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KATELLA RELAYS : Santa Ana Valley Quickly Makes Its Case


SANTA ANA — George Payan, the Santa Ana Valley boys' track and field coach, boasted a little bit Saturday at the Jack Bighead Katella Relays.

And Payan had reason to, despite the rain that briefly drenched the athletes gathered at Rancho Santiago College. And despite losing the Division I team championship. Saddleback won with 68 points to Mission Viejo's 67. Santa Ana Valley was seventh with 30.

Payan especially had reason to brag Terry Mayers, Rylan Branch, Kimiko Bandy and Tony Davis broke the meet's 800-meter relay meet record, running 1 minute 29.9 seconds. The old record was 1:30.1 set by Saddleback last season. Mission Viejo was second in in 1:32.2.

The same four also won the 400 relay, and Branch, James Barkley, Bandy and Davis combined to win the 1,600.

"The rain was pouring during the 400-meter relay, but the conditions got better after the 800 relays started," Payan said. "And after seeing Foothill run well in a previous race, our guys got excited.

"I think they know they were here to prove they are the sprint power of Orange County."

In the 1,600, a Foothill team of Nate Kuchera, Tad Heath, Matt McCormick and Aaron Taub posted a time of 3:25.2 in Division II but had to wait two races to see if its time would stand. The Knights finished a mere three-tenths of a second off the meet record set by Esperanza in 1985. Finally, it was Santa Ana Valley's turn, and it didn't disappoint, running 3:23.2. The unofficial 400 splits: Branch 51.2, Barkley 52.8, Bandy 49.9 and Davis 49.4.

Foothill Coach Jerry Whitaker was pleased with his relay's performance. The Knights turned in their best time this season although top runner Ethan Taub did not run.

"We are not loading up much on invitationals this season," Whitaker said. "But it's going to get better because Ethan can run in the 49s. The time is dropping down all the time."

Esperanza's Travis Kirschke, an All-County defensive lineman in football who threw the discus a personal record 163 feet 5 inches (second-best in the state this season) at the Irvine Invitational March 14, had the longest throw of the day at 145-7, helping his team to second in Division I. Saddleback won, with Modesto Tavares throwing 142- 3/4.

In the girls' competition, University broke the meet record in the distance medley. Justelle Samuelsen, Shelby Samuelsen, Holiday Molway and Tanja Brix ran 12:45.0, breaking Villa Park's 12:56.2 set in 1989.

Mission Viejo captured three relay races in girls' Division I, and the Diablos led the team scoring with 52 points with five events left (the field events will be concluded Monday at El Modena High).

Sonora, led by hurdler Lisa Knott, had the fastest time of the day in the 800 relay in 1:47.4.

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