Two years ago as a sophomore, Twila Sims of Lompoc High was a bright, young talent in the 300-meter low hurdles after winning the state title and running the second fastest time in the nation.
Without much previous recognition, Sims overtook a strong field to win and appeared ready for a string of three consecutive state titles.
Those visions ended, however, after a hip injury slowed her early last season and prevented her from defending her title.
"It came down to whether I wanted to risk running again if I continued to race, so it was an easy decision," Sims said. "I just wanted to make sure I could run this year."
With plenty of motivation to recapture the title, Sims has regained her dominance in the 300 hurdles. Saturday, she won the Southern Section Division 2-A title in 43.19 seconds. Earlier in the year, she won the Arcadia Invitational at 42.86, the fastest time in the state.
Sims' time was only one-hundredth of a second off her divisional record of 43.18 and qualified for Friday night's Masters' Meet at Cerritos College.
She also was the top qualifier in the 100 low hurdles, an event she is not known to excel in.
"Normally, I don't do that great in the 100-meter low hurdles," Sims said. "But I felt real good. It all depends on my start, and I did pretty well."
Despite her success, Sims--who also anchored Lompoc's second-place finishing 1,600-meter relay team--has not received much attention.
"Until recently, I did not hear much from colleges because I guess they hadn't seen much of me," she said. "But lately I've been contacted by more schools. It doesn't bother me because I know that I'll be running somewhere."
Don't mention a sophomore jinx to Kamara Mayberry of St. Bernard High in Playa del Rey, because she knows all about it from this season.
After being rated among the top 800-meter runners in the nation for the last two years and finishing second in the State meet last season, the sophomore has struggled this spring.
With the reputation of being one of the nation's top young middle-distance runners with a personal best of 2:08.91 in the 800, Mayberry's top mark this season has been 2:12.44.
Saturday, she capped off her problems despite winning the 2-A title in the 800 for the second consecutive year. Her time did not qualify for the Masters' Meet.
Mayberry's dream of winning her first state title came to an end when her time of 2:19.28 was not among the top nine runners Saturday. The only chance she will have of winning a medal at the State meet will be as an anchor on the school's 1,600-meter relay team.
"This year, I got sidetracked with my training," said Mayberry, who ran 2:10 in the 800 as a 14-year old. "I'm 16 now and I kind of got into socializing more. I just was not where I want to be. I didn't put in the time."
A runner Mayberry watched qualify in two events was Nikki Shaw of Fillmore, who ran 2:11.59 in the 800 and 4:50.40 in the 1,600.
"It is discouraging to see her run a double like that," Mayberry said. "I was very surprised to see her run such a strong 800 after running the 1,600 earlier. But I will be OK once I strengthen up again."
Headed by Gentry Bradley of Downey Pius X and Amado Coleman of Locke, area sprinters picked up the pace last week after a slow start to the season.
Bradley was impressive while winning Southern Section 1-A titles in the 100 and 200 in 10.85 and 21.19, respectively. His 200 time is best in the nation this season.
Coleman did not run the times of Bradley, but his mark of 21.64 in the 200 meters at the City semifinals last Thursday is noteworthy considering he ran into a strong head wind.
Another group of noteworthy sprinters was the La Puente Bishop Amat 400-meter relay team, anchored by Scott Fields, that was the top qualifier last Saturday with a time of 41.80.
Greg Plutko, assistant boys' basketball coach at Glendora High since 1984, has been named the school's head coach. Plutko replaces Mike LeDuc, who resigned three weeks ago after leading the school to the Southern Section Division II-AA title. . . . The Simi Valley football team will not be allowed to conduct spring practices today or Wednesday as a penalty for holding a prohibited after-school practice last week. Monday was the first day Southern Section schools were allowed to hold after-school workouts. . . . Woodland Hills El Camino Real will miss the City Division 4-A softball championship for this first time since 1981. The Conquistadores were eliminated by San Pedro, 6-3, in the semifinals. The 4-A and 3-A softball finals will be at 5 p.m. Thursday at Cal State Northridge. . . . The Southern Section individual golf championship is being held at 1 p.m. today at the Hacienda Golf Club in La Habra Heights. . . . The Southern Section boys' 2-A, 3-A and 4-A volleyball finals will be Saturday at Cerritos College, beginning at 2:30.
Times' Prep Baseball Rankings
CITY SECTION (FINAL)
No. School Div. Record LW 1. University 4-A 22-3 1 2. Poly 4-A 18-4 2 3. Monroe 4-A 17-3-1 5 4. Westchester 4-A 19-7 4 5. Granada Hills 4-A 16-6 7 6. San Pedro 4-A 19-4 6 7. El Camino Real 4-A 15-7 8 8. Kennedy 4-A 17-9 3 9. Grant 4-A 15-7 9 10. Banning 4-A 15-8 NR