Whenever Hawthorne and Muir square off on the track, it's like watching a round of Ali versus Frazier.
The two schools are the premier heavyweights of high school girls' track, and each is capable of delivering a knockout punch.
Last week, Muir roared to a national record in the 1,600-meter relay, edging Hawthorne to claim the Southern Section 4-A title. According to Hawthorne's Tami Stiles, that didn't sit too well with her teammates.
"When Muir set that record last week, it got us mad," Stiles said. "We decided we had to get one for us. They got theirs, so we had to get ours."
Saturday night, in the Masters meet at Mt. San Antonio College, Stiles and Hawthorne were as good as their word, streaking to a national record of 45.11 in the 400-meter relay, trimming .02 off the old mark set by Berkeley in 1981.
Muir, of course, with Stiles' arch-rival Carrie Franklin running a powerful anchor leg, was just a tick back, timed in 45.23.
"I could hear her coming because she was breathing 'choo, choo, choo choo,' " said Stiles. "I told myself I just had to hold her off. Now, I've got to get her in the 100."
That may be more difficult since Frnaklin looked very impressive later in the evening, winning the 100 in 11.61, the best in the nation this year.
Franklin, who also won the 100 low hurdles and ran the third leg on Muir's winning 1,600-relay team, isn't discounting Stiles, but she's already setting her sights on Locke's dynamic duo of Chewuakii (Choo Choo) Knighten and Tesha Giddens. The showdown will take place in Sacramento's Hughes Stadium next Friday and Saturday.
"I'm really running well, now," said Franklin. "But I'm going to have to beat Choo Choo and Tesha. I don't know about another national record, but we've worked hard and we'll (she and her teammates) see what happens."
Another national record-setter was Lompoc Cabrillo's George Porter who ran a 35.32, undercutting the hand-timed best of 35.3 (35.54 electronic) in the 300-meter hurdles set by Arthur Blake of Haines City, Fla., in 1984.
Porter, who banged his knee last Wednesday in qualifying for the Masters in the 110 hurdles, was pleased with his time, but believes he can go faster.
"My knee was really sore in the 110s," said Porter, who qualified third in the 110s behind Pasadena's cat-quick Damon Thomas. "I hurt it Wednesday when we had to run that rerun. But it didn't hurt as much in the longer race because I could stretch it out.
"But it's funny. I really felt slow going over the first couple hurdles. Then I felt strong later in the race. I know I can go faster next week."
Another athlete who is expecting big things next week is Capistrano Valley's Brian Bluetreich, who heaved the shot 69-6 1/2, the all-time California prep best. His effort surpassed the 69-3 1/2 by Jim Neidhart of Newport Harbor in 1973. Neidhart is now billed as The Anvil in his professional wrestling career.
"It didn't really feel good when I threw it," Bluetreich said of his winning throw. "I felt better when I was warming up."
The top five qualifiers advanced to Sacramento. Hawthorne's boys' team appears to be the odds-on favorite to claim its third straight State title, despite the recent loss of sprinter Henry Thomas. Seniors Sean Kelly and Michael Marsh have picked up the slack and the Cougars appear unbeatable.
For the second week in a row, a race had to be rerun. After a collision in the 800 meters, meet officials, decided the jostling had affected the order of finish and it was run again a half hour after most of the crowd of 4,000 had already headed for home. In the first race, Compton's Kim Milligan won. In the second running, Sherrie Smith of Woodbridge won in the time of 2:13.94. Milligan finished third.