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Michels Vaults His Way to First at L.A. Meet


LOS ANGELES — It's hard to believe Steve Michels had mixed emotions after his victory in the boys' pole vault at the 37th Los Angeles Indoor Invitational track and field meet Saturday at the Sports Arena.

After all, the Brethren Christian senior jumped 16 feet three-quarters of an inch for the victory, just more than an inch off his personal best of 16 feet 2 inches. He narrowly missed three attempts at 16 feet 5 1/4 inches. Not to mention, he won the competition by more than 1 1/2 feet.

"It was encouraging and disappointing at the same time," said Michels, who finished seventh in the state meet a year ago.

"It was good to get a win in and all the jumps [at 16-5 1/4] were pretty good attempts, so I'm sort of happy."

Orange County athletes also fared well in the girls' triple jump, where Esperanza senior Kelly O'Connor's winning effort led a county sweep of the top three spots.

O'Connor, the defending state champion, won the event with a leap of 37-9 1/2, edging Erica Dickson of Mission Viejo (37-1) and Trabuco Hills sophomore Darnesha Griffith (36-9).

Garden Grove sprinter Kevin Griswold, the county runner-up in the 100 and 200 meters in 1995, raced to a heat victory in the 500-yard run. The state-meet qualifier in the 200 last spring ran 1:00.0 to cross the line first in the third heat of the event.

"[Argonaut Coach Mark Mariola] wasn't so sure about my start," Griswold said. "They invited me to run the 55 here, but he thought that race would be over before it started, so the 500 was the next shortest race."

University freshman Allyson Marquand enjoyed a taste of victory in her first-ever track and field meet, winning the first heat of the rated mile in 5:23.3.

"That was fun," Marquand said with a smile.

"This was my first mile and my first track meet, so I didn't know what my time would be. I just ran for some experience today."

Huntington Beach junior Summer Shaw also was a heat winner, besting the field in the 880-yard run in 2:24.5.

Omar Cordero of Saddleback pulled away in the final 440-yard of the second heat of the mile run, winning the race by more than six seconds in 4:26.2. Michael Murray of Santa Margarita finished third in the heat in 4:33.6, six-tenths ahead of El Toro senior Ed Pollick.

Mission Viejo sophomore Ashley Bethel finished second in the long jump with a leap of 18-6 1/2 on her last effort. Bethel also ran 7.69 for second in the first heat of the 50-meter hurdles.

Track Notes

Marina sophomore Heather Cuthbertson ran 5:13.45 for fourth place in the seeded mile, a race featuring the state's top distance runners. Huntington Beach junior Scott Moser finished as the runner-up in the discus event (166-8), held outdoors on the nearby USC campus. Mission Viejo senior Abe Mendoza threw a personal best of 162-4 for fifth place. Buena Park sophomore Heather Garritson ran 11:16.9 for fourth place in the two mile, one place ahead of Fountain Valley senior Angie Winkler (11:25.9). Woodbridge junior Jon Jeffrey finished second in the third heat of the boys' 880-yard run, racing to the fastest time by a county athlete of 2:02.6. Santa Margarita senior Matt Blasdel posted a 2:03.1 clocking for third place in the first heat. Pat Swanson of Esperanza ran 6.98 to win the third heat of the boys' 50-meter hurdles.

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