Muir High of Pasadena will be one of the favorites in the boys and girls CIF Southern Section 4-A track finals at 11 a.m. Saturday at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
The Mustangs, especially strong in the sprints, are expected to battle Hawthorne for the boys championship and Hawthorne and Thousand Oaks for the girls title. Hawthorne is defending champion in both divisions.
For Muir to challenge for the boys title, the Mustangs will need strong performances from seniors Corey Ealy in the 100- and 200- meter dashes and Marcus Robertson in the 800-meter run and 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
Ealy won the 100 and 200 at last year's divisional finals and has the second best time in the state in both events this season behind Quincy Watts from Taft of Woodland Hills. Ealy qualified for the finals with times of 10.85 in the 100 and 22.02 in the 200.
Robertson turned in a strong performance in the CIF prelims last week, posting swift times of 1:55.08 in the 800 meters and 38.69 in the 300 hurdles.
Top performers for the Muir girls are Stacie Moore in the 400-meter dash and Leslie Allen in the 300-meter low hurdles. Moore, a freshman, turned in a fast time of 57.05 seconds in the prelims.
The Muir boys and girls are also expected to contend for first in the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.
The San Gabriel Valley also has strong title contenders among the boys and girls in the 3-A Division. Duarte may be best in the boys division and Pomona leads the 3-A girls.
The Duarte boys, who finished second last year, are especially strong in the sprints with seniors Martin Cannady and Tony Salter. Cannady won the 100 and 200 meters at the divisional finals last season and was the fastest qualifier in both events at the 3-A prelims.
Pomona's girls will rely mostly on senior Janeene Vickers, who will compete in the 100 meters, the 100 and 300 hurdles and anchors the 400-meter relay team. Vickers, who won three events in leading the Red Devils to the title last year, will attend UCLA.
Pomona should receive a strong challenge from El Monte, led by all-around standout LaShawn Simmons. She is among the favorites in the 100 meters, 100 hurdles and long jump.
Perennial power Azusa Pacific University will be bidding for its fifth consecutive title in the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics track and field championships today through Saturday at Arkansas Tech in Russellville.
A Cougar victory would also mark the first time in NAIA history that a team has won five titles in a row in any sport.
Azusa Pacific is considered among the teams to beat again along with Wayland Baptist, Prairie View of Texas and Adams State of Colorado.
The Cougars may not have as much front-line talent as in recent years with the graduation of Innocent Egbunike in the sprints and Christian Okoye in the weight events.
But Azusa Pacific may have more depth than last year with Nigerians Patrick Nwankwo in the sprints, Ike Mbadugha in sprints and hurdles and Herbie Akpom in the hurdles and long jump. Nwankwo is the defending NAIA champion in the 100-meter dash and Akpom is favored in the 110-meter high hurdles with a top time of 13.85 seconds.
The Cougars also figure to score heavily in the decathlon, led by sophomores Dave Dangleis of Azusa and Rich Verbal of Glendora. Dangleis has a top score this season of 6,849 points and Verbal has a best of 7,024.
Azusa Pacific also may have the favorite in the pole vault with Tim Lomheim, who has a top mark of 16-7. Ade Olukoju, a freshman from Nigeria, is among the favorites in the shot put and discus.
The Cougars are coached by Terry Franson, who has been selected NAIA coach of the year the last five seasons.
Pitcher Dale Buzzard, who led the University of La Verne to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference baseball title, has been named the conference player of the year.
Buzzard, a junior who also plays outfield, posted an 8-2 record and 4.63 earned-run average. He had an 8-1 record in conference games.
La Verne, which lost to UC San Diego in the NCAA Division III playoffs last week, also placed infielders Dominic Copas and Rod Wright, outfielder Robert Carreon and pitcher Kevin Engle on the all-conference first team. All are juniors.
Copas and Wright were among the SCIAC leaders in hitting. Copas batted .386 with 11 home runs and 40 runs batted in and Wright hit .401. Engle had a record of 8-5 with a 4.79 earned-run average.
Other first-team selections included first baseman Larry Schmadeka of Claremont-Mudd, outfielder Doug Madgic of Occidental, designated hitter Jim Delzel of Occidental, catcher Tim Klement of Occidental and catcher Peter Spinetta of Pomona-Pitzer.