Track and Field / John Ortega : World Cup Gives Jacobs Chance for Redemption

She was a member of the U. S. team in the 1987 World Championships and the 1988 Olympic Games, but Regina Jacobs will have a lot to prove to herself and others when she runs in the 1,500 meters in the World Cup in Barcelona, Spain, next month.

Jacobs, a 1981 graduate of the Argyll Academy (now Campbell Hall High) in North Hollywood, was ranked third in the nation the past two years but ran poorly in the World Championships in Rome and in the Seoul Games.

She won The Athletics Congress 1,500 title in 4 minutes, 3.70 seconds in 1987 but was eliminated in the heats of the World Championships, running 4:12.51. And after finishing second in last year's Olympic Trials in a personal best of 4:00.46, the Long Beach resident failed to qualify for the Olympic final, placing 11th (4:18.09) in her heat.

"I went into both of those meets in really good shape," Jacobs said, "But I wasn't sharp mentally. I wasn't tough. I remember at the Games that I didn't fight to hold my position like I should have. A runner passed me and I just thought, 'That's no big deal, I'll just outkick her.' "

Jacobs, who qualified for the World Cup by winning the 1,500 in the TAC meet in Houston last month, attributed her failure in Rome and Seoul to a lack of races before those meets and to self-imposed pressure.

"I was stale both times," she said. "I wasn't racing sharp like I should have been. I didn't race for six weeks before the Games and for three weeks before the World Championships, and I felt it in the races. . . . Hopefully, we'll break that cycle this year."

To accomplish that, Jacobs will return for the second half of the European season early next month and run from seven to nine races--at distances ranging from 800 to 3,000 meters--before the World Cup.

The Weltklasse meet in Zurich, Switzerland, on Aug. 16 will be the most important race on her itinerary before the World Cup. Jacobs will run the mile in the Swiss capital against a strong field that is expected to include Paula Ivan, the Olympic 1,500-meter champion from Romania.

Jacobs figured that Ivan and Olympic 3,000-meter gold medalist Tatyana Samolenko of the Soviet Union were the runners to beat in the Olympics but that the race for third was wide open.

"Going in, I thought they were the gold and silver," said Jacobs, whose time of 4:00.46 ranked fifth on last year's world list, "But the bronze was up for grabs. And given my time, I felt I would get it."

When that scenario failed to materialize, Jacobs was "terribly disappointed," but the gregarious 1985 Stanford graduate can still joke about her failures.

"Based on my performances, the USOC is going to completely re-evaluate their selection process," Jacobs quipped. "I'm going to get a notice in the mail saying that the Olympic team will no longer be selected from the Olympic Trials.

"That the USOC has decided to base it on a series of meets because Regina Jacobs ran so poorly in the World Championships and Olympic Games."

Face lift: Birmingham High, host of the past seven City Section track and field championships, will resurface its track July 27.

The upgrade, expected to cost $150,000 and take three weeks to complete, will include a new tartan surface that will be put over the current one, lengthening (from 90 to 140 feet) and widening (36 to 48 inches) the field event runways and an enlarging the high jump aprons at the west and east ends of the football field. An inside curb--lacking at the moment--also will be added.

The long jump and triple jump pits will be on the south side of the infield and the two pole vault pits will be on the north side. The current setup has a long jump and pole vault pit on each side of the field. Putting the pits on the same side of the field will allow athletes to take advantage of the prevailing wind conditions.

"The track could probably hold up for another five years," Birmingham Coach Scott King said. "But we just felt that now--when we have the money--was as good a time as ever to do it. We want to make Birmingham a great facility and we feel that these improvements can do that."

The biggest improvement could be the high jump aprons, which are notoriously small (a semicircle with a radius of about 15 feet). They will be enlarged to become a 50-by-60-foot rectangular area.

Athletes can take only two or three steps on the current tartan surface before jumping; the new one would give them as many as 10 steps, allowing for greater speed on the approach, which should translate into better jumps.

"It will also allow us to put the pit anywhere on the apron," King said. "Which will allow us to take advantage of wind conditions in that event too."

Golden double: Angela Burnham, who won the 100 and 200 for Rio Mesa High in the state championships in June, won the same events for the U. S. junior (athletes 19 and under) team in a dual meet against Canada in New Brunswick on Sunday.

Burnham had wind-aided times of 11.56 seconds in the 100 and 23.70 in the 200. She defeated teammate Chryste Gaines (11.72) in the 100, avenging a loss to her Stanford rival in the TAC Junior championships last month.

Burnham also ran the second leg on the victorious 400 relay team, which clocked 45.40.

The UCLA-bound Burnham will compete in the 100 and 200 in an international junior meet at Brown University in Providence, R. I., on Saturday and Sunday.

Charger addition: Bryan Dameworth of Agoura High has been added to the high school "Four-Minute Mile Challenge" in the Jack in the Box Invitational at UCLA, Aug. 6.

Dameworth, the two-time defending state Division I cross-country champion, originally was entered in the less-prestigious open mile, but meet promoter Don Franken moved up Dameworth because of his success at the longer distances.

"After reevaluating the field, we just decided that Bryan deserved a shot at the big boys," Franken said. "He doesn't have a (personal record) in the mile as fast as some of the other guys, but he's always concentrated on the two mile before. We just wanted to give him a chance to run a fast mile."

Dameworth, who has a converted best of 4:17.07 in the mile, ran 9:00.27 to place second in the 3,200 meters in the state meet in June.

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