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Taft Girls Will Stay on the Run : Cross-country: Toreadors finish second in City Section finals to gain first berth in State meet.


WOODLAND HILLS — The Taft High girls' cross-country team placed second to Palisades in the City Section finals Saturday but that was about the only disappointment for the Toreadors.

Three of Taft's top five runners ran lifetime bests on the three-mile Pierce College course to notch the school's highest finish and its first berth in the State meet.

The Toreadors' previous best finish was third in 1989.

"Now is the time to run your best race in the biggest meet of the season," Taft Coach Mel Hein said. "I'm tickled to death and the girls are tickled to death.

"I couldn't have asked for anything more today."

The top two teams and first five individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the State championships Nov. 26 at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Taft, a team of underclassmen, came within a point of defeating Palisades in the Nov. 9 semifinals, but the Dolphins placed three runners among the top seven Saturday to win their first title in 13 years with 54 points.

Taft had 64 points, third-place Huntington Park 109 and five-time defending champion Belmont 127.

"We knew all season (Palisades) was the team to beat and we were proud to be only one point away from the last week," Hein said. "We talked about the difference between being the bride and bridesmaid, but we'll take it."

Taft junior Sedaf Sehati, who lowered her best by 28 seconds, was ninth in 19 minutes 43 seconds. Junior Michele Klein was 11th in 19:50.

Junior Daisy Roque (20:23), sophomore Jill Fairchild (20:24) and freshman Francis Santin (20:41) rounded out the Toreadors' scoring in 22nd, 23rd and 24th place. Roque lowered her best by 17 seconds and Fairchild took 27 seconds off her best to set a school record for 10th-graders.

"We're happy to have run the best this season," Sehati said. "Our goal was to qualify and we thought if we stayed focused and concentrated on it we could make it as a team."

Brooke Page of Granada Hills bolted to a quick lead in the first mile before she was overtaken by Belmont's Delfina Martinez shortly after the halfway mark.

Martinez cruised to a 14-second victory over Elizabeth Bernier of Hamilton in 18:58 while Page, who came into the meet with the fastest qualifying time, faded to sixth in 19:29. Page and 10th-place finisher Sarah Wilkes of El Camino Real (19:49) qualified for the State meet.

"I didn't have much pressure last week," Page said. "This race was a learning experience for me. Next time, I'll do better. You never know what's going to happen during a race. You have to expect the unexpected.

"You just have to prepare as much as you can."

In the boys' division, Garfield, paced by runner-up Richard Martinez (15:25) and seventh- and ninth-place finishes by David Jimenez (15:54) and Eddie Sanchez (16:00), edged Palisades, 43-48, to win its first City title since 1963.

Two-time champion Belmont, winner of 10 of the last 12 City championships, was third with 65 points. Birmingham (104) was fourth, Monroe (131) fifth.

Peter Gilmore of Palisades won the three-mile race in 14 minutes 56 seconds--the fastest winning time since 1983.

Juan Cortes of Reseda finished fourth in 15:35 to qualify for the State meet. Birmingham's Jose Torres (15:59) and Alejandro Tinajero (16:04) qualified by finishing eighth and 11th. Poly's Uzzrel Gray (16:03) qualified by finishing 10th.

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