Many of the Southland's top girls' prep track and field teams knew that Long Beach Poly would be an up-and-coming force this season, but no one expected the Jackrabbits to be this good.
Led by two freshmen sprinters, Poly served notice to perennial Southern Section powers Inglewood Morningside, Hawthorne, Pasadena Muir and the Marion Jones-led Thousand Oaks with an impressive performance in last week's Moore League finals at Cal State Long Beach.
Poly so dominated the meet with its depth in the sprint and jumping events, that the results read like a Jackrabbit intrasquad meet.
The team started by finishing 1-2-3-4 in the 100-meter dash, led by freshmen Andrea Anderson and Aminah Haddad. Poly eventually had the top qualifiers in eight events, including a 1-2-3 finish in the long jump and 200 meters; a 1-2-4 finish in the 400 and 1-3 finishes in the 200, 100-meter low hurdles and triple jump.
What makes Poly's accomplishments so impressive is that nearly all of its qualifiers recorded marks that reach The Times' standards for the events.
Leading the way was Anderson, the top qualifier in the 100 and 200, with times of 11.77 and 24.13 seconds, respectively. She was followed by Haddad, who ran 11.81 and 24.17.
Joining the freshmen standouts are Channele Anderson, a junior sprinter-jumper and cousin of Andrea Anderson; Latasha Prothro, a junior 400 specialist, and hurdler Zandrea Shorts, the only senior on the team.
To have a team so young and talented is a challenge for Poly Coach Don Norford and his eight-member staff. But it is a job that is also rewarding for the Poly graduate.
"We started early in trying to ignite an interest in track at the school by forming a parent-support group to get people involved," said Norford, in his third season as coach of the boys' and girls' teams. "The key for us was to show everyone around the community how hard we're working to get the program going."
Norford points to the development of Andrea Anderson as an example of the type of athletes the Jackrabbits have.
Haddad, who recently turned 13, also has track experts talking after winning the 200 at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays last month in a wind-aided time of 24.04.
In the 400, Prothro is the Jackrabbits' best runner. Norford expects her to run it less than 54 seconds in next month's State meet.
With so much depth in the sprints, Poly has one of the nation's best 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams. In one of the best relay races of the season, the Jackrabbits gave Morningside all it could handle at Mt. SAC in the 400 relay in finishing second in 45.88, the 12th-fastest prep mark ever.
A rematch seems unlikely because Poly dropped the baton in the Moore League finals and failed to qualify. Unless one of the teams that finished in the top three spots decides to withdraw, Poly, which has the second fastest time in the nation, will be left out.
"I hope something can be done because I really think that something special would happen if we got to run," Norford said. "Even though our whole team will be back and would challenge the national record next year, I believe that we could go after the record now because of the competition."
A football title game between the major division champions of the Southern Section and the Los Angeles City Section is closer to becoming reality.
The CIF State Federated Council voted in favor of the game last Friday, which tentatively is scheduled for Dec. 18. Details of the matchup, including site, gate split and rules, still need to be worked out. It is likely that the two sections and the state CIF will split the profits equally three ways.
Negotiations continue with KCOP-Channel 13 to televise the game live.
The State Federated Council also voted to hire a facilitator at $28,000 for one year to help study a reorganization of the CIF.
CIF leaders expect major changes in the organization soon, including a reconstruction of the current section setup. The CIF has 10 sections that vary greatly in size. The Southern Section, for example, is four times larger than the next biggest section.
Diamond Bar continues to dominate the Southland in baseball, having picked up victories against West Covina and Charter Oak last week and running its record to 22-1. . . . El Segundo baseball Coach John Stevenson recently got the 700th victory of his 33-year career at the school. Stevenson, the winningest coach in the state, is the first to have reached that plateau.
Glendale softball player Jenny Dalton broke the Southern Section season home run record last Thursday when she hit three homers, giving her 26 for the season. . . . The Southern Section boys' volleyball playoffs begin Wednesday. Newport Harbor, Simi Valley Royal and Whittier Christian are the top-seeded teams in divisions 4-A, 3-A and 2-A, respectively.