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Monarchs Attempt To Defend Their Title : Track: Long Beach Poly, Bishop O’Dowd and Thousand Oaks are expected to give Morningside a run for the championship.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A strong field will attempt to unseat defending girls’ champion Morningside High when the two-day State track meet begins today Cerritos College.

“At this point we’re well aware of Long Beach Poly, Bishop O’Dowd and Thousand Oaks, but right now we just want to worry about getting through Friday,” Monarch Coach Ron Tatum said. “We have to get enough people through to make a run for it on Saturday.”

Qualifying starts this afternoon with field events at 3. The finals are Saturday.

Morningside is led by its sprint corps that includes sophomores Tai-Ne Gibson, Jaronda White and Felicia Williams and seniors Sanoma Nickson and Santisha Arnold.

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Gibson has qualified in the 100- and 200-meter runs, Nickson in the 100 and the 100 hurdles, Arnold in the 200 and White and Williams in the 400. Nickson finished the 100 hurdles in 14.44 seconds for the third-fastest time at last week’s Masters Meet. White was second in the 400 in 55.73 seconds.

The Monarchs are also among the favorites in both relays. They were the top qualifying team in the 400 relay with a time of 46.31. In the 1,600, they had the second-fastest time of 3 minutes 47.68 seconds.

Morningside expects to receive its toughest competition from Southern Section 4-A Division champion Long Beach Poly, which features freshman sprinter Andrea Anderson, and Thousand Oaks, which is led by junior sprinter Marion Jones.

Two South Bay athletes are also expected to compete for titles.

Bishop Montgomery long jumper Nicole Haynes, who was third in the 1991 State meet, had a leap of 18 feet last week. Peninsula’s Maya Muneno, who is among the favorites in the 3,200 run, qualified with a time of 10:59.90.

Gardena, which has qualified in five events, appears to be the top area City Section school in the meet. The Mohicans’ 400 relay team finished in 48.68 and the 1,600 team ran a 4:00.05 last week.

Although no area school is expected to finish among the top teams in the boys’ competition, several individuals and relay teams could have an impact.

Morningside’s 400 and 1,600 relay teams should be among the favorites. The Monarchs are the defending champion in the 1,600.

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Hawthorne will be led by senior Demond Smith in the 110 and 300 hurdles. Smith’s best opportunity for a title may be in the 300. He had the top qualifying time of 37.51 at the Masters Meet.

Peninsula is also represented by Goss Lindsey in the 1,600 and Brian Steip in the 800.

Gardena’s Anthony Jones is expected to be among the favorites in the 200.

Two area competitors include Carson’s Anthony Lloyd in the 200 and Mark Batiste of Banning in the triple jump.

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