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Coach's Decision Puts Heavier Load on Team

May 16, 2000|DAN ARRITT

He stopped short of calling it a no-win situation, but Bill Sumner, the Corona del Mar girls' track and field coach, decided to scratch Jenny Cummins from the 400 meters at the Division III preliminaries Saturday, hoping to better her chances of advancing in her specialty, the 800 meters.

Many coaches struggle with similar decisions this time of year. Do they have their elite athleteS compete in as many events as possible to help the team win a section title, or do they allow them to concentrate on their specialties, providing the athletes with better chances of winning individual honors?

Sumner's move could cost the Sea Kings the points necessary to win the Division III team title at the section finals Saturday at Cerritos College. Corona del Mar was ranked No. 1 in the division, having passed Mater Dei and Santa Margarita in the last week of the regular season.

"Jenny is a little bit tired from all the work at the end of the season, so we backed off a notch," Sumner explained. "We'll still be trying to win, but we won't be trying to win by everybody doing as much as they can."

Cummins had the division's fourth-fastest time in the 400 heading into the prelims, but said she hasn't felt strong running the 800 so soon after the one-lap sprint.

"I would like to do both, but I guess it's more of an issue for me because I have the 400 and the 800 and they're so close together," Cummins said. "And my better one is the second one, whereas if I did the mile and the 800, there would be more time."

In the championship format, the 400 and 800 are separated only by the 100 meters race.

Cummins, a junior, is aware her times this year are crucial for attracting the interest of college recruiters.

"This is my critical year for college," she said. "This is the year they look at as far as times go."

Corona del Mar relies heavily on Liz Morse and Cummins in the middle distance events and the 1,600 relay, but without Cummins in the 400, the Sea Kings' chances are diminished. Santa Margarita and Mater Dei are well represented in the field events and hurdles.

"I don't have a lot of insurance here," Sumner said. "If I go against Mater Dei and Santa Margarita head to head, it's going to be real tough because I don't have any backups, so if I lose someone, the whole thing is gone."

The Sea Kings moved to the top of the section's Division III rankings last week when it was learned that Morse would add the 200 to her list of events.

Morse, who leads the division in the 400 and 800 and anchors the Sea Kings' leading 1,600 relay team, posted the second-fastest qualifying time and a county-leading 24.60 seconds in the 200 in the prelims.

Sumner's decision to enter Morse in the 200 was based more on her physical condition than her team's title chances. He considers the 200 nothing more than a speed workout.

"Liz is feeling strong as an ox," Sumner said.

Morse said the 1,600 relay is more rewarding than the individual events because it gives her a rare chance to chase down her competition. At the prelims, Morse began the final leg 20 meters behind Mater Dei's Lindsay Wells, but sped by in on the final curve and won by the same margin Wells started with.

"That's my favorite scenario," Morse said. "It's nice to have someone to chase after and it motivates me."


The first field event at the Southern Section finals on Saturday at Cerritos College will be the girls' pole vault at 10:30 a.m. The running events begin with the girls' 400 relay at 1 p.m. and will conclude with the boys' 1,600 relay at 7:15.

Among the notable qualifiers are the Esperanza girls' discus throwers, who grabbed five of the nine qualifying spots in Division I.

In addition to Morse, Woodbridge freshman Michelle Sanford also qualified in four individual events; the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump.

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