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Stringer Leads Way as Morningside Guns for Title : State preview: The Monarchs will need to be at their best to challenge Long Beach Poly for championship.


If the Morningside girls' track and field team hopes to challenge defending champion Long Beach Poly for the State championship, it will need to have a strong showing in today's preliminaries at Cerritos College.

"Long Beach Poly looks real strong, so it's going to be very hard," Monarch Coach Ron Tatum said. "We're going to need points in some unexpected places for us to score enough."

The Monarchs have nine qualifiers, including two relay teams, and Long Beach Poly has eight. But Tatum said the Jackrabbits have the ability to finish among the leaders in every event in which they are entered.

Morningside, which won the 1991 title and was second in 1992, will probably need improvement from junior Tai-Ne Gibson in the 100 and 200-meter dashes and freshman Nicole Thomas in the 100 hurdles to challenge for the title.

Gibson finished fifth in the 100 and 200 at the Southern Section Masters meet last week and Thomas was fourth in the 100 hurdles. Thomas is one of the favorites in her specialty, the 300 hurdles, having qualified in 43.40 seconds.

Morningside's best event is the 400, where it has the top qualifiers in LaShawn Stringer and Jeronda White and another strong contender in Felesha Williams. The Monarchs also are among state leaders in the 400 and 1,600 relays.

The Morningside boys' team will count on senior Edward Turner to finish among the leaders. Turner will compete in the 100, 200 and long jump and also anchors Morningside's 1,600 relay team.

Turner was in top form at the Masters meet, winning the 200 and the long jump and finishing second in the 100.

"We're going to ask Edward to do an extremely difficult task," Tatum said. "We've put together the best people we could in this situation, but he's definitely our shining star."

Competing in only four events, the Morningside boys do not appear to have the depth to challenge Salinas North for the title. But the Monarchs, who finished second last year, could be among the top teams.

In addition to Morningside, there are 11 qualifiers from the South Bay in the girls' division. Leading the way are Kamara Mayberry of St. Bernard in the 800 and Kim Blankinship of Torrance in the high jump.

After Morningside, Gardena has the most area qualifiers with three. Westchester and San Pedro have two each.

Gardena, which finished second in the City finals last week, qualified Latarya McCarty in the 200, Lavon Wade in the triple jump and its 400 relay team. Westchester qualifiers are freshman Rori Kelly in the 100 hurdles and the 1,600 relay team, and San Pedro will have Adanna Davis in the shotput and Nicole Kleiner in the 800.

Other entries include Nikki Lawson of Mira Costa in the triple jump and Dana Warren of Narbonne in the high jump.

Contenders for individual titles among the boys will be Dan Minami of Peninsula in the 3,200 and Leandrew Childs of Inglewood in the long jump.

Both are the state's top qualifiers in their events. Minami has a best of 9 minutes 4.13 seconds in the 3,200, and Childs has a wind-aided mark of 24-8 3/4 in the long jump.

Other area competitors include Gardena's Morris Giddens in the 1,600; Rick McCray of Carson in the 800; Roberto Gutierrez of Banning in the 300 hurdles and Leuzinger's 400 relay team.

Today's preliminaries start at 3 p.m. The finals are set for Saturday.

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