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Merino Wins His Race in a Breeze

Track and Field: Glendale College sophomore runs personal best in 3,000-meter steeplechase, defeats Godoy by almost 14 seconds.

May 09, 1999|VINCE KOWALICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WALNUT — Jose Merino ran like the wind and blew away the competition in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the Southern California community college track and field championships Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College.

The Glendale College sophomore accelerated from the middle of the pack midway through the race and opened a commanding lead in the final two laps, finishing in 9 minutes 12.9 seconds to establish a personal best.

Merino, who had the top qualifying mark at 9:29.2, was the only competitor from the region to place first in an event. He outdistanced Ricardo Godoy of San Bernardino Valley (9:26.8) and Reymond Coronado of Moorpark (9:27.4) to lead six qualifiers who advanced into the state championships at City College of San Francisco on Friday and Saturday.

Merino's previous personal best in the event was 9:19, set this season. A steady wind set flags aflutter, but Merino enjoyed the breeze--in more ways than one.

"The wind doesn't bother me at all," Merino said. "It doesn't really matter because the wind affects everybody."

Merino was fifth after two laps, just behind teammate Jorge Lopez, who finished fourth in 9:30.2. He made his move with four laps to go and was far ahead with two laps remaining.

"I don't really have a strategy," Merino said. "I don't go for [personal records], I don't go for anything. I just go for the win."

Coronado ran third much of the race and made a late challenge to Godoy. Bothered by a lingering respiratory ailment, Coronado waned down the stretch.

"I don't have the energy," Coronado said. "At the start of the season, I thought this race would be between me and [Merino]. But not today."

The top four finishers in running events through 800 meters advanced to the state meet. The top six in races of 1,500 meters or longer and in field events also advanced.

Fifth-place finishers in races through 800 meters will qualify for the state meet if their time is faster than fifth-place finishers in the Northern California championships held Saturday.

Merino finished fourth in the 5,000 meters in 15:24.92. Glendale placed 10th among teams.

Kelly Sill of Glendale finished second in the 3,000 meters in 10:52.72. Teammate Teresa Munoz placed fifth in 11:04.56.

Angela Foster and Amanda Grubb of Moorpark placed second in the shotput and hammer throw. Foster's mark was 43 feet 3 inches and Grubb's was 147 feet 3 inches.

Tranisha Holmes of Antelope Valley finished second in the 100-meter dash in 12.16.

In the men's high jump, Andre Velasquez of Antelope Valley set a school record while placing third with a mark of 6-8.

Ray Carmel of Moorpark placed third in the men's long jump with a mark of 24-8 1/2.

Ventura's Donnel Wickett, who qualified fourth in the men's 800 meters (1:53.27), finished a disappointing sixth in 1:56.42.

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