Ventura Relays Glitters While Stars Stay Out

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Although their respective teams were in attendance, many of the state's best track and field athletes did not compete Saturday in the Ventura Relays at Ventura High's Larrabee Stadium.

The Rio Mesa girls' team, which did not place among the top five in the team standings, was without the services of two-time state sprint champion Marion Jones and hurdler-long jump specialist Alycia Burnham. Both are in Syracuse, N. Y., for the National Scholastic Indoor Championships at the Carrier Dome.

Lompoc's girls' team competed at Ventura but the Brave boys, with defending state 100- and 200-meter titlist Napoleon Kaufman, traveled inland to the Bakersfield Invitational.

San Luis Obispo was without James Menon, the third-place finisher in the 3,200 in the state meet last year, who was on a college recruiting trip to the East Coast.

With the traditional stars out of town, a few of the state's up-and-coming athletes stepped into the spotlight.

Channel Islands' Veronica Barajas, a national force during the cross-country season, outlasted Jenny Lacovara of Morro Bay to win the 3,200 in her first attempt at that distance in 11 minutes 21.4 seconds.

Lacovara, the state Division IV cross-country champion, was timed in 11:37.4.

Barajas came back later to notch a 5:25.2 1,600-meter leg on the Raiders' victorious distance-medley relay team (13:11.7).

While Barajas was working primarily off the foundation established during cross-country last fall when she placed fifth in the Kinney national championships, Antelope Valley's Brock Chase has had hardly enough time to shed his basketball high-tops before taking to the high-jump apron.

The Antelope senior proceeded to leap a meet-record and personal-best 6 feet 10 inches. Andy Ugarov of Buena was second at 6-4.

Newbury Park's Jeff Wilson logged a 60.4 last-lap 400 in winning the 3,200 in 9:56.4.

Wilson, the state Division III cross-country champion, ran even with Channel Islands' Stewart Ellington and Fernando Mendoza and Rio Mesa's Louis Zepeda after seven laps (8:56.0) before beginning his final sprint.

Mendoza, who timed 9:38.22 in the Spartan Relays last Saturday, finished second in 10:03.1, and Ellington, a 9:35.24 runner, was third in 10:03.3. Zepeda clocked 10:08.7 in fifth.

Channel Islands won the boys' team title over host Ventura, 81 1/2-61 1/2, and the girls' championship over Quartz Hill, 83-51. The Raiders also took the overall team sweepstakes.

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