Even as a Sophomore, Collins a Quick Study

If Ebony Collins were on a stage, fans would be tossing her roses and begging for an encore.

What the sophomore sprinter from Long Beach Wilson accomplished this month at the state track and field championships in Sacramento will be long remembered as one of the best individual performances by a female athlete in state history.

She won four gold medals and ran national bests in three events.

Her winning time of 40.10 seconds in the 300 hurdles was the second-fastest ever and a national sophomore record. She also won the 100 meters and ran legs on the winning 400 and 1,600 relay teams.

"It's like an adrenaline rush," Collins said. "The better I did, the more confident I got, and the crowd was intense."

For her performance, Collins has been chosen The Times' girls' track and field athlete of the year.

"I was amazed at the accomplishment, especially the 300 hurdles," Coach Terry Kennedy said.

Two weeks earlier, Collins won the 100 meters and 300 hurdles while finishing second in the 200 meters and 100 hurdles at the Southern Section championships.

At both meets, she helped lead Wilson to team titles.

Her hurdles coach, Shannon Fisher, came to Wilson just when Collins was checking in as a freshman.

"Talk about stumbling upon a pot of gold," Fisher said. "If she stays healthy, she can do anything."

The 5-foot-6 Collins has the combination of speed and endurance to compete in a variety of events. Wilson coaches intend to let her continue to experiment.

"She could probably long jump," Fisher said. "She could probably triple jump. She could probably high jump. Colleges will narrow her down to a specific event."

For now, the 300 hurdles appears to be her signature race, allowing her to show her speed and athleticism.

Collins' success has increased expectations and scrutiny.

"I feel more people are watching me now, so I have to make sure I do what I'm supposed to do in class and in track," she said.

Collins will compete at the World Youth Championships next month in Morocco.



Ebony Collins, Long Beach Wilson So. 100, 300 Low Hurdles
Won the 100 meters at the state championships in a nation-leading 11.50 seconds and the 300 low hurdles in a meet record of 40.10, good for a national sophomore record and the second-fastest performance of all time. Collins helped Wilson to the Southern Section Division I team title.
Sa'de Williams, Rancho Cucamonga So. 200, 400
Capped off undefeated season in the 400 with nation-leading 52.35 at the state meet and finished fourth in the 200 one hour later. At the Division I finals, she won the 400 and 200, finishing in 23.38, the second-fastest time in the nation, and led the Cougars to a tie for second.
Kauren Tarver, Serrano Fr. 800
Got off to a late start in track because her soccer team made the playoffs, but she came on to win the Division II title and place second in the Masters and the state meet.
Annie St. Geme, Corona del Mar Jr. 1,600
Won across the board, taking the Division III, Masters and state championships, where she ran 4:50.40 to win by more than four seconds.
Shannon Murakami, Saugus So. 3,200
Won the 1,600 in 4:50.71 and the 3,200 in 10:46.95 — for the fastest times of the day — in the Division I finals, then won the Masters and finished fourth at the state meet in the 3,200.
Leslie Mercado, Diamond Ranch Sr. 100 High Hurdles
In her second year of serious hurdling, Mercado won the state meet in a wind-aided 13.58 for the second-fastest time in the nation. She also won at the Division III finals and was second at Masters.
Long Beach Wilson 400 Relay
(Diana Carson, Jr., Ebony Collins, So., Tiana Hood, Sr., Angele Cooper, Fr.) Ran conservatively in winning the Division I and Masters meets before finishing in 44.84 to win the state meet and become the fifth-fastest team of all time.
Long Beach Wilson 1,600 Relay
(Tiana Hood, Sr., Marina Young, Sr., Ebony Collins, So., Angele Cooper, Fr.). Bruins did not run their "A" team until the Masters meet, which they won, and the state meet, where their winning time of 3:39.27 ranks second in the nation.
Jasmin Day, Costa Mesa Jr High Jump
A repeat selection — her sister, Sharon, was chosen in 2002 and 2003 — Jasmin won the Division III title, in a personal-best 5-9, and Masters before placing second at state, losing on misses.
Tori Pena, Edison Jr. Pole Vault
Won the Division II final in a meet-record 12-6, then won the Masters meet and placed second at state with 13-0 efforts.
Ashika Charan, Claremont Jr. Long Jump, Triple Jump
Won long and triple jumps at Division II finals and placed fourth in both at state. Her best of 40-9 1/2 in the triple jump at state ranks in the top 10 in the nation.
April Phillips, Long Beach Poly Sr. Shotput
Better known for her basketball talents, Phillips was also quite proficient in the shotput, winning the Division I and Masters titles and finishing third at state.
Sarah Barber, Lakewood St. Joseph Sr. Discus
Came through with a near-personal best of 150-3 to place third at the state meet. Two weeks earlier, she won the Division III title with a toss of 141-2.
Coaching Staff of the Year: Claremont
Head coach: Rich Ede. Assistants: Veronica Amarasekera, Jose Ancona, Michael Fletcher, Rob Lander, Jeremy Lingenfelter. In his 32nd year as the school's only girls' head coach, Ede guided the Wolfpack to the Southern Section Division III title.
Jazmin Woodruff, St. Mary's Academy Fr. 100
Elizabeth Olear, Louisville Jr. 200
Myra Hasson, Gardena Jr. 400
Kate Grace, Marlborough So. 800
Kauren Tarver, Serrano Fr. 1,600
Whitney Blue, Newport Harbor Jr. 3,200
Kimyon Broom, Gardena Serra Jr. 100 High Hurdles
Kiani Profit, Muir So. 300 Low Hurdles
Rancho Cucamonga 400 Relay
(Nicole Stone, Sr., Brianna Atkins, Fr., Allyson Stone, Jr., Sa'de Williams, So.)
Rancho Cucamonga 1600 Relay
(Nicole Stone, Sr., Brianna Atkins, Fr., Brittnay Crabb, Fr., Sa'de Williams, So.)
Khristina Curtis, Tustin Sr. High Jump
Allison Stokke, Newport Harbor So. Pole Vault
Shana Woods, Long Beach Poly Jr. Long Jump
Seqoiya Peggese, Long Beach Poly Jr. Triple Jump
Florida Siaosi, Sultana Jr. Shotput
Sarah Robles, San Jacinto Jr. Discus