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Track and Field / John Ortega : Keeping Up With Jones Proving Difficult

June 30, 1989|John Ortega

Angela Burnham of Rio Mesa High concluded a stellar high school track career with victories in the 100 and 200 meters in the state championships at Cerritos College earlier this month.

But Valley-area track fans might not have to wait long for another superb local sprinter to emerge--Marion Jones of Sherman Oaks will enter high school in the fall, although which school she will attend has not been decided.

Jones, 13, has personal bests of 12.02 seconds in the 100, 24.30 in the 200, and 56.98 in the 400. And West Valley Eagles' Coach Roger Lipkis says that she hasn't come close to tapping her potential.

"She's just starting to work on her start," Lipkis said of Jones, 5-foot-9, 130 pounds. "She hadn't done any (starting) block work until a couple of weeks ago. She'll run much faster before the summer is over."

That's saying something because Jones smashed Burnham's national age-13 record in the 200 (24.91) with a 24.30 clocking in the West Coast Classic at UC Irvine on Sunday.

She also won the 100 in 12.02 at Irvine, forcing Lipkis to re-evaluate his thinking.

"Until last week, I'd say the 100 was her worst event," Lipkis said. "But now, I don't know. To me, her best event is a toss-up between the 200 and 400, but the 100 isn't far behind."

Lipkis may change his opinion several times in the upcoming weeks. Jones will compete in all three events at The Athletics Congress Youth Athletic championships in Arlington, Tex., on July 6-8; the Track City International Classic in Eugene, Ore., on July 21-23; and the TAC Junior Olympic championships in Spokane, Wash., on July 28-30.

Lipkis expects Jones to challenge age-group records in the 100, 200 and 400 along the way.

"She's capable of getting all three before the summer's over," Lipkis said. "She should definitely get the 400 record."

Angela Rolfe, who won three consecutive state 400 titles for Dorsey High from 1987-89, set the age-13 national record of 55.2 in 1985. The 100 record of 11.7 (hand-timed) was also set that year, by Virginia Robertson of Missouri, Tex.

"She has some of the strongest legs I've ever seen on a sprinter her age," Lipkis said. "She's going to be a great one in high school. Maybe the best ever."

Missing in action: Burnham withdrew from last week's Pan American Junior Athletic championships in Santa Fe, Argentina, for several reasons, including the volatile political climate in the South American country and fatigue from a rigorous season that began in January.

"Her parents weren't real keen on her running there because of the violence," Rio Mesa co-Coach Brian FitzGerald said. "Plus, she was just exhausted from the last couple of months of competing, traveling and graduating. . . . It was her decision. She just felt like she needed a rest."

Burnham, Track and Field News' female high school Athlete of the Year in 1988, is expected to compete in international junior meets next month in New Brunswick, Canada, and at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

However, FitzGerald isn't expecting much.

"Her training hasn't been that consistent in the last few weeks for a variety of reasons," FitzGerald said. "Plus, she'll be doing more strength work in the next few weeks compared to sprint work."

Add Burnham: The five-time state sprint champion was honored by Gatorade as its national female high school track and field athlete in a ceremony at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Universal City on Thursday.

Burnham, who is bound for UCLA, successfully defended her 100 and 200 titles in this year's state championships. She was Gatorade's state female Athlete of the Year in 1988.

Arreola update: No decision has been made concerning Darcy Arreola's membership on the U. S. team for the World University Games in Duisburg, West Germany, Aug. 22-30.

When Arreola placed seventh in the 1,500 in the TAC championships in Houston two weeks ago, she appeared to have been the second collegiate qualifier--behind Suzy Favor of Wisconsin--on the national team.

But Alisa Harvey, who finished sixth, contends that she was the second qualifier, despite having completed her athletic eligibility at Tennessee in 1987.

Laverne Sweat of Norfolk State, the World University Games women's team manager, said that Harvey might be eligible for the team if she graduated from Tennessee in 1988, as she claims.

"The rules state that you are eligible for the team if you graduate during the previous year, or are still attending school in graduate classes," Sweat said. "But we still haven't determined if that is the case with Alisa."

Right idea, wrong time: It's billed as the "Four-Minute Mile Challenge." But the chances of the special high school race in the Jack in the Box Invitational living up to its name are slim and none.

It's not because a talented field won't be assembled for the race, but rather the late date of the meet virtually assures that all of the runners will be past peak condition, both physically and mentally.

The event is scheduled for Aug. 6 at UCLA and most of the invited runners took part in their respective state championships earlier this month.

Francis O'Neill of Escondido San Pasqual, Coley Candaele of Carpinteria and Todd Lewis of Burbank, for instance, all posted personal bests in finishing 1-2-3 in the 1,600 meters in the California state championships June 3.

The fastest runner in the field is Chris Lewis of Mead High in Spokane, Wash., with a nation-leading 1,600 mark that converts to a mile time of 4 minutes, 6.1 seconds.

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