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MISSION VIEJO — Most of the county's top runners, throwers and jumpers will compete at the Orange County Track and Field Championships today at Trabuco Hills High School.

According to co-meet director Al Britt, 63 schools and more than 2,000 athletes will participate in the second co-ed championships.

The most competitive race might be for the boys' team championship. It is expected to come down to Esperanza and Woodbridge.

Britt, who coaches Esperanza, favors Woodbridge.

"I think the favorite in the meet is Woodbridge," Britt said. "It really comes down to how much we get hurt on points in certain events.

"Our points will be in the distance races and the weight events, but these are not scoring events for them (Woodbridge). Someone else would have to displace us."

Britt says he has a group of young sprinters made up of sophomores. Woodbridge has junior Gary Young, who could have qualified for the April 10 Arcadia Invitational, which featured the top sprinters in the state, but chose not to compete on the day before Easter. Young will have something to prove at Orange County. He is favored to win the 100 and 200 meters.

Esperanza's Cody Heron, Kareem Clark, Tom Tape and Anton Hector are expected to run the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.

The matchup between Esperanza and Foothill could make the boys' 1,600 relay one of the most exciting races of the meet. Esperanza has run the second-fastest time in the county this season at 3 minutes 25.04 seconds. Foothill has run 3:23.1, but also posted a faster time at an indoor meet.

Foothill's quartet of Tad Heath, Don Oliver, Mike Lynch and Ethan Taub might be a little rusty, having not raced together since the March 20 Katella Relays because of injuries. The relay is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

The boys' 3,000 meters is also another premier event. Orange's Jaime Martinez, who has run 9:08.3 for 3,200 meters, Esperanza's Shawn Frack, Huntington Beach's Ben Flamm and Katella's Mike Love are expected to be the top runners in that race.

The race for the girls' team championship is wide open. Among the teams capable of winning are Edison, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Newport Harbor, Esperanza and Foothill.

Two top races will be the seeded 1,500 and 3,000. The 3,000 is scheduled for 12:52 p.m. and features a stellar field. Among the competitors are Tustin's Liza Alexander, who leads the county at 3,200, Laguna Hills' Mayra Medina, Corona del Mar's Tracy Clark and Kelly Campbell, Irvine's Kelly Roda, Edison's Elyse Homberger and Esperanza's Carrie Caulkins.

The 1,500, scheduled for 5:44 p.m., includes Ocean View's Christie Engesser, who is favored in this race and also will run the 800, Canyon's Kim Nelson, Laguna Hills' Heidi Sickler, Edison's Janna Evans, Capistrano Valley's Meghan Mayes, Campbell, Caulkins and Alexander.

Other premier events include the girls' high jump (10 a.m.), shotput (11 a.m) and discus throw (after shotput). The meet begins at 9 a.m. with the boys' 300 intermediate hurdles.

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