From the start of the season, track and field aficionados assumed that the Muir High girls would win the CIF Southern Section 4-A title.
Few suspected that the Mustangs could also win the boys' Division 4-A championship.
Even Clyde Turner, coach of the Mustang boys, said he was skeptical about the possibility.
"Even as of right now, I feel extremely fortunate and surprised to be in this position," he said.
But that's what could happen when the CIF divisional track finals are held at noon Saturday at Cerritos College.
Based on qualifying marks in both divisions, Muir appears to be the team to beat for both the boys' and girls' titles.
That would not be a CIF first by any means although it has not happened with regularity. Hawthorne was the last school to accomplish the feat in 1988.
Going into the finals, the Muir girls appear to have the easier road to the title. The Mustangs, who have never finished worse than fifth in the division in seven seasons under Coach Jim Brownfield, are bidding for their second consecutive title. Brownfield is not afraid to call his squad the favorite.
"We feel that if you're going to win the CIF title you have to beat us," he said. "You have to go through Muir if you want to win the title.
"We're the team to beat. The only teams that can score over 40 points beside us are Hawthorne and Mission Viejo. . . . We would have to not be motivated or have a major disaster to get us out of it."
Do not expect that to happen.
The Mustangs are paced by sprinters Inger Miller, junior Taminika Terry and freshman Deanna Knowles. Miller, who has signed a national letter of intent to attend USC, has the fastest marks in the nation in the 100- and 200-meter dashes this season. She has run the 100 in 11.48 seconds and the 200 in 23.57.
Terry and Knowles have also qualified in both the 100 and 200 and combine with Miller to form three-quarters of the 400-meter relay team, which has the fastest time in the nation (46.07). The Mustangs are also among the national leaders in the 1,600-meter relay with a best of 3:49.59.
Brownfield said his team is also looking for top performances from Rhonda Robinson in the 800-meter run, Akua Sutherland in the 100-meter hurdles and triple jump and Janelle Harvey in the 100 and 300 hurdles.
"Our solid people are the sprinters but if those three come through, they are the ones that can pull us away from the other (teams)," Brownfield said.
As for the Muir boys, Turner said the race is a considerably more close. The team's strongest challenge, he said, should come from Nogales, San Bernardino, Eisenhower and Hawthorne.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's still wide open," he said. "It's a question of whether we can come through with our key guys."
That means the Mustangs will need strong performances from sprinters Mike Sulcer and Marquette Ennis and hurdlers Andre Devezin, Dereck Ferrell and Vince Grant.
Sulcer, a senior, has been one of the leading sprinters in the CIF with qualifying marks of 48.62 in the 400 meters and 22.19 in the 200. He also competes on both the 400 and 1,600 relay teams that posted the fastest qualifying marks of 41.70 and 3:16.57 in the 4-A preliminaries last week.
Ennis also is expected to be among the top finishers in the 100 with a qualifying mark of 11.09 seconds. Devezin ranks among the leaders in the 110-meter high hurdles with a qualifying time of 14.89.
Turner said Sulcer has probably been the biggest surprise. "Last year was his first year ever of running track and this year he has just done a tremendous job for us," Turner said. "He's really made a lot of progress."
Brownfield thinks the Mustang boys have a good chance to wind up as state champions, an accomplishment the girls pulled off last year.
"It all depended how the guys got started and they got off to a good start," he said. "Over the past few months they've been the only team that's been able to score over 20 points (on dope sheets) for the state meet."
But Turner said he is not ready to focus that far ahead. He is more concerned about guiding the Mustangs to their first 4-A championship since 1987.
"We started off the year doing very well at the Sunkist (indoor) meet, which gave our team incentive to push it further if we possibly can," he said. "We've already accomplished our goal of winning a (Pacific) league title and our next goal is to win CIF."
The coach said any talk of a state championship is still premature.
"When people talk like that we all must remember that every team that goes out at the start of the season is eyeing a league, CIF or state title," he said. "But only one team can win a state title and it takes a lot of hard work."
Not that the Mustangs are not working hard at achieving that goal.
"We don't have the Corey Ealys or the Ray Browns or the Ric Ervins on our team this year," he said. "We just have a bunch of hard-working guys who want to do their best."
Turner said both the girls' and boys' teams are motivated to win championships because it would be a first for the school and perhaps the CIF.
"As far as we know, there's no school in the CIF that's ever won four (major) titles in one year and our school's got a chance to do that," he said.
Muir has already won CIF titles in football, having tied with Santa Barbara for the Division II championship, and in basketball, where it won a 4-AA title.
If the Mustangs run true to form, the third and fourth titles might not be far behind.