Locke High, defending girls' champion for the last two years, is hoping to maintain its dominance with a largely new cast tonight in the City track and field championships at Birmingham High.
Field events begin at 4 p.m., with the first running event set for 4:30. The first four finishers in each event advance to the State meet next Friday and Saturday at Cerritos College.
In winning two straight team titles with the identical total of 76 points, Locke relied on veterans Choo Choo Knighten (now at UCLA) and Tesha Giddings (now at Texas).
If Locke does make it three straight, and the Times Dope Sheet has it favored to win with 62 points, the Saints will do it with a very different type of team--namely, a very young one.
The heart of the squad is built around two freshmen--sprinter LeAnn Tinkshell and hurdler LaTanya Davenport. Tinkshell leads the City in both the 100-meter dash (11.8 seconds) and in the 200 (25.14), and Davenport is second in the 100 low hurdles (14.20). Both also run on the relay teams.
Another freshman, Debra Hamilton, who has only been running since March, has the second fastest time in the 800 (2:21.09).
There would have been no doubt about the winner of the girls' team title this year had middle-distance runner Kim McAllister, yet another Locke freshman, not been declared academically ineligible just before the end of the league season. She was and still is the easy leader in both the 400 (55.6) and 800 (2:12.62).
As it is, Crenshaw, figured to score 47 points, is still within striking distance. Van Nuys, Granada Hills, Fremont, Dorsey and University are not far behind.
In the boys' division, Taft, led by talented sophomore Quincy Watts, will be trying to win its first City title.
Watts has the City's fastest times in both the 100 (10.56) and 200 (20.97), and anchors City-leading relay teams in the 400 (41.31) and 1,600 (3:17.0).
In addition, teammates Keith Franklin in the high jump (6-8) and junior Jay Borick in the pole vault (14-3) should both score well.
Taft is projected to score 54 points, followed by Poly at 36, Fremont at 28 and Locke at 26.
While Watts should have the sprints to himself, the 400 figures be very competitive, with Locke's Vincent Thompson (47.82), Fremont's Mark Douglas (47.90) and Westchester's Kent Johnson (47.99) all within two strides of one another.
Thompson, who finished second in the 800 in last year's State meet while running for Ganesha High, has the state's fastest time at 1:51.51 but could be pushed to an even faster clocking by Norlan Ewell of Palisades (1:54.99) and Chris Stiles of Verdugo Hills (1:55.57).
Walter Harris of Banning, in the 300 intermediate hurdles, is the only defending champion in the boys' division with a chance to repeat. Last year he won in 37.75. This year he has a best of 37.79.