Taft Star Cleared His Biggest Hurdle

TIMES STAFF WRITER

He didn't run under 10.60 in the 100 meters, span 24 feet in the long jump or run on a state-champion 400 relay team as he hoped to do.

But Chris Morgan of Taft High did attain his biggest goal of the season on June 2 when he ran a wind-aided 13.59 in the boys' 110 high hurdles to win his second consecutive title in the state track and field championships at Sacramento City College's Hughes Stadium.

The victory came a day after Morgan ran a region record of 13.75 in his qualifying heat and cemented his second consecutive selection as The Times' Valley/Ventura County boys' athlete of the year.

Jamil Smith of Palmdale won his second consecutive triple jump title in the state meet. Seth Amoo of Highland won his first championship in the 200, as did Jason Lovell of Cleveland in the 400.

Yet none were as dominant as the Arizona State-bound Morgan, who won the state final by a whopping .23 seconds and has four of the top six times in the state this year.

"My final," Morgan said, when asked if a particular race stood out. "If it hadn't been wind-aided, it would have been faster than my heat."

Morgan's 13.75 effort in qualifying moved him into a tie for second on this year's national list and broke the region record of 13.84 shared by Steve Caminiti of Crespi and Shelton Boykin of San Fernando.

Caminiti's time was converted from a mark in the 120-yard high hurdles in 1964 and Boykin's best came in winning the 1987 City Section title.

A greater emphasis in technical training keyed Morgan's improvement in the high hurdles, but hurt his performances in the 100 and long jump.

Although he consistently ran a strong second leg on a 400 relay team that won the City title in a then-state leading 41.21, his season bests of 10.94 in the 100 and 23-3 1/2 in the long jump fell short of his career bests of 10.72 and 23-8 1/2.

Morgan placed third in the 100 and second in the long jump in the City championships to help Taft win its second consecutive team title, but he never ran a great 100.

"Most of his training went into defending his state title and being the top dog in the nation," said Dale Morgan, Chris' father and hurdles coach. "Because of that, his conditioning wasn't as good. He is stronger than he was last year and he is faster than he was last year. But his times [in the 100] didn't show it because he couldn't bounce back from the hurdles the way he did last year."

Morgan's focus on clearing the 39-inch hurdles as quickly as possible helped him to three career bests this season, but he figures a sub-13.50 clocking is possible in the National Scholastic outdoor championships at North Carolina State on Friday and Saturday.

"I'm just much better technically than I was last year," he said. "There are so many different things that I'm doing better this year."

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ALL-REGION BOYS' TRACK AND FIELD TEAM

FIRST TEAM

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Name School Year Event Seth Amoo Highland Senior 100, 200 meters

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Arizona State-bound Amoo won the 200 and placed fourth in the 100 in the state championships after winning Southern Section Division I titles in both events. His best of 20.82 in the 200 is the fastest in the state this year and moved him to second on the all-time region list. His 10.63 best in the 100 ties him for ninth on the all-time region list.

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Name School Year Event Jason Lovell Cleveland Senior 400 meters

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Lovell, who signed with Texas Tech, won his first state and second consecutive City Section title. He broke 48 seconds a state-best eight times, capped by a 47.03 clocking that moved him to fourth on the all-time region list.

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Name School Year Event Chris Wells-Anders El Camino Real Senior 800 meters

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Wells-Anders won his second consecutive City title and placed fourth in the state championships. He had a season best of 1:52.45 and broke 1:53 two other times.

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Name School Year Event Tony Ahr Burroughs Senior 1,600 meters

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Ahr, who will attend UC Davis, was among the region's most improved runners. He cut his best from 4:31 at the start of the season to a school-record 4:14.80 and placed seventh in the state final.

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Name School Year Event Mark Nevers Oak Park Senior 3,200 meters

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Nevers, who will attend Brigham Young, placed third in the state championships after winning the 3,200 in the Southern Section Masters Meet in a school-record 9:07.38. He lowered his best to 9:06.55 on Saturday to place fifth in the Golden West Invitational in Sacramento.

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Name School Year Event Chris Morgan Taft Senior 110-meter high hurdles

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The two-time Valley/Ventura County athlete of the year set a region record of 13.75 in a qualifying heat of the state championships before winning his second consecutive final in a wind-aided 13.59.

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Name School Year Event Jon Williams Notre Dame Senior 300-meter intermediate hurdles

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Williams, who signed with UCLA, placed fourth in the state final and won his second consecutive Southern Section Division III title. His best of 37.42 ranks fourth on the all-time region list.

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School Event Taft 400-meter relay

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The Toreadors failed to advance to the state final after a bad pass in their qualifying heat, but the foursome of Morgan, junior Peiman Lahsaei and sophomores Noah and Steve Smith--no relation--won the City title in 41.21 to move to third on the all-time region list.

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School Event Cleveland 1,600-meter relay

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Injuries prevented the Cavaliers from running as fast as they had hoped, but seniors Lovell and Nikardo Beckford, and juniors Randy Bundy and Sergio Marquez won the City title and placed second in the state meet. Their season best of 3:15.10 ranks sixth on the all-time region list.

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Name School Year Event Tunde Alonge Rio Mesa Senior High jump

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Alonge, who regards basketball as his top sport, won the Ventura County title, was runner-up in the Southern Section Division II final and tied for third in Masters Meet. He had a best of 6-6.

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Name School Year Event Makisi Haleck Thousand Oaks Senior Pole vault

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Haleck, who has accepted an appointment to the Air Force Academy, cleared a Ventura County record of 15-8 to tie for second in the state championships. He won the Southern Section Division I title and his second consecutive Ventura County championship.

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Name School Year Event Jamil Smith Palmdale Senior Long jump, Triple jump

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Washington State-bound Smith won his second consecutive state title in the triple jump and won that event and the long jump in the Southern Section Division I finals. He bounded a region record of 50-10 3/4 in the triple jump and had a best of 23-7 1/4 in the long jump.

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Name School Year Event Mike Beerer Crescenta Valley Senior Shotput

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UC Irvine-bound Beerer finished a disappointing sixth in the Southern Section Division I final, but his best of 58-4 1/2 was nearly four feet better than anyone else in the region.

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Name School Year Event Ryan Creadick Camarillo Senior Discus

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Creadick raised his career best to 169-9, won the Ventura County title and placed fourth in the Southern Section Division I final. His eighth-place finish in the Masters Meet was mired in controversy after several witnesses--including Arizona assistant John Frazier--said his final effort was good enough to place him among the top five finishers before an official erroneously ruled it outside of the throwing sector.

SECOND TEAM

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Name School Year Event Wes Felix Valencia) Senior 100 meters Noah Smith Taft Sophomore 200 meters Jose Galeana Littlerock) Senior 400 meters Daniel Clements Taft Senior 800 and 1,600 meters Robert Kubler Crespi Senior 3,200 meters Chris Foster Ventura Senior 110-meter HH, 300 IH

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Birmingham, 400-meter relay (Sammy Johnson, Senior; D'Andre Sewell, Senior; Ramal Porter, Junior; Chad Green, Sophomore)

Taft, 1,600-meter relay (Peiman Lashaei, Junior; Noah Smith, Sophomore; Mike Pratt, Sophomore; Paul Pratt, Sophomore)

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Name School Year Event Chadd Smith Camarillo Senior High jump Adam Goldberg Birmingham Senior Pole vault Chris Morgan Taft Senior Long jump Ken Myers Rio Mesa Senior Triple jump Ryan Creadick Camarillo Senior Shotput Greg Root Highland Senior Discus

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