Pasadena Muir Coach Jim Brownfield knew he needed an error-free performance from his girls to win the State high school track and field meet.
And that’s exactly what he got as his team won its second State title in five years. Muir scored in every place it needed to finish ahead of Oxnard Rio Mesa, 36-26, before 10,650 fans Saturday night at Cerritos College.
Whereas Muir needed a perfect night, Hawthorne almost fumbled the boys’ team title away when its State record-holding 400-meter relay team was disqualified.
But Hawthorne had too many weapons and the Cougars won their third consecutive team title and sixth in the last seven years, outscoring L.A. Dorsey, 40-26.
With the title, Hawthorne Coach Kyle Courtney tied the record for State team championships won by a coach, with his seventh overall. He won with the girls’ team in 1986.
Muir started fast with a surprisingly easy victory in the 400-meter relay.
“It was a very nice way to start the meet,” said Brownfield, whose Mustangs gained their first sprint relay victory over Hawthorne after two straight defeats. “We had been running very conservatively until tonight. We let it all hang out.”
From there, the Mustangs just had to withstand an outstanding night from Rio Mesa’s star Angela Burnham, who defended her state titles in the 100 and 200 meters.
Muir’s main point contributer was junior Inger Miller, who finished second to Burnham in both sprints, while anchoring the Mustangs’ 400 meter victory and second place 1,600 meter relay finish. Miller ran the 100 in 11.46 seconds and the 200 in 23.86.
“We came through tonight and it started with our sprint relay victory,” said Miller. “That really gave us the push we needed to the end.”
Despite her team’s second place finish, Burnham was relieved to finish her long evening, after running the 100 and 200 meters and anchoring both Rio Mesa relay teams.
“It feels good to be done and to finish the season in such a fitting way,” said Burnham, who tied her seasonal best in the 100 meters, with a wind-aided 11.31 and ran her second fastest 200 with a 23.56.
“My ultimate goal here tonight, was to defend my state titles and to run my race and not worry about the other runners.”
In winning her sprint titles, Burnham just had too much strength, in pulling away for her fifth consecutive victory over Miller, since two early season defeats.
“I was most worried about the 100,” said the UCLA-bound Burnham. “I knew that it was important to get out of the blocks well.”
In Hawthorne’s battle for the boys’ title, the Cougars had to rally behind the performances of sprinter Curtis Conway.
The USC-bound Conway was the Cougars’ workhorse in winning the 100 meters (10.42), finishing second in the 200 meters (20.89) and anchoring their second place 1,600-meter relay finish.
“I am glad that we were able to still win the team title, despite everything that happened,” said Conway , who had previously failed to win an individual title in four years of state finals.
The setbacks the Cougars suffered occured in their specialty events, the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.
After establishing state marks in the sprint relay, their last three times out, including a 40.24 record in Friday night’s preliminaries, the Cougars were disqualified in the final.
It happened after Erik Allen started the third leg too early, causing the baton exchange between him and Anthony Smith to go beyond the passing zone.
“We did everything the hard way tonight,” Courtney said. “We did not set a record in the relay and suffered losses in races we usually win.”
In the 1,600-meter relay, Hawthorne lost to Dorsey, 3:12.21 to 3:12.68. It was the first State meet loss in the event for the Cougars since 1982.
In the 200 meters, Conway had his first major meet loss since the Arcadia Invitational April 8, losing to Barry Smith of San Francisco Mission. Smith won in 20.82, the fastest time in the nation this season.
James Stallworth of Tulare set a new all-time prep mark in the long jump, with a leap of 26-4 3/4, on his first attempt. “When I hit the board, I knw I had gotten off a good jump,” said Stallworth, who also broke his state mark set Friday night of 25-5 1/2.
Angela Rolfe of Dorsey won her third consecutive 400 meters in a time of 53.97, the fastest time in the nation this season.
Kira Jorgensen of Rancho Buena Vista also won her third consectutive title in the 1,600 meters, in a time of 4:49.55.
Other local double winners were sophomore Juliana Yendork of Walnut, who won the long and triple jump and City record-holder Beano Bryant of Dorsey, who won the 400 meters in 47.52.