Bussey of Taft Comes Up Big on Inside Track


Blaine Bussey didn't set a meet record.

He didn't improve his career best.

And he didn't get a chance to race the defending state champion in the 400 meters.

But Bussey, a senior at Taft High, turned in two superb performances in the L.A. Invitational indoor track and field meet at the Sports Arena on Saturday.

Bussey, who won the 500-yard run in 57.82 seconds and ran a stellar 48.4 anchor leg on Taft's mile relay team that placed second in 3:32.58, was one of four individual winners from the region.

The others were Anita Siraki of Hoover, who pulled off a stunning upset of Lauren Fleshman of Canyon in the girls' two-mile; Porchea Carroll of Rio Mesa, who won the girls' long jump, and Jon Rymsza of Chaminade, who won the boys' 880.

Bussey's time in the 500 was the second-fastest of his career and the 12th fastest by a U.S. high school athlete, but he was disappointed he didn't get to race Mike Ryan of Beverly Hills.

Ryan, defending state champion in the 400 meters, was scheduled to race Bussey in the fifth heat of the 500, but didn't run for unknown reasons.

"I was looking forward to racing him," Bussey said. "I wanted to see what he could do."

Ryan won the state title in 47.62 last June, with Bussey third in 48.11. But Bussey has been on a tear since.

He ran 47.20--fastest time in the state last year--to place third in the young men's division of the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics last summer and clocked hand times of 47.3 and 47.0 in all-comers meets last month before winning the 500 in 57.3 in the San Diego Indoor Games on Jan. 23.

He hoped to lower that mark--which moved him into a tie for second on the all-time national list--at the Sports Arena, but his primary objective was to test himself against Ryan.

Bussey grabbed the lead at the end of the first lap on the 160-yard track and pulled away to a nearly two-second victory over junior Travon Walton of Chino, who placed second in 59.75.

Bussey moved Taft from fourth to second on his leg of the mile relay, but Vallejo had a 50-yard lead on the Toreadors after the third leg and won in 3:29.90.

"I felt pretty good," the 6-foot-3 Bussey said of his anchor leg. "Some people say that tall people shouldn't be able to run well indoors, but I'm proving people wrong. I don't think it's hard. As long as you keep your body relaxed and don't get off balance, you'll do all right."

Siraki, a sophomore who finished fourth in the state Division I cross-country championships in November, was ecstatic after running 11:36.28 to Fleshman's 11:36.51 in the two-mile.

"It blows my mind that I beat her," Siraki said. "I was totally not expecting it. I wasn't even expecting to finish second."

The two-mile was billed as a battle between Fleshman and senior Trina Cox of Santa Rosa. When Cox chose to run the mile, Fleshman, a senior, became the favorite.

Fleshman, runner-up in the national cross-country championships in December, ran in second or third for much of the race before she and Siraki broke away from the pack with five laps left.

Siraki led with a lap left and kept Fleshman at bay by weaving in and out of lapped runners.

"I just waited too long," said Fleshman, who was fighting off a case of bronchitis. "But Anita ran a great race. I don't want to use the illness as an excuse."

Carroll, a sophomore, won the long jump with a leap of 18 feet 1 1/4 inches one day after concluding her season on the Rio Mesa junior varsity soccer team.

Carroll, defending Southern Section Division II champion in the 100 and 200, finished third in the 50-meter dash in a career-best 6.58 and ran a leg on the Spartans' 640-yard relay team that won its heat in 1:21.55.

Rymsza ran 2:02.19 in the 880 to defeat Mike Dickran of Rio Mesa, who clocked 2:02.68.

Junior Shane Hackett of Verdugo Hills placed second in the boys' pole vault with a career-best 15 feet.

Troy Becker of Malibu, who attended Agoura two years ago, won with a career-best 15-6.

Senior Tim Adrian of Moorpark was second in the discus--held at nearby USC--with a throw of 168 feet.

Senior Bridget Pearson of Hoover was third in the girls' pole vault at 11 feet.

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