Senior Chris Morgan of Taft High set a region record of 13.75 in the boys' 110-meter high hurdles on Friday on the first day of the state track and field championships before 6,731 at Hughes Stadium.
Sophomore teammate Noah Smith zipped to a wind-aided time of 21.30 in the 200.
But a botched baton pass on the final exchange of the 400 relay, three fouls by Morgan in the long jump and a disqualification in the 1,600 relay for running out of their lane doomed the Toreadors' chances at winning the state title.
Taft, which won its second consecutive City Section title last week, was regarded as a slight favorite over Long Beach Poly and Arroyo Grande entering the meet. But much of that was dependent on the Toreadors winning the 400 relay in a meet in which the top six finishers in each event score points on a 10-8-6-4-2-1 basis.
Taft ran a state-leading 41.21 to win the City title but finished a nonqualifying fifth in its heat in 42.21 after a horrendous final pass between Peiman Lahsaei and Smith.
"I don't know what happened," Smith said. "I don't know what happened. We just came out here and ran bad. We didn't practice that handoff during the week because Peiman had a blister. . . .
"We've just got to move on. We can't dwell on it. It's over."
Morgan failed to get off a fair jump in the long jump after advancing to the two previous state finals in the event, but he bounced back in the high hurdles.
He cut .14 seconds off his previous best, moving into a tie for second on the national list this year and breaking the region record of 13.84 set by Shelton Boykin of San Fernando in 1987.
Steve Caminiti of Crespi also shared the region record as his 13.7 hand-held clocking for the 120-yard high hurdles in 1964 converts to a 13.84 fully automatic clocking for the 110-meter distance.
"I felt it. I felt it," Morgan said of the hurdles. "I can run 13.5 easy, [in the final]. . . . I messed up the seventh hurdle. I stumbled coming off it. That's 13.5 right there."
Allyson Felix of L.A. Baptist and Seth Amoo of Highland each won heats in the girls' and boys' 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Felix ran 11.68 in the 100 and 23.51 in the 200.
Amoo ran a wind-aided 10.53 in the 100 and 20.89 in the 200.
Jason Lovell of Cleveland advance to finals in two events, winning his heat in the 400 in 47.81 and running the anchor leg the Cavaliers' team that won its heat in the 1,600 relay in 3:16.61.
Schquay Brignac of Taft, defending state champion in the girls' high jump, qualified in that event and in the long jump with a wind-aided 18-8 1/4.