Gauging a team's future is always easier after the Arcadia Invitational, one of the nation's most prestigious and contentious high school track and field gatherings.
And, if the 24th annual meet was any indication, Hawthorne and Morningside highs can look forward to a bright future, provided some of their top athletes regain health.
The Cougars boys' relay team captured the 400-meter race with a time of 41.66, before finishing last in the 1,600 meters. But Hawthorne surely would have finished better if Demond Smith, the third runner in the leg, had not been hobbled.
The Morningside girls' 400-meter relay team turned in the nation's fastest time, 46.91, before finishing second to national powerhouse William Penn of Philadelphia in the 1,600 meters.
How fast the Monarchs might have gone if Sanoma Nickson, the second runner on the leg, had not been hampered by a hamstring injury is up for debate.
The Morningside boys' team won the 1,600-meter relay in 3:18.41.
"We're just about on schedule," Morningside assistant coach Johnny Estrada said. "Everybody practices to win. It just so happened we were able to win the 400 tonight in a good time. We're right on schedule. If we can just stay healthy and stay competitive, I think we'll do all right down the road."
A sore hamstring prevented Hawthorne's Smith from reaching his personal goals in the hurdling events. Smith finished second in the 110 highs (14.49) before staggering to a third-place finish (38.49) in the 300 intermediate hurdles. He also limped in on the third leg of the 1,600 relay.
"I wanted to go 13.9 and 37 flat but the hamstring was killing me," Smith said. "I expected to win. That's what I came for. But I hurt it this week in practice and it stopped me."
Because both athletes had leaped 23 feet already this season, Hawthorne's Derek Scurry and Donnie Phifer were among the favorites in the long jump. Scurry battled Nogales' Tyrone Edwards all the way before settling for second-place with a jump of 23-6 1/2. Carson's Fred Sims (22-5 1/4) finished sixth and Phifer was 12th.
Phifer was third in the triple jump and Scurry finished sixth.
Leaping 5-6, Torrance's Kim Blankenship finished fourth in the women's high jump. Kamara Mayberry of St. Bernard ran 2:12.61 for fifth-place in the 800 meters and Hawthorne's Meshawna Mays was sixth in the 100-meter hurdles at 15.0.
Seventh-place finishers included St. Bernard's Kerrie Pegues (58.03) in the 400 meters, Hawthorne's Kanika Conwright (12.32) in the 100 and Nancy Heap of Palos Verdes with a 5:04.36 in the 1,600 meters.