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Johnson Flirts With Reaching 60-Foot Barrier


Travis Johnson's preseason goal of reaching 60 feet in the shotput is starting to look less far-fetched to Coach Joe McNab of Notre Dame.

Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound junior who was selected The Times' Valley defensive player of the year last football season, had a best of 50-4 1/2 in the shotput last year.

But he told McNab before the season he wanted to break the 60-foot barrier.

"I didn't think he would do that," McNab said. "You don't see a lot of kids go from around 51 feet one year to 60 the next."

Johnson has yet to hit 60 feet, but he's getting close.

He raised the school record to 58-2 3/4 to lead qualifying by more than six feet in the Southern Section Division III preliminaries at Long Beach City College on Friday.

That added more than a foot to Johnson's school record of 56-11 set in a meet against Harvard-Westlake on April 15.

"He finally kept his head up [when he was putting]," McNab said. "He usually looks at the ground."

McNab's big concern is Johnson will be overconfident heading into the divisional championships at Cerritos College on Saturday.

"He needs to stay focused on what he's trying to do," McNab said.


Erin Reed of Taft has made huge strides in the 400 meters in the last five weeks.

Reed, a junior transfer from Tamalpais High in Mill Valley who finished sixth in the girls' 100 and 200 in the North Coast Section championships last year, ran 59.0 in the first 400 race of her career at Birmingham on April 9.

She ran 58.2 in winning the San Fernando Valley Invitational at Birmingham two weeks later and clocked 54.9 on the anchor leg of the 1,600 relay in the Northwest Valley Conference finals at Birmingham on Friday.

Sprinters often run a few 10ths of a second faster in the 400 during the 1,600 relay than they do in the open 400 because they get a running start, but that accounts for only a small part of Reed's improvement.

"I'm running well now because I'm not afraid of [the 400]," Reed said. "I'm starting to get some confidence in that race."


Junior Kareem Lacey regarded himself as a 100 and 200 specialist during his first 2 1/2 seasons at Simi Valley, but he's made his biggest impression in the 400 in recent weeks.

Lacey, a 6-4, 195-pound center on the junior varsity basketball team, won the 200 in 22.41 and placed second in the 100 in 11.47 in the Ventura County championships on April 30 before winning the 200 in 22.44 and the 400 in 49.76 in the Marmonte League finals a week later.

He placed second in his heats of the 200 in 22.77 and 400 in 50.06 in the Division II preliminaries at Mt. San Antonio College last Saturday, but his 200 time wasn't fast enough to qualify him for the final on Saturday.

"He's never been a real good starter," boys' Coach Chuck Gustafson of Simi Valley said. "So I thought he'd be better off in the 200 and 400 than in the 100 and 200."

Lacey, who will run the anchor leg on Simi Valley's 400 relay team in the Division II final, isn't thrilled about running the 400, but acknowledges his future lies in that event.


Junior Oliver Jackson of Royal is a seasoned veteran in the long jump, but he's got a lot to learn about the technical aspects of the 300 intermediate hurdles.

Jackson, the national leader in the long jump this season at 24-4 3/4, leaped a wind-aided 23-10 1/2 to lead qualifying in the Division II preliminaries.

He advanced to the 300 hurdles final by finishing second in his heat in 38.89, despite his ragged technique.

"I stutter-stepped a few of the hurdles," Jackson said. "And that costs you time."


Alexis Weatherspoon of Grant was impressive as a freshman last year, but she's been hampered by injuries and illness this season.

Weatherspoon, second in the girls' 100 in the City Section championships last year, was slowed by a knee problem at the start of the season. That was followed by a bout with the flu and then by a possible hernia.

The latest injury prevented her from running for three weeks, but she still won the 100 in 12.3 and the 200 in 25.0 in the Valley Pac-8 Conference finals last week.

"I'm just trying to do everything I can to get to the City finals," Weatherspoon said.


Sophomore John Walker and junior David Black are hurdlers at Birmingham, but their namesakes were elite distance runners in the 1970s and early '80s.

John Walker of New Zealand won the 1,500 in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and became the first to break 3:50 in the mile in 1975 when he clocked 3:49.4.

David Black of England was the silver medalist in the 10,000 and the bronze medalist in the 5,000 in the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, New Zealand.


Fast Tracks

When Sierra Hauser-Price of Notre Dame ran 11.81 to win her heat of the girls' 100 meters in the Southern Section Division III preliminaries at Long Beach City College on Friday, she moved to eighth on the all-time region list.

The following is a list of the top performers:


Time Name School Year 11.14 *Marion Jones Thousand Oaks 1992 11.28 *Angela Burnham Rio Mesa 1988 11.61 Sherri Howard Kennedy 1980 11.70 Denean Howard Kennedy 1982 11.70 **Porchea Carroll Rio Mesa 1999 11.5 Madette Smith Quartz Hill 1997 11.80 Simone Cain Hueneme 1988 11.81 **Sierra Hauser-Price Notre Dame 1999 11.93 Nia Jackson L.A. Lutheran 1984 11.95 Eboni Grayson Taft 1998


Times in hundredths are fully automatic. To convert hand times to fully automatic times, add .24 to hand times. *junior. **sophomore. Others are seniors.

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