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Valley / Ventura County Sports

Burgess Goes Short, Birmingham Prevails

Track and field: Patriot senior pulls out wins in 400 and 800 as City champion Taft toppled in dual meet.

April 10, 1999|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VAN NUYS — Tiffany Burgess of Birmingham High will be favored to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive girls' 1,600-meter title in the City Section track and field championships next month.

Yet her gutsy victories in the 400 and 800 on Friday were instrumental in the Patriots' 74-53 victory over defending City champion Taft in a West Valley League meet at Birmingham.

Burgess won the 400 in 58.8 and the 800 in 2:20.6 within a 20-minute span after helping Birmingham (4-0, 4-0 in the conference) to a 1-2-3 finish in the 1,600 earlier in the meet.

Senior Dina Melendez won the 1,600 in 5:34.6 and sophomore Melissa Astete placed second in 5:36.1 after Burgess--who ran 5:37.2--intentionally let them pass her in the final 30 meters when it was obvious the Patriots had the first three places wrapped up.

The energy she saved came in handy in the 400 when she made up a huge deficit on junior Erin Reed in the final straightaway and in the 800 when she held off freshman Eva Dencer in the homestretch.

Reed had a 25-meter lead on Burgess after blazing the first 300 of the 400, but then she began to slow dramatically.

Burgess cut the deficit to 15 meters with 50 meters left and passed a faltering Reed five meters before the finish to win by .20.

"I knew she was out in front of me after the first 200," Burgess said. "But I didn't realize just how far ahead she was until we came around the [second] turn. . . . I just told myself that I had to get going."

Burgess and Dencer led the field through the first lap of the 800 before Burgess took the lead down the backstretch and held off Dencer and senior Tiffany Smith in the homestretch.

"I expected Tiffany [Smith] to be there, but my coach had also told me that they had another girl who we didn't know much about who was also pretty good," Burgess said.

Melendez and Astete also played big roles in the victory by Birmingham, the No. 1-ranked team in the region by The Times.

Melendez won the 3,200 in 12:07.0, and Astete placed second in the 300 low hurdles in 49.7 and in the pole vault at 8-6.

Junior Deneeka Torrey and Smith were multiple-event winners for No. 3-ranked Taft.

Torrey won the 100 in a wind-aided 12.1, the 100 high hurdles in a wind-aided 14.6 and the 300 lows in 45.2.

Smith won the long jump with a wind-aided 16-3 and the triple jump with a leap of 36-9, but Taft (3-1, 3-1) couldn't overcome Birmingham's depth.

"We knew that we had the talent, the diversity and the depth to take over this meet," Burgess said.

Added Astete: "I expected us to win, but not by this much."

Taft defeated Birmingham, 75-52, in the boys' meet.

The Toreadors (4-0, 4-0) won nine of 10 running events and 12 of 15 overall in defeating the Patriots (3-1, 3-1) for the second consecutive season.

Sophomores Chris Morgan and Daniel Clements and senior Marquis Brignac were multiple winners for No. 3-ranked Taft.

Morgan won the 110 high hurdles in a wind-aided 14.3, the 300 intermediates in a career best 40.2 and the long jump with a wind-aided leap of 21-11. He ran on the victorious 400 relay team that clocked 42.9.

Clements won the 1,600 in 4:39.6 and the 3,200 in 10:34.8.

Brignac won the 100 in a wind-aided 11.0, the 200 in a wind-aided 21.8 and anchored the 400 relay team.

Senior Chris Garlington won the shotput with a career-best 48-2 for the Toreadors.

Freshman Ramal Porter won the 400 in 50.9, junior Robert Mooney took the pole vault at 12-6 and senior Ariane Chapman placed first in the triple jump at 42-10 for No. 10-ranked Birmingham.

The loss was only the second in the last 89 dual meets for the Patriots.

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