Therese Butler, girls' track coach at Long Beach Wilson High, had a difficult time watching the Southern Section Masters Meet on Friday night at Cerritos College.
What she hoped would be an evening to remember had quickly turned into a nightmare. It left her thinking about the season and what might have been.
Wilson has had one of its most successful seasons, highlighted by its performance in an intense rivalry with cross-town rival Long Beach Poly. The Bruins defeated Poly in a dual meet in April that featured many of the state's top athletes.
But things turned ugly at the Moore League championships. Butler discovered Poly used one of its athletes, Pam Simpson, in five events, a violation of National Federation rules.
Athletes can compete in a maximum of four events.
Simpson, a sophomore, ran the 100- and 200-meter dashes, competed in the long jump and triple jump and ran a leg on the Jackrabbits' 1,600 relay. As a result, she was disqualified from participating in the Southern Section preliminaries.
But the team's 1,600 relay was reinstated without Simpson after the Moore League athletic council decided the rule was not intentionally broken.
The ruling upset Butler, but she was even more frustrated when a similar problem confronted her.
Last week, section officials discovered Wilson senior Karen Vigilant competed in five events at its division preliminaries and finals. Vigilant ran in the 100 and 300 low hurdles, 400 and 1,600 relay and competed in the triple jump.
She was disqualified from the Masters Meet last Thursday, as were both relay teams. The losses put Wilson out of contention for a State team title. Poly is a favorite.
When Butler and what was left of her team arrived at the Masters Meet on Friday afternoon, Poly was already there and waiting to go into the stadium.
"When we got up to the gate, many of the Poly athletes broke out into laughter," Butler sad. "It was certainly not the ending any of us wanted."
The State meet is Friday and Saturday at Cerritos College. Friday's preliminaries begin at 3 p.m. for field events and at 5 for running events. Saturday's finals start at 3.
Missing from the field will be two of the country's top girl distance runners. Amy Skieresz of Agoura and Maribella Aparicio of Fillmore were last minute scratches at the Masters Meet.
Skieresz, a sophomore who finished third in the 1,600 at the State meet last year, learned Thursday she is suffering from mononucleosis. Aparicio, a senior who placed second in the 3,200 at the State meet last year, is out because of a stress fracture. Both were favorites in those races.
Aparicio will attend Brigham Young in the fall.
One of the best races at the State meet could be the girls' 800, in which a rivalry has been brewing between Christie Engesser of Huntington Beach Ocean View and Sherron Rhetta of Long Beach Poly.
At the Southern Section Division I championships May 22, Rhetta seemed to beat Engesser in a photo finish, 2 minutes 12.053 seconds to 2:12.057. But when section officials reviewed the photo last week, they discovered Engesser's shoulder was barely ahead of Rhetta's chest at the finish.
Engesser was declared the winner.
The two were neck-and-neck once again at the Masters Meet, with Rhetta coming from behind in the final 10 meters to win in 2:11.76. Engesser finished in 2:12.88.
Even though CIF administrators expect major changes in the organization's geographic structure in the next few years, Orange County officials are pressing their bid for their own section.
A proposed constitution for the section was recently presented to county superintendents and principals. At issue is the right for more control.
The CIF State Council voted down an Orange County Section last year, but that has not kept officials from pressing forward.
"One way or another, Orange County will have its own section sometime in the near future," said Brea-Olinda Superintendent Ed Seal, who heads the steering committee. "Right now, our schools make up 20% of the students in the Southern Section, but we have only 13% of the council vote. We don't have the right amount of say for issues that concern our students."
The CIF is under review by a strategic planning committee, which figures to make recommendations for reorganization. Seal said his group will work with the committee in whatever way is possible.
"The CIF will be governed different in the next decade, that is certain," Seal said. "We just want to make sure we're represented in those changes."
The City and Southern Section baseball semifinals are this afternoon.
The San Fernando Valley is well represented in the major divisions.
Woodland Hills El Camino Real, Sepulveda Monroe, Woodland Hills Taft and Chatsworth have advanced in the City 4-A, while Encino Crespi and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame alive in the Southern Section's Division I.
El Camino Real's Randy Wolf pitched a perfect game in the team's 5-0 quarterfinal victory over Wilmington Banning last Thursday.