Those dark clouds that hung over Hughes Stadium early Saturday afternoon were an ominous sign, indeed, and soon some raindrops would be falling. Not long after, high hopes and batons were hitting the ground, too.
Even before night had fallen, the California high school track and field championships here had lost much of its thunder. To wit:
--Brent Burns of Lafayette Alcalanes, the No. 1 pole vaulter in the country with a best of 17 feet 5 1/2 inches, passed the first three tries to 16-2 . . . and no-heighted. So did Pat Alduenda from Ramona, who came in with the No. 2 mark in the state, making Steve Slocum of Santa Ana Foothill, who had dropped out at 15-6 and was sitting in the stands, the winner.
--The Woodland Hills Taft 400 relay team, which had the best time in the state, dropped the baton on a pass from the second to third leg. Pasadena Muir, with another nice final leg by Corey Ealy, won the race in 40.78 seconds, the new No. 1 time.
--The Pomona girls' relay team, No. 2 in its race, dropped the baton on a first-to-second pass, a move that came very close to burning the Red Devils' hopes for the team title. It may also have cost Janeene Vickers a chance to become the first person in California history to win six State championships.
The biggest dark cloud, however, was saved for the end. The L.A. Dorsey girls' team was disqualified in the 1,600 relay when Delena Zimmerman was red-flagged for throwing a baton after the end of the race, a highly controversial and hotly disputed decision that cost the Dons their share of the team title.
So, just when people had been wondering what was next in a meet that will long be remembered as an organizational and officiating fiasco, when the jury of appeals was busier than the starter, they got the answer--a championship decided by an unsportsmanlike call.
Pomona wasn't going to complain, however. The Dorsey dispute gave the title back to the Red Devils, who scored all 30 of their points on Vickers' wins, with Long Beach Poly next at 28 and the Dons at 22.
That's the official count, at least. Dorsey Coach Paul Knox, after taking his case to meet officials on the field and in the stands and hoping to include a home-made movie of the finish as evidence, took his team to the victory stand for a picture, anyway.
For the fourth time in five years, Hawthorne won the boys' team championship, with the Cougars' fifth consecutive win in the 1,600 relay the decider. Their 34 points held off Ealy and Muir (27), while Taft, with wins by Quincy Watts in the 100 and 200, and Simi Valley Royal, with a shotput-discus double by Dave Bultman, each scoring 20.
Clearly--and few things were clear in this two-day meet--Vickers was the standout individual. She won the 100 in 11.76, the 300 low hurdles in 40.96 and the 100 low hurdles in 13.34, the latter the fifth-best prep mark of all time.
The only thing left for her to conquer was sleep.
"It's not like I'm going to go home and party," she said. "I'm going to go home, go to Chuck E. Cheese's and go to sleep."
Bultman became only the third person since 1959 to win the shotput and discus.
And it was a dream-like heave of 67-0 that gave him the shotput title, a toss five feet better than his previous best.
Watts won the boys' 100 after finishing second last year as a sophomore, but it wasn't Ealy or Tony Miller of San Francisco Riordan that pushed him to a 10.49. That was Calvin Holmes of Carson, who pressed the best sprinter in the state for the second straight week.
"I saw him (Watts) coming," Holmes said. "I probably tried to lean too early. I should have run through the tape."
Holmes' 10.50 was his best legal mark of the year, while Ealy finished third in 10.58.
Prep Notes L.A. Locke was also disqualified in the girls' 1,600 relay, likewise for throwing a baton. The Saints, the City champions, had finished fourth in the race and ended up in 11th place in the team race with 15 points. . . . Hawthorne, the defending girls' team champion, scored one point this year, and that was only because the two DQs moved the Cougars up from eighth and last to sixth in the long relay. . . . Yki Vallery was a double winner for the Hawthorne boys' team, with a win in the 300 low hurdles and a leg on the 1,600 relay. . . . Hawthorne Coach Kye Courtney: "I felt we should have won the team title all year long. If we had (Curtis) Conway on that (1,600) relay, we would have run the fastest time in the nation this year. We would have run 3:09." The Cougars settled for a 3:11.77 without the injured Conway and a team championship. . . . Nick-John Haiduc of Anaheim Servite skipped his graduation today to compete and finished a surprising second, ahead of favorites Travis Cooksey of Oxnard Rio Mesa and Marcus Robertson of Muir. . . . What happened to Brent Burns in the pole vault? "I wasn't jumping that well today," he said. "That's pretty much the story. I wasn't on today, obviously." Obviously. . . . Two of the finalists in the boys 100 are heading to USC on football scholarships, second-place Calvin Holmes of Carson and eighth-place Ricky Ervins of Muir.