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TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS

Ventura's Wickett Saves Best for Last

May 14, 1999|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

To most decathletes, including world record-holder, defending Olympic champion and three-time world champion Dan O'Brien, running the 1,500 meters is akin to getting a tooth pulled without anesthesia.

But not to Donell Wickett of Ventura College.

Wickett, who today is competing in the first day of the decathlon in the Junior College state championships at City College of San Francisco, enjoys running the 1,500, the 10th event of the two-day test.

"That's one of my favorite events," Wickett said. "The 1,500 is one of the events I'm most looking forward to."

That's partly because Wickett, an All-Western State Conference Northern Division wide receiver in 1996, is a solid 800 runner who finished sixth in the Southern California championships at Mt. San Antonio on Saturday.

And also because the 1,500 is among his strongest events.

Many decathletes score their fewest points in the 1,500, but Wickett earned 730 points--his third-highest score--for running 4:32.23 in the Southern California decathlonchampionships in March.

That performance helped him finish second with a career best of 6,144 points. He plans to top 6,500 points this weekend in the third decathlon of his career.

"I'm shooting [for a top-three finish]," Wickett said. "But as long as I improve my previous best or break 6,500, I can't complain about my finish."

Jose Merino of Glendale, Andre Velasquez and Tranisha Holmes of Antelope Valley and Angela Foster of Moorpark each are competing in two events in the meet.

Merino, the Southern California champion in the steeplechase, is favored to win on Saturday and could contend for a top-five finish in the 5,000.

Velasquez is competing in the men's long jump today and in the high jump on Saturday.

Holmes is taking part in the women's 100 and 200 on Saturday, as will Foster in the women's shotput and discus.

Moorpark, with Foster, Amanda Grubb in the hammer throw, Ika Eliashvili in the triple jump and Melissa Bonds in the 10,000, could finish among the top 10 teams in the women's meet.

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