SAN DIEGO — At many invitational track meets, coaches can be found trying to scape together enough able bodies to put together relay teams moments before the final call of the race.
But Poway Coach Dan Schaitel prides himself on not being among those coaches.
Schaitel put together the top girls' distance medley team in the nation last season. And last Saturday at the Pasadena Relays, the Titans ran the fastest distance medley time in the nation this season, 12:33.1.
The distance medley combines the talents of quarter-milers to milers. Last Saturday, sophomore Lauren Anderson, Hawaii's second-best miler last season, ran the first 1,200 meters in 3:56.0. Senior Heather Erickson followed with a 59.8 for 400 meters, the first time a Poway girl had broken the 60-second barrier. Junior Elizabeth Watkins ran 2:29.5 for 800 meters and senior Jennifer Sheflo, one of San Diego County's top distance runners, covered the final 1,600 in 5:05.8. All split times were hand timed.
Sheflo was the hero when Poway put together the national best, 12:06.12, last season at the Mt. San Antonio Relays. Jennifer Watkins opened with a 3:45.27 for 1,200 meters. Carma Bertran ran 1:00.18 over 400 meters, Elizabeth Watkins ran 2:20.10 in the 800 and Sheflo finished with a 4:59.80 anchor leg.
"I told Shef before the race if we got the baton within four yards of anyone, we should win," Schaitel said. "And she took me seriously."
Sheflo trailed Edison's Nicole Ritchot by four yards at the start of the anchor leg, but had taken the lead by the end of the first lap. Sheflo held off Ritchot, who went on to finish third in the state in the 1,600.
Schaitel believes this team is potentially better than last season's. His goal is to break 12 minutes, something that has been done only twice in prep history.
The meet to watch will be the Mt. SAC Relays on April 27.
Add track: The prestigious Arcadia Invitational track meet will lure most of the area's top athletes away from the Poway Titan/Pepsi Track Fest on April 13. The Arcadia meet will be held at Arcadia High School with field events starting at 4 p.m. and running events at 6:30 p.m.
El Camino's Darron Norris will face the state sprint champion, Henry Thomas of Hawthorne, in the 100 and 200 meters at Arcadia. Norris has bests of 10.7 and 22.4 this season. Thomas is in top form. He ran a 10.25 for 100 meters two weeks ago and ran a 44.5 on his leg of Hawthorne's record setting 1,600-meter relay at the 58th Texas Relays at Austin, Tex. on Saturday
Other qualifiers include Morse's John Denny (49.0), who will run the 400. Serra's Jeff Haux (1:56.8) and El Camino's John Groulx (1:59.15) will run the 800. And Valhalla's Mark Dani (4:20.34) and Point Loma's David Rees (4:21.7) have qualified for the 1,600.
Hilltop's Ellis del Sol (9:37.9), Serra's Jeff Wood (9:35.7), Mount Carmel's Paul Boudreaux (9:42.6) and Southwest's Shawn Sandoval will run the 3,200. Sandoval, who has been injured most of this season, ran a 9:15.2 at Arcadia in 1984.
San Dieguito's Travis Knox will run the 110 high hurdles (14.5) and the 300 intermediate hurdles (39.6). Mount Carmel's Jim Chapon, the leading long jumper in the state at 23-5 will face Elgin Caldwell, who has jumped 23-9 for Tempe High in Arizona.
San Diego will send five pole vaulters to Arcadia. Mount Carmel's three 14-6 vaulters, Steve Whitton, Eric Bean and Scott Johnston will be joined by Fallbrook's Sean Hickey (14-0 and San Pasqual's Curt Brown. And Serra's Joe Bowser (53-7 1/2) qualified in the shot put.
Grossmont's Darcy Arreola qualified for two events in the girls competition. She will run the 800 (2:15.22) and the 1,600 (5:03.05). Joining Arreola in the 800 will be Mount Carmel's Lesley Noll (2:18.51). The 1,600 field will include University City's Laura Chapel (5:09) and San Pasqual's Kerry Panno (5:10.24). Vista's Robin Eager (11:14.5) will run the 3,200.
Morse's April Freow (12.2) will run the 100. Southwest's Tracy Crawford qualified for the shot put (38-8 1/2) and the discus (133-7). Valhalla's Kim Reed (5-6) and San Pasqual's Cari Luttio are in the high jump.
All of these athletes have been invited but haven't officially accepted.
Patriot Protest: The Santana-Patrick Henry baseball game, which began on March 15 and ended in protest, will finally be completed at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Patrick Henry.
Here's the situation: Santana is leading, 7-1, with two out in the seventh inning. The Patriots have the bases loaded and Eric Karros is at bat.
Patriot Coach Bob Imlay called the protest after an odd turn of events involving Patriot center fielder Norman Whitehead. Whitehead hit a bases-loaded ground-rule double to cut the Santana lead to 7-3 with no outs in the seventh inning.