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TRACK : Another Conference Victory Lap for the Bulldogs

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Southeastern Conference was the first in the City Section to abandon the dual-meet format for track and adopt a tri-meet schedule. Four years later, it is still the section’s only conference conducting such meets.

And the change has suited Garfield well.

The Bulldogs (8-0) captured their fourth conference title in five seasons Friday, defeating Fremont and Locke at home Friday.

Fremont Coach Steve Lang and Locke Coach Timm MacDonald, though, say Garfield’s dominance has proved little. The tri-meet format permits two entrants from each school to score per event, and Lang and MacDonald said the scoring is biased against sprinter-oriented schools.

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“Bigger teams are going to be the more successful,” Lang said. “It’s not a true test of who has the best track team.”

Garfield Coach Carlos Jimenez likes the two additional open weeks created by the switch to a tri-meet schedule.

Jimenez said the change has improved performances in the conference by keeping athletes rested and giving them a chance to focus on invitationals.

The bye weeks, though, have often gone unfilled for Locke and Huntington Park, which do not have the budgets to send their teams to invitationals.

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“The kids always seemed a little sluggish after being off for a week,” said Huntington Park Coach Tony Guajardo, whose Spartans won the boys’ championship last year. “There’s a lot more fanfare and we didn’t have the competitiveness, especially with the weaker teams, we do now. I like the tri-meets.”

Lang and MacDonald, however, said they will recommend changes when the tri-meet format is discussed at a Tuesday meeting. That meeting will also determine seedings for the conference preliminaries, which will be held at Cal State Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Instead of running only tri-meets, Lang would like to see the conference implement a mixed schedule of tri- and dual meets. MacDonald wants to see the tri-meet format scrapped.


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