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City Girls’ Track Lagging Behind Days of Glory

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As the top high school track and field athletes move into the State championships at Cerritos College this weekend, one has to wonder what has happened to the girls’ City track programs.

Over the years, many of the state’s top athletes have competed for City schools--including Olympians Florence Griffith Joyner for Jordan, Valerie Brisco for Locke, Jodie Anderson for Washington and Denean Howard for Kennedy of Granada Hills. But those days are gone.

In last Thursday’s City finals, the top marks recorded in girls’ competition were mediocre. Only three City winners would have made the cut if they competed in the Southern Section’s Masters meet, in which the top five finishers in each event qualified for the State finals.

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Out of 56 qualifiers the City will send to the State finals, only Danielle Frost of Locke in the 100 meters, Sonya Bryant of Wilmington Banning in the long jump and Dorsey’s 1,600-meter relay team would have made it as Southern Section competitors.

An example of how far the City has fallen came in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. Robin Snowbeck of University raced unchallenged in winning the 1,600 in 5:09.70 and the 3,200 in 11:44.79, as she averaged seven-second victories in the events. Snowbeck would have averaged nearly 30 seconds behind the sixth place Southern Section finisher in both events.

One of the main reasons for the decline is that the City programs do not have the depth they once had. Locke, which had won seven consecutive City team titles before finishing behind Banning last week, used to have a finalist in nearly every event, but the Saints had few in this year’s finals.

“We’ve had some disappointments,” Locke Coach Jimmy Lee said. “We don’t have the numbers like before, so we have problems when a runner goes down or is disqualified.”

The boys’ State 400-meter final will again be a banner event this year with a core of strong runners from the Southland.

Lamont Warren of Dorsey won his second consecutive City title in 48.35. Warren, who will attend Colorado on a football scholarship, had to rally to defeat Amado Coleman of Locke and Mike Moquel of Van Nuys Birmingham.

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Warren, who suffered a hamstring injury early in the season, is expected to face Edwin Hervey of Compton, who won the Masters one-lap title, in the State final.

Hervey, who also qualified in the 200 meters, defeated a strong field that was headed by Gerald McCladdie of Compton Centennial and La Salle Hughey of Rubidoux to win in 47.13.

For the 19th consecutive year, a San Fernando Valley baseball team won the City large-school division championship when San Fernando defeated Banning, 3-2, Friday.

San Fernando won its first title by defeating Banning’s star pitcher, Mike Busby, who gave up the winning run after entering the game in the sixth inning.

Busby, who is expected to be drafted high in this summer’s professional draft, suffered his only loss of the season in 12 decisions. San Fernando finished the season with a 17-10 record; Banning finished 20-7.

In the 3-A Division championship, Narbonne defeated Franklin, 5-1, behind the pitching of Armando Cervantes and the hitting of Mike Ramirez.

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