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Benkert Eagerly Accepts Westlake Football Job

For new Westlake High Coach Jim Benkert, the 1989 football season cannot begin soon enough. The former Crespi High offensive coordinator expressed his eagerness when he was officially introduced as the Warriors’ coach Friday at a press conference at the school.

“My feelings are ones of excitement and enthusiasm, and I’m anxious to get started,” he said. “This is the time in my career that I’m ready to become a head football coach, and I’m glad it happened this year.”

Benkert replaces George Contreras--the only football coach in Westlake’s 11-year history--who resigned in December. Benkert, 31, said that he would remain as a teacher and track coach at Crespi, where he has coached since 1982.

Westlake was 2-8 last year, 2-4 in the Marmonte League. The Warriors have not made the playoffs since 1982 and enrollment at the school is on the decline. Still, Benkert is optimistic.

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“The key thing is to get the athletes out for football,” he said. “And once you do that, you generate a lot of enthusiasm on the campus and then in the community.

“Our first goal is to win league, the second is to make the playoffs and the third is to win a CIF title. In high school sports, there is no such thing as a rebuilding year.”

Benkert, who graduated from El Camino Real High and Cal State Northridge, recently moved to Westlake with wife Mary and daughter Katie.

“Since we are in the community now, the program is right in our back yard, practically,” he said.

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Angela Burnham of Rio Mesa High, the defending state champion in the 100 and 200 meters, will make her outdoor debut at the Spartan Relays at Rio Mesa today.

Burnham, Track and Field News’ 1988 female high school athlete of the year, will run the 100, anchor the 400-meter and sprint medley relays, then conclude the meet with a leg on the Spartans’ 8 x 200 relay.

The boys’ and girls’ 3,200 meters and the boys’ 100 are expected to be the top events of the meet, which starts at 9 a.m.

Bryan Dameworth of Agoura and Mike Williamson of Thousand Oaks, first and second in last year’s state Division I cross-country championships, will renew their rivalry in the boys’ 3,200. Deena Drossin of Agoura and Jamie Park of Santa Barbara will meet in the girls’ 3,200. Drossin placed third in last year’s state Division I cross-country championships, and Park is the two-time defending Southern Section 4-A Division champion.

Curtis Conway of Hawthorne and Russell White of Crespi will meet in the boys’ 100. Conway placed second in the 100 and third in the 200 at last year’s state championships and White finished eighth in the 200.

White also will compete in the long jump and run the 200-meter leg on the Celts’ sprint-medley relay.

Hart High will play host to a 12-team invitational softball tournament at three sites beginning today. Games will begin at 9 a.m. at Newhall Park, Old Orchard Park and at Hart’s on-campus field. Each team will play two games today. The tournament will conclude next weekend.

The tournament is split into four brackets. The top two finishers in each bracket will play next Saturday. Teams in third place after today will participate in a consolation championship Friday.

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Hart, Canyon, Saugus and El Camino Real are the top-seeded teams. Also participating are Bell-Jeff, Camarillo, Palmdale, Pasadena, Paraclete, St. Genevieve, Sylmar and a second squad from Hart composed mostly of junior varsity players.


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