Most eyes will be on Marion Jones of Thousand Oaks High at the Southern Section track and field championships today at Cerritos College, but how the rest of her teammates fare in the 3-A Division will determine whether the Lancers win their first girls' section title.
Jones set a national high school and junior (age 19 and under) record of 22.67 seconds in the 200 meters in last week's preliminaries. She also ran a wind-aided 11.22 in the 100 and appears capable of running faster.
"There is more there," Thousand Oaks Coach Art Green said. "I don't know if she'll run faster this week, but she can run faster before the season is out."
Jones also will run legs for the favored 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams.
Yet the performances of senior Heather Hanger and junior Stacey Auer could determine whether the Lancers give Green his first Southern Section title after runner-up finishes in 1978, '80, '87 and '91.
Twila Sims of Lompoc is favored to win both the 100- and 300-meter low hurdles, but Hanger should contend for third place in the latter event.
Auer struggled in the first half of the season but seems to be peaking. She placed third in the 1,600 and second in the 3,200 in the Marmonte League meet and could place among the top four in each event.
The top six finishers in each event will score points on a 10-8-6-4-2-1 basis.
Lompoc, Newport Harbor, Nogales and Marmonte League champion Agoura are expected to be Thousand Oaks' chief challengers.
Agoura, the top-ranked high school cross-country team in the country by The Harrier magazine, is capable of scoring points in the middle-distance and distance races. Junior Kristie Camp (800 meters), freshman Amy Skieresz (1,600) and senior Laura Hayward (3,200) lead the Chargers.
Attempting to successfully defend titles will be Nikki Shaw of Fillmore, Nada Kawar of Crescenta Valley, Crystal Brownlee of Westlake and Jesse Stern of Harvard-Westlake.
Shaw is the defending 1-A champion in the girls' 400, 800 and 1,600; Kawar and Brownlee won the girls' shotput in the 4-A and 3-A divisions, respectively; Stern is the defending champion in the 1-A pole vault.
Field events start at 11 a.m., running events at 1 p.m.