Morningside Teams Run Away From Pack in Track Finals : Preps: The Monarch girls win their third consecutive Southern Section title. The boys' team wins its first title since 1988.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was a clean sweep for Morningside High in the Southern Section 2-A Division track and field finals Saturday at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

With sophomore sprinter Tai-Ne Gibson winning two events, the Monarchs easily won their third consecutive 2-A championship with 96 points--39 ahead of runner-up Torrance. St. Bernard was third with 25 points.

The Morningside boys had a more difficult time before outdistancing Valencia by 12 points for the 2-A title. The Monarchs finished with 54 points.

The two titles gave the school four Southern Section championships in major sports during the 1991-92 academic year. Morningside also won the Division VIII title in football in December and the 3-AA title in boys' basketball in March.

It was also Morningside's first championship in boys' track since it won three consecutive titles from 1986-88.

"It's been three years since the boys have won a title and it's something we wanted to do," Coach Ron Tatum said. "To achieve a goal like this is really sweet."

Said Morningside sprinter Edward Turner: "It feels real good to win this. We're finally stepping out of the girls' shadow and making something for the boys."

Turner may have played the biggest role in the Monarchs' success. He won the 400-meter run in 48.79 seconds and anchored Morningside's 1,600-meter relay team that finished in 3 minutes 16.29 seconds--more than three seconds ahead of second-place Valencia.

Morningside also had second-place efforts from Levester Williams in the 300-meter hurdles, Travion Harris in the 200 meters, Perry McBride in the triple jump and its 400-meter relay team.

"The 4x100 relay was the one event that got us going," Tatum said. "We thought we might finish third and when we took second that was really the kickoff for us."

The outcome was never in doubt for the Morningside girls, who took a big step toward defending their state championship.

"We had our prom last night and I was a little concerned going in," Tatum said. "But I thought they came out and gave everything we asked of them."

The Monarchs won on the strength on their sprint corps. They swept the first three places in the 100-meter dash, took first and second in the 200 and first and third in the 400 as well as winning the 400 and 1,600 relays.

Gibson was the most impressive, taking the 100 in 12.09 seconds and the 200 in 24.65.

Morningside was also sparked by Sanoma Nickson, Jaronda White and Santisha Arnold. Nickson won the 100 hurdles and finished third in the 100, White won the 400 and Arnold placed second in the 100 and 200.

The Morningside girls qualified eight individuals and both of its relay teams for Friday's Southern Section Masters Meet. But Tatum said he isn't thinking ahead to the state meet.

"As long as we can stay healthy and keep away from injuries, we'll be in good shape at the Masters next week," he said. "That's all we're looking at right now."

While it was Morningside's day in the spotlight, the Torrance girls also enjoyed success in 2-A.

Kim Blankenship led the way with a victory in the high jump and the Tartars also finished second in four other events. Blankenship leaped 5-foot-6 in the high jump to win by a inch over Darci Morrison of Laguna Hills.

Second-place finishers for Torrance were Wendy McCamish in the 400, Fiona Mason in the 300 hurdles and Brittany Mounger in the shotput. The Tartars also finished second in the 400 relay.

West Torrance senior Geoff Delahanty won the 1,600 and 3,200 in 2-A.

The South Bay's strongest showing outside of 2-A came from the Hawthorne boys, who finished fifth in 4-A with 31 points.

Most of those points came from hurdler Demond Smith, who won the 110-meter hurdles and the 300 hurdles.

Smith ran 14.62 seconds in the 110 hurdles and 37.48 seconds in the 300 hurdles. He was also a member of Hawthorne's 1,600 relay team that finished third in 3:18.52.

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