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Mission Viejo, Santa Margarita Set for Showdown

March 14, 2000|DAN ARRITT

Santa Margarita Coach Dave Zeitler didn't need a calendar to remember what was planned for March 16.

That's when Long Beach Poly, a seven-time state champion in boys' track and field and a five-time girls' champion, was to arrive on campus for a head-to-head meet against Santa Margarita, one of the strongest programs in Orange County.

Zeitler, who coaches the boys' team, couldn't wait to show off the fully automated timing system the booster club purchased, the speedy, all-weather track or the hand-built scoreboard installed last year.

Unfortunately, Long Beach Poly's calendar had Santa Margarita penciled in a week earlier.

By the time Zeitler was informed of the conflict, it was too late to reschedule with the Jackrabbits, leaving him scrambling for an opponent. He made a few calls, looked at some schedules and even listed "opponent wanted" on a message board at a track and field web site.

No luck.

Finally, after he had all but given up, Zeitler found out during the Irvine Invitational on Saturday that Mission Viejo also had an open week. He inquired of Fred Almond, coach of the Mission Viejo girls' team, got the OK and then confirmed it with a handshake from boys' coach Mike Hoffman, setting the stage for a first-ever dual meet between the two perennial powers.

The girls' competition appears the most compelling, with each team having won an Orange County title in the past two years.

Mission Viejo junior Dana Bethel, second in state in the 100 hurdles and long jump last season, is capable of winning four events for the Diablos, while Kendal Billingsley and Sarah Rettman should challenge in the distance events.

Santa Margarita will counter with senior Meghan Atkinson in the sprints, junior Lori Mann in the distance events and seniors Christy Von Der Ahe and Whitney Larson in the field events.


The prospects of the Santa Margarita girls' team were somewhat dimmed recently when sophomore Meghan Mainwaring elected to have season-ending knee surgery.

Mainwaring scored numerous points in relays and distance events last season, helping the Eagles win Orange County and Southern Section Division II titles. Mainwaring, who injured her knee during a physical education class, is expected back for the fall cross-country season, Santa Margarita Coach Gil Garcia said.

Villa Park senior Augie Escobar said he's bothered by a sore Achilles tendon and won't race this month. Escobar, who finished third in state in the 3,200 meters and had the second-fastest high school outdoor time last season, said the injury resulted from new shoes he had been experimenting with.

Santa Margarita also lost its top sprinter, Scott Langford, for two to four weeks with a hamstring injury, Zeitler said.


Caroline Rebello will be trying to improve on last week's county-leading mark of 11-6 in the pole vault when Marina visits Brea Olinda.

The Katella Relays will be held at Santa Ana College on Saturday.

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