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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | Track & Field

Cleveland Limps into City Finals with Bethea Hurt

May 18, 2000|JOHN ORTEGA

Cleveland High could be running for second place when the City Section boys' track and field championships are held at Birmingham next Thursday.

Coach Bill Paden of Cleveland admitted as much Friday after senior sprinter James Bethea pulled a muscle behind his right knee while running the third leg on the 400-meter relay in the West Valley League finals at Birmingham.

Taft was the overwhelming pick to win the City title at the start of the season, but Paden thought Cleveland had a shot at upending the Toreadors until Bethea suffered his injury, which prevented him from running in the 100, 200 and 1,600 relay in the league finals.

"That just crushed us," Paden said. "Someone has to step up for us and someone has to step up huge for us to win now."

Although Bethea could be healthy enough to run on the Cavaliers' 400 and 1,600 relay teams in the City finals if they qualify today in preliminaries at Birmingham as expected, his absence from the 100 and 200 means Cleveland needs to make up points in other events.

"I figured James was worth 10-14 points in the 100 and 200," Paden said. "Without those points, it's going to be real hard to beat Taft."

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Taft's relay teams haven't run as fast as many expected this season and defending City champion Fernando Lopez has struggled--by his standards--in the high jump, but Fred Williams, Chris Morgan and Daniel Clements have helped pick up the slack.

Williams, a senior who didn't run track last year, has developed into one of the state's best sprinters with bests of 10.68 in the 100 and 21.23 in the 200.

Morgan, a state finalist in the 110 high hurdles and long jump last year, has run a state-leading 13.94 in the highs this season and leaped 23-3 1/4 in the long jump. He has run 10.84 in the 100 and 39.52 in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

Clements, also a junior, has run 4:21.92 in the 1,600 and 9:52.4 in the two-mile and appears capable of running much faster.

"They look like they can score 60 or 70 points pretty easily [in the City finals]," Paden said of Taft. "And that's going to be tough to beat."

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It's not easy getting recognition for your athletic accomplishments when you're the younger sister of an All-American defensive lineman who puts the shot 59-10, but sophomore Tracy Johnson of Notre Dame is doing her best.

Johnson, whose brother Travis is defending Southern Section Division III champion in the shotput, will compete in four events in the section divisional championships at Cerritos College on Saturday.

Tracy Johnson had the No. 2 qualifying time in the 100 high hurdles with a wind-aided 14.97 in the Division III preliminaries at Long Beach City College on Saturday and qualified third in the 300 lows in 46.77. She qualified for the high jump by clearing 5-1 and ran a leg on Notre Dame's 400 relay team that qualified second in 49.05.

The Johnsons are one of three sibling duos from the region who will compete in the Southern Section championships.

Junior Wes Felix of Valencia will run in the Division II 200 and 1,600 relay while his sister, freshman Allyson Felix of L.A. Baptist, will run in the Division IV 100, 200 and 400 and 1,600 relays.

In the distance events, junior Tom Kubler of Viewpoint will run in the Division IV 1,600 and 3,200 while twin Robert of Crespi will run in the Division III 3,200.

Not to be overlooked are sisters Gigi and Vincetta Mendola of Birmingham, who will run in the City preliminaries today.

Gigi, a senior, will run in the 200, 400 and both relays.

Vincetta, a freshman, will in the 100, 200 and both relays.

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Anita Siraki of Hoover has been replaced by Alejandra Barrientos of Felton San Lorenzo Valley as the national leader in the girls' 3,200.

Siraki, a junior, ran a nation-leading 10:18.61 to win the Flo Jo Memorial Arcadia Invitational on April 8, but the UCLA-bound Barrientos clocked 10:11.19 in the Central Coast Section South Area preliminaries on Saturday.

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Thousand Oaks is trying to find out who set fire to its pole vault pit last Thursday.

Coach Robert Radnoti left school at 8:30 p.m. but was notified at 9:15 that the large foam pit had literally been burned to the ground.

Thousand Oaks purchased a used pit from Camarillo--which dropped its vaulting program two years ago--on Saturday. A new pit would cost $10,000-$15,000.

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It appears junior Chadd Smith of Camarillo will compete in the high jump through the end of the season before undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a tear in the patellar tendon in his left knee.

Smith cleared a career best 6-10 to win the Mt. San Antonio College Relays on April 15 but said he might cut his season short to have surgery and start rehabilitation.

"My attitude is why stop now?" Smith said. "If I've jumped with [the injury] this long, I might as well finish the season."

Smith will compete in the Southern Section Division I final on Saturday.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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