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McBain Forges Surely Ahead

Track: Moorpark College sophomore wins 1,500 in regional, plans to run at four-year school.


SANTA BARBARA — Melissa McBain of Moorpark College isn't sure which four-year school she'll run for in the fall, but she knows she'll run somewhere.

That might seem like stating the obvious when talking about the top-ranked junior college women's 1,500-meter runner in the state, but it wasn't that long ago that McBain figured her competitive running career would end after her two years at Moorpark.

"I just figured I would want to concentrate on academics," she said. "But now I know I want to keep running. I want to do well in both."

McBain, who grew up playing soccer before taking up distance running at Thousand Oaks High, won the 1,500 in 4:44.03 in the Southern California track and field championships at Santa Barbara City College on Saturday to help Moorpark to a third-place finish.

The Raiders totaled 78 points to finish behind Mt. San Antonio (110 1/2) and Long Beach City (83 1/2).

McBain, who finished seventh in the 800 in 2:23.29 and ran the third leg on Moorpark's 1,600 relay team that finished ninth in 4:06.72, was among three Raider women to win events.

Amy Thiel won the shotput in 47-3 1/2 and the discus in 163-5, and Angela Foster won the hammer throw with a national junior college record toss of 185-0 on May 6.

McBain took the lead with 800 meters to go, relinquished it to Jenny Wood of Mt. San Antonio with one lap to run and charged into the lead for good heading down the backstretch.

"I usually come through the first lap in 72 seconds, but I was three seconds slower than that today," McBain said.

Her time was slower than her best of 4:41.76 set this season, but she remains the favorite for the state championships at Bakersfield College on Saturday.

"I'd love to [run a career best] there," McBain said. "I'd love to break 4:40. I just want to do my best and I'm really hoping to win."

Jorge Banuelos of Glendale was the lone winner from the region in the men's meet, recording a career best of 9:31.89 in the 3,000 steeplechase.

Banuelos placed third in the 1,600 in the City Section championships for Venice last year, but he hadn't heard of the steeplechase--which requires participants to clear 28 barriers and seven water jumps during the race--until this year.

The race Saturday was the first time Banuelos didn't land in the water jump with both feet and it showed, as he cut more than 11 seconds off his best and roared away from second-place Chris Monachelli of Orange Coast in the final 300 meters.

"You always think it would be nice to win," Banuelos said. "But I was really just hoping to finish in the top six because that's what qualified for [the state championships]."

Mt. San Antonio won the men's title with 158 1/2 points, followed by Long Beach (107 1/2) and Bakersfield (64). Moorpark was 10th with 32 1/2 points.

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