A decision last Friday night by twins Mark and Eric Mastalir to run just one race apiece--Mark the 1,600 meters and Eric the 3,200 meters--will almost certainly cost Jesuit High School of Carmichael the State boys' track and field team title and probably will result in a race among Woodland Hills Taft, Madera and Sacramento Johnson.
The meet will begin today at 11 a.m. at Cerritos College in Norwalk with the discus preliminaries. The remaining field events are set for 4 p.m., and the running events are scheduled to start at 5. Saturday's finals will begin with the discus at noon. The remaining field events will start at 5 p.m., with the first running event at 6.
The Mastalirs are far and away the best high school distance runners in the state. Between them, they lead the nation at both 1,600 and 3,200 meters. They seemed a cinch to finish 1-2 in the 1,600 and figured to finish either 1-2 or 1-3 in the 3,200, all of which would have resulted in 34 to 36 points.
That probably would have given Jesuit a six- to eight-point advantage over Taft, Madera and Sacramento Johnson.
"I left the decision up to the boys," Jesuit Coach Walt Lang said. "They felt they would each like to run just one quality race and be sure of winning an individual title. What it came down to was that they placed more importance on an individual title than the team title."
Both boys will be out to break state records. Mark will be gunning for the 1,600 record of 4 minutes 5.4 seconds set by Mark Schilling of Garden Grove in 1972. Eric will be trying to break the 3,200 record of 8:44.9 set by Eric Hulst of Laguna Beach in 1975.
With Jesuit seemingly out of the team title race, the three top contenders are, for the most part, matched up in the same events.
Sophomore Quincy Watts of Taft, Ron McCree, the defending state 100 champion from Madera, and Curtis Rogers of Johnson are all entered in both the 100 and 200 and will also anchor their respective 400 relay teams.
All three ran in the Arcadia Invitational seven week ago. McCree edged Watts in the 100, 10.75 seconds to 10.85, and the 200, 21.37 to 21.39. Johnson failed to place in either race but has since run 10.52 and 20.9. He did win the Arcadia long jump and leads the state at 24 feet 11 inches.
Madera and Johnson are also in the 1,600 relay, but Taft, which has the fastest time in the city at 3:17.03, missed a chance to qualify for the state meet when one of its runners decided to attend the prom rather than run the relay in the City finals.
Besides outstanding performances in the sprints, relays and distance races, there probably will be an explosive triple jump. Seven jumpers have exceeded 49 feet, among them Marcus Hooks of Lakewood, the national leader at 52-3 1/2.
The girls' team race is also expected to be a battle--but only for second.
Hawthorne, the overwhelming favorite, has the best time in the state in both the 400 and 1,600 relays, 45.60 and 3:45.57. Senior sprinter Tami Stiles is also the state leader in the 100, at 11.71, and the 200, at 23.61.
The fight for second appears to be among Long Beach Poly, which could score in as many as five events; Pomona, featuring junior Janeene Vickers, the state leader in both the 100 and 300 low hurdles; Oakland; San Diego Southwest; Compton, and San Jose Gunderson.
The 3,200 could develop into the race of the meet. Tracey Williams of El Monte Mountain View is expected to set a fast early pace, running the first 1,600 at near five minutes.
Rebecca Chamberlain of San Jose Leigh stole the 3,200 title by running very fast fifth and sixth laps in last year's meet. If she tries to do the same this year, Laurie Chapman of San Jose Gunderson, the state leader at 10:15.2, could approach the state and national federation records of 10:04.2 set by Cory Schubert of San Jose Del Mar in 1983.
But then again, Melissa Sutton of Newbury Park, with a best of only 10:29.96, beat all of the other contenders at the Arcadia Invitational.
Hurdler Terry Johnson of Katella High School and triple jumper Debbie Orr of Ocean View are among the Orange County athletes favored to win state titles.
Johnson will attempt to become the first male county athlete to win two events at the state meet since Brian Blutreich of Capistrano Valley won the shotput and the discus in 1984.
Johnson has the top time in the 110-meter high hurdles (13.97) and the second-best time in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles (37.26).
Steve Kerho of Mission Viejo (1982) was the last county athlete to win both events at the state meet.
Orr has the best mark in the state in the triple jump at 39-feet 4-inches. She also is entered in the high jump along with Anaheim's Yleana Carrasco. Both have personal-best marks of 5-10.
Other county athletes who figure to advance to Saturday's finals in the boys' events include Servite pole vaulter Steve Williams, Edison shotputter Kaleaph Carter and Corona del Mar discus thrower Michael Bain.
The girls' 800 meters has three county entries. Maggie Henson of Newport Harbor (2:09.17), freshman Kathy Grayson of Mission Viejo (2:10.87) and Nicole Ritchot of Edison (2:12.20) are expected to advance to the finals.
Henson, who will attend the University of Mississippi in the fall, also is among the favorites in the 1,600 meters, and Grayson will anchor Mission Viejo's 1,600-meter relay team.
Shellie Lovati of El Modena has the state's third-best mark in the shotput (44-1 1/2) and also will compete in the discus, where her personal best is 135-10.