Swain Overcomes Painful Setbacks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A sprained left ankle ended her cross-country season in November.

A persistent cold forced her to cut back training for two weeks in April.

A bruised left foot--suffered when an aunt accidentally backed a car over it--caused her to miss a few more workouts.

Yet, sophomore Treani Swain of Oakwood School in North Hollywood feels fortunate when comparing this track and field season to last year's.

Swain will run in a qualifying heat of the girls' 800 meters tonight in the state championships at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento after having her freshman season cut short by pulled muscles in her left hip.

Swain, whose season best of 2:10.96 ranks sixth among the 27 entrants, was expected to be a state finalist last year. But her season ended when she "felt something pull," in her left hip as she tried to pick up the pace in a 400-meter race of the Russell Cup at Carpinteria High.

"It was really disappointing," said the unassuming Swain. "I cried, but there wasn't anything I could do. I just had to take time and let myself heal."

Swain ran well during the first two months of cross-country last fall, but her season ended when she sprained her left ankle by stepping in a gopher hole while warming up for the Liberty League finals.

She came back to finish second in the 880-yard run in the L.A. Invitational indoor meet at the Sports Arena in January, but she ran the 400 and 1,600 meters as often as the 800 during the first two months of the outdoor season.

"We ran the 400 to work on her speed and the 1,600 to work on her endurance," Coach Eric Walter said. "Because of the injury [in cross-country], she lacked the base we would have liked."

Swain, whose season bests of 55.1 in the 400 and 5:07.9 in the 1,600 rank first and sixth on the yearly region list, started running track at age 6.

She was a sprinter for a few seasons before switching to the 1,500.

She began to focus on the 800 when she was 12 and her 2:09.00 clocking in the seventh grade would have ranked second on the 1998 U.S. high school list.

A superb 53.71 effort in the 400 in 1999 led to great expectations for her high school career at Oakwood, but she hasn't been distracted.

"I just go out there to run because I enjoy it," she said. "I don't worry about what other people are expecting me to do. If I go out there and run a [personal record], great. But I don't go into every race thinking I have to run a [personal record.]"

While Swain's main goal for the state meet is to break 2:10 in the 800 final on Saturday, seniors Anita Siraki of Hoover and Schquay Brignac of Taft will attempt to defend their titles in the girls' 3,200 and high jump, respectively.

Siraki is expected to battle soon-to-be Stanford teammate Sara Bei of Santa Rosa Montgomery in a race that could be the first state final to have two girls break 10:10.

"Sara is going to be very formidable," Hoover Coach Greg Switzer said. "Sara is going to run [under 10:10], so [Anita] is going to have to run very fast to beat her."

Siraki's career best of 10:14.2 was set last season, but it should fall Saturday as the state championships will be the first meet this season in which she'll run only one race.

Brignac, who has signed with Washington State, qualified for the state meet in four events, but dropped the 100 high hurdles and triple jump to focus on the high jump and long jump.

She cleared a season best of 5-9 to win her fourth consecutive City Section title in the high jump last week.

Sophomore Allyson Felix of L.A. Baptist is the fastest entry in the 100 at 11.53 and third fastest in the 200 at 23.31.

Senior Melissa Astete of Birmingham, runner-up in the pole vault last year, is tied for second on the state list at 13-0.

Senior Porchea Carroll of Rio Mesa, runner-up in the 100 last year, is the No. 3 entry at 11.68 in that event and will also compete in the long jump and 400 relay.

Senior Sierra Hauser-Price of Notre Dame is entered in the 100, 200 and 1,600 relay. She is a three-time state finalist in the 100 and a two-time finalist in the 200.

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