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TRACK AND FIELD / STATE HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIPS : Meet Turns Out Worth the Wait

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TIMES PREP SPORTS EDITOR

A two-week delay for the State track and field finals might have provided many participants with needed rest.

Fears the layoff would result in mass defections and sub-par performances proved unfounded as several records were set Saturday at Cerritos College.

Before 5,300, the 75th State meet concluded later in June than ever before. But most of the athletes did not seem to mind.

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“I always knew in the back of my mind that the State meet would be held sooner or later,” said Marion Jones, an All-American sprinter from Thousand Oaks. “There is just no way it could not happen.”

The meet was canceled two weeks ago after a morning of heavy rain left the facility under puddles of water.

However, after much criticism from coaches, athletes and fans, CIF officials rescheduled the meet.

But it didn’t come off without controversy. Final team scores were delayed 20 minutes while officials reviewed the finish of the boys’ 1,600 relay, the last event.

North Salinas won the relay, which placed the school in a tie with Merced for the team title.

North Salinas’ anchor, senior Calvin Harrison, was called for unsportsmanlike conduct for pointing the baton to the crowd down both straightaways.

After a lengthy discussion, the relay result was reinstated, meaning North Salinas and Merced finished in a tie for first with 36 points. Pasadena Muir was third with 30.

In the girls’ team race, Long Beach Poly easily defended its title with 56 points, followed by Oakland Bishop O'Dowd with 37 and Thousand Oaks with 30.

Harrison started the day by anchoring North Salinas to a third-place finish in the 400 relay.

An hour later, he set a state and national federation record in the 400 with a winning time of 45.25 seconds. The previous state record of 45.5 was set in 1985 by Chip Rish of Huntington Beach Marina. The national federation record of 45.5 was first established in 1981 by Anthony Ketchum of Needleville, Texas.

Harrison added a victory in the 200 in 21.12.

“Driving down here today I still had my doubts that this meet would be any good,” Harrison said. “I was so upset when it was canceled, I almost didn’t show up. But once I got on the track, it was just as if nothing had ever happened. The crowd made you forget this was two weeks late.”

Merced was led by senior Brian Wilkinson, who won the 1,600 in 4:08.13, the second best time in the nation this season.

The meet also marked the conclusion of Jones’ outstanding prep career. The Thousand Oaks senior won the 100 and 200 for the fourth consecutive year.

Jones added the long jump title in her first year of competition in the event. Her winning mark of 22 feet 1/2 inch shattered the state record of 20-9 3/4, set by Wendy Brown of Woodside in 1984.

“Going 22 feet in the long jump will definitely go down as one of my highlights in high school,” said Jones, who is headed to North Carolina in the fall. “I’m only sorry I didn’t get the national record.”

After winning a record ninth individual title, Jones was allowed to run a victory lap, which brought the crowd to its feet.

Jones’ victories gave Thousand Oaks third place, but it was not enough to offset Long Beach Poly.

The Jackrabbits had little trouble defending their title.

Sophomores Aninah Haddad and Andrea Anderson each placed in the 100 and 200 and ran legs on the team’s winning 400 relay.

There were other highlights, as well. Milena Glusac of Fallbrook won a rare double with first-place finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200. Meisha Marzell of Bishop O'Dowd defended her title in the 800.

Bryan Howard, a sophomore from Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, won the 100 and was second in the 200.


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