Although Birmingham and Dorsey high schools are regarded as the teams to beat going into the boys' City track and field finals at 3 p.m. today at Birmingham, Gardena Coach Kevin Hughley doesn't want to dismiss his team's chances.
"We've got a legitimate shot," he said. "It's probably better than we've had in 20 years. There's no doubt that we will finish in the top three."
Hughley says Gardena's hopes may hinge on the legs of junior distance runner Morris Giddens, who was the second-fastest qualifier in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. He had qualifying times of 4 minutes 26.37 seconds in the 1,600 and 9:38.16 in the 3,200 at the City semifinals last week.
The Mohicans will also rely on points from Anthony Jones in the 100 and 200, Jaye McMillan in the 400, Derrell Robertson in the long and triple jumps and their 400 and 1,600 relay teams.
Jones was fifth in qualifying in the 100 (11.24 seconds) and 200 (22.28) last week. McMillan was third in the 400 in 49.03.
There are several other area athletes competing who have a good shot at high finishes. They include Anthony Lloyd of Carson in the 200, Chris Hunt of Westchester in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles and Mark Batiste of Banning in the triple jump.
Although Dorsey is the favorite in the girls' division, Hughley said the Mohicans should have a strong showing.
Leading the way for Gardena will be twins Stacy and Tracy Jenkins. Stacy qualified in the long jump last week with the second-best effort of 17 feet 4 1/2 inches. Tracy was second in the triple jump with a leap of 35-8.
Other top competitors for the Mohicans include sophomore Africa Williams in the 400 and 800 and freshman Erica Alston in the 100 and 300 hurdles. Gardena also has strong relay teams with qualifying times of 50.02 in the 400 and 4:06.59 in the 1,600.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the State meet June 5-6 at Cerritos College.