Washington High School of Los Angeles will try to win its first state boys' track and field championship since 1947 when the top prep athletes in California compete in the two-day state meet at Cerritos College, starting today with field events at 3 p.m.
The first running event today will be at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the field events will start at 5 p.m., with the first running event at 6.
Washington, which easily won the City title last week, will be led by sprinters Donovan Burks, Jason Goss and Sylvester Green. The Generals are slight favorites in a wide-open team chase.
Other teams in contention for the boys' title are Pasadena Muir, the Southern Section 4-A Division champion, and Fresno Edison.
Burks is the two-time City champion at 100 and 200 meters, while Washington also has the top 400-meter relay qualifying time of 40.06 seconds and the third-best 1,600-meter relay time of 3:16.74.
"We really think that this is the year for us to win the state title," Burks said. "We feel we should do just as well in the sprints as we did in the (City finals)."
Also challenging Burks in the sprints will be Andre Green of Long Beach Poly, the top Southern Section qualifier; Keith Jones of Fresno Edison, and Willie Clark of Wheatland. Clark, who will play football at Notre Dame next fall, is entered in the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
In the middle distances, Coley Candaele of Carpinteria is the runner to beat, based on his 800- and 1,600-meter times this season. Candaele posted the best marks in both events last year but had problems attempting this double in the state meet, finishing second in the 1,600 and sixth in the 800.
Rocky Morris of San Jose Hill is the favorite in both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, with times of 14.08 and 37.47 respectively. In the shorter race, Morris will be challenged by City champion Terrance Campbell of Wilmington Banning and Andre Devezin of Pasadena Muir.
Brent Noon of Fallbrook and Jerome Price of San Diego Universal City are two of the top performers in the field events. Noon, who set a California prep record in the 12-pound shotput of 76 feet 2 inches this season, is a favorite in both that event and the discus, but has been slowed by a late-season hamstring injury. Price is the favorite in the long jump with a wind-aided leap of 25-8 1/2.
Pasadena Muir's chances of repeating as team champion in the girls' competition depend on the injured left ankle of senior sprinter Inger Miller, who finished second in both the 100 and 200 meters last year.
Miller, who leads the nation in the 100 with a time of 11.48 and in the 200 with a 23.57, aggravated her season-long injury in the Masters meet last Friday, when she finished second in both sprints.
"What makes it tough is that there is no way Inger can run four events a day," Muir Coach Jim Brownfield said. "So, we'll probably drag her out of the relays . . . and kiss off the state meet title."
With Miller not at full strength, Bakersfield is the favorite to win the team title with its field-event performers and 400 runner Janice Nichols. Bakersfield is expected to score heavily with Dawn Dumble and Melisa Weis, California's top two girls in the shotput and discus.
For the last two years, Angela Burnham, now a freshman at UCLA, won the state titles in the 100 and 200 for Oxnard Rio Mesa. Now, freshman Marion Jones is expected to continue the Spartans' sprint winning streak, based on her victories over Miller in the Masters meet.
Jones won the 100 in 11.64 and then broke her own national 14-year-old age-group record in the 200, in 23.70.