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NOTEBOOK

Talented Astete Shines in 3-D for Birmingham Girls' Team

April 15, 1999|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Distance runners generally don't make good pole vaulters and pole vaulters usually don't excel in distance races.

The explosiveness and upper-body strength needed to compete in the pole vault generally isn't found in runners and the endurance needed to compete in a distance race is usually lacking in athletes with an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Yet sophomore Melissa Astete of Birmingham High has managed to excel in both--and then some.

Astete won the girls' pole vault at 8-6 and finished fifth in the 3,200 meters in 11:52.61 in the City Section championships last year.

On Friday, she finished second in the 1,600 in a hand-timed 5:36.1, second in the pole vault at 8-6 and second in the 300 low hurdles in 49.7 in a West Valley League meet against Taft.

She cleared a school-record 10-6 to win the open section of the pole vault in the Arcadia Invitational at Arcadia High on Saturday.

Not bad for someone who had not vaulted until last year and never hurdled until last week.

"[The pole vault] just really appealed to me," said Astete, the No. 5 runner on Birmingham's 1997 and '98 City champion cross-country teams. "So I gave it a try last year and liked it."

Astete made a promising debut in the 300 hurdles against Taft, but admits she knows little about the technical aspects of the event.

"I never ran a hurdle workout until [last] week," she said. "I need a lot more work. . . . The pole vault is still my primary concern."

*

Anita Siraki of Hoover impressed plenty of spectators when she ran 4:52.3 on her 1,600-meter anchor leg in the open distance medley relay at Arcadia to bring the Tornadoes from 13th to first place, but it was her runner-up effort in the invitational 3,200 that was her best performance.

Siraki's time of 10:30.81 bettered her previous best by nearly 25 seconds, moved her to 11th on the all-time region list and made her the second fastest sophomore ever in the area.

Only Vickie Cook of Alemany, who clocked 10:14.79 in 1980, ran faster than Siraki as a sophomore.

Cook won an unprecedented three consecutive state titles in the 3,200 from 1980-82.

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Junior Deneeka Torrey of Taft set a school record of 14.58 in the 100 high hurdles when she placed fourth in the Arcadia Invitational, but she doesn't plan on the record breaking ending there.

Torrey said last month that her goal is to set school records in the 100 highs, 300 lows, 100 and 200 this season.

Eboni Grayson, City 100 and 200 champion in 1997 and '98, holds the Taft records of 11.95 and 24.29 in the sprint events.

Frances Santin, City 300 hurdles champion in 1996 and '98, holds the school record of 42.63 in that event. Santin previously held the record in the 100 highs at 14.73.

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Mention the name Wayne Collette at Harvard-Westlake and many kids figure you're talking about a fellow student and member of the Wolverine track team.

Bring up the same name with track historians and they'll talk about the 400-meter sprinter who won a silver medal in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, but was banned from further competition by the International Olympic Committee because the IOC felt that he and gold medalist Vince Matthews made a political statement by talking and fidgeting during the playing of the national anthem instead of standing at attention.

To Coach Jonas Koolsbergen of Harvard-Westlake, Wayne Collette Jr. is his leading triple jumper with a modest best of 41-1 1/2 and Wayne Collette Sr. is a big supporter of the Wolverine program.

"He and his wife are probably our most supportive parents," Koolsbergen said. "They came to the Mission League cross-country finals last year even though their son wasn't running."

Collette undoubtedly has a wealth of knowledge about sprinting, but Koolsbergen says he's never second-guessed his coaching techniques.

"You worry about that happening with parents who are famous athletes," Koolsbergen said. "But he's been very supportive."

*

Notre Dame will host Harvard-Westlake in a meet at 3 p.m. today that could decide the Mission League girls' championship for the second year in a row.

Notre Dame, led by sophomore sprinter Sierra Hauser-Price, is favored, but the Knights were favored last year and lost.

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Ian Winchester, a discus thrower on the 1996 British Olympic team, and Carl Brown, No. 5-ranked thrower in the nation last year, head the men's entries in the Antelope Valley College Throws Festival today.

Although the meet is called a throws festival, it will consist of only a men's and women's discus competition this year.

Toyinda Smith of Purdue, 1997 Big Ten Conference champion, heads the women's entries.

The women's discus will start at 1:30 p.m., the men's event at 3:30.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Top 10

Rankings of track and field teams from the region

BOYS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 1 Rio Mesa (Pacific View) 2 2 Ventura (Channel) 3 3 Taft (West Valley) 4 4 Newbury Park (Marmonte) 5 5 Notre Dame (Mission) 6 6 Camarillo (Pacific View) 7 7 Palmdale (Golden) 8 8 Harvard-Westlake (Mission) 9 10 Birmingham (West Valley) 10 9 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte)

*--*

****

GIRLS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 1 Birmingham (West Valley) 2 2 Camarillo (Pacific View) 3 3 Taft (West Valley) 4 4 Rio Mesa (Pacific View) 5 6 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 6 5 Cleveland (North Valley) 7 7 Crescenta Valley (Pacific) 8 8 Notre Dame (Mission) 9 9 Simi Valley (Marmonte) 10 10 Canyon (Foothill)

*--*

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