TRACK AND FIELD / JOHN ORTEGA : West Valley Relay Team in Hot Pursuit of Sub-40-Second Time

Bryan Howard, Andre DeSaussure, Edward Turner and Drue Powell do not have the same name recognition in track and field circles as Quincy Watts and Bryan Bridgewater, yet West Valley Eagles track Coach Roger Lipkis says the foursome is capable of running faster in the 400-meter relay than a team led by Watts and Bridgewater did in 1987.

Watts, the 1992 Olympic champion in the 400 meters, and Bridgewater, this year's NCAA Division II champion for Cal State Los Angeles in the 100 (10.08 seconds) and 200 (20.11), had just completed their junior years at Taft and Washington highs in 1987.

That summer they ran for West Valley, and along with David Feinstein of Taft and Percy Knox of Antelope Valley they timed 40.02 to win the young men's division of the 400 relay in The Athletics Congress Junior Olympic championships at Brigham Young.

"That team had some big names on it in Watts, Bridgewater and Knox," Lipkis said. "But this year's team has the potential of running a sub-40 race."

Although the West Valley quartet of Powell, Turner, Lamar Reed and Howard timed only 41.45 in winning the young men's (for athletes born in 1975 and '76) title in the regional championships at San Diego's Balboa Stadium on Saturday, Lipkis noted that their passes were safe and that Howard stepped off the accelerator in the final 30 meters.

In addition, DeSaussure--this year's City Section champion in the 100, 200 and 400 as a Taft High junior--likely will be a member of the team when the Eagles compete in the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic championships in Baton Rouge, La., from July 27-Aug. 1.

DeSaussure did not run in the 400 relay Saturday because he was playing football for Taft in a passing-league tournament, but he did win the 200 in 21.2 and anchor the Eagles to victory in the 1,600 relay (3:16) Sunday.

While Lipkis' prediction of a sub-40 clocking in the 400 relay might sound like hyperbole, the composition of the Eagles' team is nonetheless impressive.

Howard timed a personal best of 10.43 seconds to win this year's state title in the 100 as a sophomore at Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, and DeSaussure has run a wind-aided 10.58.

Turner ran a wind-aided 10.55 in the 100 as a senior at Inglewood Morningside, and junior teammate Reed is a 49-second 400 runner.

Powell is known more for his hurdling--he won the 110 highs in last month's state meet as a senior at Reseda--than for his sprinting, but Lipkis said it was his strong opening leg in San Diego that set the tone for the race.

"He came out of the blocks like he was shot out of a cannon," Lipkis said. "When he made the pass to (Turner), the race for first was basically over."

Powell filled in for DeSaussure on Saturday and his performance might have earned him a permanent place on the relay team.

"It's going to be hard to remove him from the team after Saturday," Lipkis said.

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End of the line: Jeremy Fischer of Camarillo High, the runner-up in the high jump in last month's state championships, will conclude a long and arduous season in the Junior Olympic championships in Baton Rouge.

Fischer, who has a personal best of 7 feet 2 inches, cleared 6-10 to easily win the young men's division Saturday in San Diego.

Although Fischer missed three times at 7 feet--a height he has cleared in 10 meets this season--Camarillo Coach Dennis Riedmiller wasn't worried.

"I think it was just a mental thing," Riedmiller said. "He won the competition at 6-6, he popped over 6-10, and then he just wanted to get out of there. You could tell by his jumps at seven feet that he just wasn't into it."

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Statwatch: Consistency has been Fischer's trademark this season. The senior-to-be has cleared 7 feet or higher in 10 meets and 6-10 or higher in 16.

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Caught in the act: Track & Field News magazine touts itself as the bible of the sport, but the latest issue has a mistake in it, listing Peter De La Cerda of Adams State (Colo.) as a foreigner in the results from the NCAA Division II championships in May.

De La Cerda, who won the 10,000 meters in the Division II meet, was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and is a 1989 graduate of Granada Hills High.

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