STATE TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW : Dameworth Has Unfinished Business in His Final Prep Meet

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In four years at Agoura High, distance runner Bryan Dameworth has proven himself a master--at cross-country.

His typical front-running tactics, strength on the hills and torrid finishing sprint have been effective--at cross-country.

So, after three consecutive state Division I cross-country titles and an undefeated senior cross-country season that included a Kinney national championship, what else is left for Dameworth to accomplish?

How about a state track title?

In two previous trips to the state track and field championships, Dameworth has faltered in his bid for the 3,200-meter title. He will try to rectify that shortcoming Saturday night at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

The preliminaries will begin today at 4 p.m. at Cerritos; the finals are scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. There are no preliminary heats in the 3,200.

Dameworth is the favorite to win the title because of his state-leading time of 8 minutes 53.85 seconds. He is also the top returnee, having finished second a year ago.

"It's something I'd like to do but I'm not dwelling on the fact that I haven't (won a state track title)," he said. "It is something I'd like to take care of."

But first, Dameworth must take care of himself. He has been battling a sore throat and a fever contracted last weekend after the Southern Section Masters meet.

Dameworth won the 3,200 in 8:54.70 in the Masters and set a 1-A Division record with a 9:05.61 a week earlier.

As his senior year comes to a close, however, Dameworth admits that he is struggling to stay motivated, saying that he might even allow another runner to set the pace Saturday night.

"I don't feel like I'm really as motivated in track as I am in cross-country," he said. "With people keying off me and using me for pace, it gets tiring."

Dameworth leads a strong Southern Section group into the 3,200 final. The five qualifiers are ranked first through fifth in the state and No. 2 through No. 6 in the nation.

San Gabriel sophomore Angel Martinez finished second last Friday in 8:56.48. Hoover's Eliazar Herrera placed third in 9:00.29, Abe Valdez of Camarillo finished fourth in 9:01.77 and San Luis Obispo's James Menon was fifth in 9:02.00.

Four of the top five 1,600 runners in the nation also will clash.

Birmingham's Brian Gastelum (No. 4 at 4:09.87) will meet Coley Candaele of Carpinteria and Arroyo Grande's Louie Quintana, ranked first and second at 4:06.58 and 4:07.20, respectively.

Fifth-ranked Danny Jordan of Venice, who has run 4:10.80, also is entered.

Rio Mesa freshman Marion Jones and senior Inger Miller of Pasadena Muir will continue their heated rivalry in the girls' 100 and 200.

Miller, who will lead Muir's bid for the team title, has the leading mark in the nation in both events at 11.48 and 23.57. Miller has won three of five confrontations with Jones this season, but Jones beat her in each event in the Masters.

Jones has personal bests of 11.64 and 23.70 and will anchor the Spartans' 400 relay team.

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