had beaten Watts twice at the Arcadia Invitational in April and had also defeated the Taft sophomore in the 100 meters earlier Saturday. McCree ran 10.57, with Watts a close second in 10.59.
In the 200, Watts ran his best curve of the year and entered the straightaway ahead of McCree but behind Corey Ealy of Muir. However, Watt’s superior strength overtook the Muir senior and he won going away in 21.03. McCree finished second in 21.14 with Ealy third in 21.19.
Earlier in the day Watts had combined with teammates Sean Roberts, Monty Gilbreath and Curtis Hein for a second-place clocking of 41.58 in the 400-meter relay. Hiram Johnson, anchored by long jump champion Curtis Rogers, won in 41.30.
Following his win in the 200, the beaming Watts spoke about his performances. “I’m really happy to finally beat McCree. I thought I was capable of winning both races but he ran really tough in the 100.
“The team title feels great. It’s nice to be the first Valley team to win it.”
Taft coach Tom Stevenson couldn’t have been happier. “I’m really happy because our kids competed so well. This is the greatest thrill of my coaching career.”
Burnham had lost to rival Tami Stiles of Hawthorne in seven previous races this season. She won the most important one, however.
The Rio Mesa sprinter, 14, got off to a great start and was never seriously challenged by Stiles, the two-time state champion at 200 meters. Burnham’s 11.78 clocking missed her personal best by .01 seconds. Stiles finished second in 11.89.
The soft-spoken Burnham said she was a little surprised with the victory. “Before the race, I figured I had a good chance at finishing second. I kept waiting for her to come up on me in the last part of the race but she didn’t.”
Bradshaw used a sub-par performance by himself in the 110-meter high hurdles as motivation for his victory. Earlier in the day he had finished a disappointing fourth in the highs in 14.19, well off his personal best of 14.02.
But he came back strong in the intermediates, getting off to a good start and storming the final 100 meters.