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GIRLS' TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Santin Helped Taft Clear Biggest Hurdle

June 26, 1998|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WOODLAND HILLS — Forget the school records, moving to third on the all-time region list in the 300-meter low hurdles and leading the state in that event for the first two months of the season.

When senior Frances Santin of Taft High looks back on the 1998 track and field season, the accomplishment she'll cherish most is helping the Toreadors win their first City Section girls' championship.

"I remember talking to the coaches before the season began and saying, 'We've got to win City,' " said the outgoing and fast-talking Santin. "To me, that was better than if I had run [under 41 seconds] in the 300 hurdles."

Taft won its first City title with a record 112 points after finishing third in 1995 and '96 and second in '97.

Santin, who accounted for 22 1/2 points in the meet, scored fewer points than teammates Eboni Grayson (32 1/2) and Jayda Bailey (23). But a superb overall season helped her edge Grayson, a senior, and Canyon junior Lauren Fleshman as The Times' regional girls' track and field athlete of the year.

The UCLA-bound Grayson won the 100, 200 and triple jump and anchored the victorious 400 relay team in the City meet.

Fleshman won the 1,600 and 3,200 in the Southern Section Division I championships and placed fourth in the 3,200 in the state championships.

But neither Grayson nor Fleshman produced as many high-quality performances over the season as the Cal State Northridge-bound Santin.

Santin, who placed fifth in the 300 low hurdles and ninth in the 100 highs in the state championships at Cerritos College on June 6, ran 43.92 or faster eight times in the lows.

She ran a school-record 42.63 in the 300 lows in a qualifying heat of the state championships after winning the event for the second time in three years in the City championships. She placed second in the 100 highs, fifth in the high jump and ran the first leg on the 400 relay team in the City meet.

In addition to the 300 hurdles, Santin led the region in the 100 highs with a school-record 14.73, cleared 5 feet 1 inch in the high jump and ran 2:19.3 in the 800 in an all-comers meet.

Her accomplishments helped ease the frustration of a junior year in which Santin failed to qualify for the 300 hurdles state final after finishing sixth as a sophomore.

"I felt like I kind of erased what happened last year," Santin said. "The way I ran this year makes me forget about last year."

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