Prep sprint sensation Marion Jones of Thousand Oaks High got the challenge she was looking for at Saturday's Mazda Mt. San Antonio College Relays, but not in the way she expected.
For the first time in three years, Jones--the two-time defending State champion at 100 and 200 meters--decided not to run the girls' 400 meters and chose to compete in only the 100 meters and anchor the Lancers' 400- and 800-meter relay teams.
Jones did not have a problem winning the 100 meters for the second consecutive year. She won in a national-best time of 11.44. However, the relays turned out to be too much of a challenge.
Thousand Oaks was overmatched in both the 400- and 800-meter relays in finishing fourth and second, respectively, despite great anchor legs by Jones.
"I was inspired because all of the big names were here, like Carl (Lewis) and Evelyn (Ashford)," said Jones, a 16-year-old junior who finished fourth in the TAC 200 meters last year. "With all the atmosphere brought by them, I was just hoping that they'd see me, too."
Jones decided not run the 400 meters, which she had won the last two years, because she needed to concentrate more on her shorter races.
"I started the season with a lot of strength work, but now it is time for me to get my speed work done," she said.
Overall, it was a good afternoon for Southland girl runners. Nikki Shaw of Fillmore rallied in the final 400 meters to win the 1,500 meters in 4:31.32. It was her second victory in the event. She won in 1990 with a time of 4:36.1
Inglewood Morningside and Long Beach Poly continued their rivalry in the relays as Morningside defeated the Jackrabbits in the 400-meter relay, thanks to a strong anchor leg by senior Santeshia Arnold.
However, Morningside--which had a national-best time of 45.83 in the 400-meter relay--could not catch Long Beach Poly in the 800-meter relay.
Morningside, which has the best time in the state in the event, did come back to win the 1,600-meter relay.
In the boys' competition, Angel Martinez of San Gabriel continued his domination over middle distance runners with an impressive victory in the 1,500 meters in 3:50.47.
Martinez, who won the event in 3:56.43 last year, had to outsprint Pablo Olmedo of Mexico in the final 100 meters to win.
Gentry Bradley of Downey Pius X won the 100 meters in 10.74, ahead of freshman Marques Holiwell of West Bakersfield in 10.75.
Morningside won the boys' 400-meter relay in 42.24, and Hawthorne won the 800-meter relay.