Locke High School Coach Jimmy Lee, having seen his teams win two straight City girls' track titles, started the season thinking that maybe this was a rebuilding year.
After all, he had lost star sprinters Choo Choo Knighten and Tesha Giddens to graduation, and they were not the kind of sprinters who are easily replaced.
But Lee's attitude changed when he discovered he had a gold mine of freshman sprinters, and his team's talent overcame a mistake by one of the freshmen Saturday night as Locke won a third straight title at Birmingham High School.
Locke scored 51 points, turning back a surprising Van Nuys team led by Kelley Peacock. Peacock scored 36 of Van Nuys' 42 points to give Locke a much tougher time than expected.
Locke also had to overcome a mistake by sprinter LeAnn Tinkshell, who false started and was disqualified in the 100-meter dash, a race that Tinkshell was almost certain to score points in.
Tinkshell redeemed herself by winning the 200 in 25.11 seconds and anchoring the 400-meter relay team to victory. Needing two points to win, the Saints got 10 points, winning the 1,600-meter relay as Debra Hamilton, who has been running only since March, ran a 56.6 anchor leg to edge out Crenshaw's Sareana Smith.
In the boys' competition, Taft, led by sophomore Quincy Watts, became only the third San Fernando Valley team and the first in 10 years to win the title.
Watts won the 100-meter dash in 10.62, the 200 in 21.16 seconds and anchored Taft to a 41.13 victory in the 400-meter relay.