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RUNNING /JOHN ORTEGA : Curran Hopes to Take Manhattan With Beach Pole Vault Event

In many ways, June 17 will be like any other summer Sunday at Manhattan Beach.

The sun most likely will be shining. The waves will be breaking, and hundreds of sun-burned people will be roaming the boardwalk.

The difference is that this Sunday, pole vaulters will be soaring higher than the Manhattan Beach Pier.

That’s right. After several years as a stop on the pro beach volleyball circuit, Manhattan Beach will play host to the Champs Beach Pole Vault competition south of the pier, starting at 11 a.m. Sunday.

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An indoor vault runway will be set up on the sand and, depending on the wind’s direction, vaulters will jump with either the ocean or the boardwalk as their backdrop.

The brainchild of former Crespi High and UCLA pole-vault standout Anthony Curran, the beach vault will consist of a collegiate competition at 11 a.m., a high school event at 12:15 p.m., and a world-class section at 1:30.

Jay Borick of UCLA, the 1986 City Section champion at Taft High, and Tom Parker of Advantage Athletics, runner-up in the 1987 state meet for Notre Dame High, are two of the scheduled collegiate competitors. Howie Schrier of Birmingham, this year’s City Section champion, is entered in the high school division.

“This is just a one-shot deal for now,” said Curran, 30, “but eventually, we’re hoping to make it a six-meet tour throughout the country. Most of the vaulters I’ve talked to are all for it.”

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Curran, who cleared 17 feet 4 1/4 inches in high school and had a personal best of 18-2 1/2 as a UCLA senior in 1982, won the initial beach vault at 17-6 at Manhattan Beach in October, but Beach Vault II should have an improved field.

Although many of the world-class competitors may be doubling back from The Athletics Congress Championships at Cerritos College in Norwalk on Saturday, four 19-foot vaulters are expected at the event, led by Kory Tarpenning, the two-time defending TAC champion who ranks second on the all-time U. S. list with a best of 19-3 3/4.

The others are Tim Bright (19-0 3/4), who ranked eighth in the world last year, Scott Huffman, who recently cleared 19-0 1/4, and Greg Duplantis (19-0).

The seeds for vaulting on the beach were planted in Curran’s mind in 1981 when he jumped at a fair in Paris with 1980 Olympic champion Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz of Poland. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that he envisioned it taking place.

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“The people (in France) just ate it up,” recalled Curran, a two-time state champion at Crespi. “And I figured with a few changes and the right marketing, the same thing could happen in the States.”

Curran is footing much of the $10,000 to $15,000 bill for Sunday’s affair. However, he is hopeful that SportsChannel’s taped broadcast in July will help to increase sponsors.

“It just seems like the natural combination, pole vaulting and the beach,” Curran said. “With the right type of promotion, I think this event can be very popular.”

Mission accomplished: He failed to win, but Bryan Dameworth of Agoura High got what he came for in the Golden West Invitational at Cal State Sacramento last Saturday.

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Having lowered the school record in the 3,200 meters to 8 minutes 53.26 seconds to win the state title at Cerritos College the previous week, Dameworth entered the Golden West meet intent on annexing the school record in the mile from Jon Stormo, who ran 4:10.2 as a Charger junior in 1977.

“I wanted to break the school record and hold my composure on the last lap,” said Dameworth, who finished third in 4:09.32. “And I figured if I did that, I had a good chance at going under 4:10.”

Unlike in previous races, Dameworth was not required to force the early pace.

Michael Going of Old Westbury, N. Y., took care of the pace-setting chores instead, leading through the 440-yard mark in 59 seconds, the 880 in 1:59 and the 1,320 in 3:04.

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“I felt better than I had in the last few weeks,” said Dameworth, who clocked 63.8 at the 440, 2:03.8 at 880 and 3:05.4 at 1,320. “I didn’t die in the last lap like I had before.”

Dameworth, the 1989 Kinney national cross-country champion, and Andy Maris of Buckley, Wash., the Kinney runner-up, surged past Going with 220 yards left, but Dameworth couldn’t hold off Maris (4:08.05) or Going (4:09.19) in the final straightaway.

“I felt like I could have run another second or two faster,” said Dameworth, who ran his previous best of 4:13.3 in the Times Indoor Games in February, “but I was pretty pleased with the time. I thought I was capable of running that fast earlier this year, but I never seemed to be in the right race.”

Dameworth’s best chance came in the Southern Section 1-A Division championships in May when he passed the first 1,200 meters of the 1,600 in 3:04.2, only to watch Carpinteria’s Coley Candaele swoop past him in the last 250 meters to clock a then national-leading 4:06.58 to Dameworth’s 4:12.64.

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Candaele, the state 1,600 champion, ran at Golden West, but a cold held him to a fifth-place time of 4:13.98.

Add Dameworth: The national leader in 1990 at two miles (his 3,200 time converts to 8:56.41), Dameworth moved to fifth on the yearly mile list and ranks fourth in both events on the all-time Valley-area list.

Both times are extremely fast, but they lose luster when compared to the all-time U. S. high school lists.

Dameworth’s mile time has been bettered by at least 141 high school runners and his two-mile best ranks 80th.

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Jim Ryun (East High, Wichita, Kan.) holds the national high school record in the mile (3:55.3) and former Burbank standout Jeff Nelson owns the national two-mile best (8:36.3).

Both performances came in open competition. Ryun set a then-American record to upset three-time Olympic gold medalist Peter Snell of New Zealand in the 1965 Amateur Athletic Union championships in San Diego, and Nelson placed third in the 1979 Pepsi Invitational at UCLA.

Rubber match: Dameworth and Maris are expected to clash again in the two-mile in the International Prep Invitational in Elmhurst, Ill., on Saturday.

After defeating Maris twice in cross-country (Kinney West regional and national championships), Dameworth has lost both encounters with the White River High senior on the track.

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In addition to the Golden West mile, Maris beat Dameworth in the 3,200 meters (8:53.78 to 8:53.85) in the Arcadia Invitational in April.

Trivia question: Dameworth is one of only two Valley-area high school runners to break 4:10 in the mile and nine minutes in the two mile.

Who is the other?

Going out on top: Eliazar Herrera of Hoover High has proven to be one of the top distance runners in the country during his senior season, yet he had not won a major race until he prevailed in the 3,000 meters in the Golden West meet.

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Herrera, third in the Southern Section 4-A Division cross-country championships and 11th in the Kinney nationals, had finished second in the 3,200 in the 4-A track and field championships, third in the Masters meet, and second in the state championships before winning at Cal State Sacramento.

To top it off, the manner in which the UCLA-bound Herrera won--outkicking Brandon Rhoads of Provo, Utah, in the final straightaway--was unusual.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Herrera, who timed 8:27.9 to Rhoads’ 8:28.5. “It’s not often that I outkick somebody. It was a big surprise.”

Answer: Don Moses of Crescenta Valley High ran 4:08.5 in the mile and 8:52.6 in the two-mile in 1976.

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