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Taft Double-Teams City Finals

Track and field: Toreadors romp to boys' title, girls overcome Birmingham for third consecutive crown.


VAN NUYS — Taft High won the boys' and girls' titles in the City Section track and field championships at Birmingham High on Thursday night, but the manner in which the Toreador squads posted their victories were vastly different.

While the boys' team led from the second event on to win its first title since 1987, the girls' team had to come from behind to beat Birmingham for the second year in a row and win its third consecutive title.

It was the first time a school from the San Fernando Valley swept the boys' and girls' titles.

Dorsey was a double winner in 1996 and 1997.

"[This] one is the most satisfying because I won't be back next year," said senior Deneeka Torrey of Taft, who won her second consecutive titles in the 100 high hurdles and 300 lows. "I'll be back as a spectator."

Taft, led by Torrey, senior Erin Reed and junior Schquay Brignac, totaled 80 points to defeat Birmingham by six points in the girls' meet.

Cleveland placed third with 51 points to give the West Valley League a sweep of the first three places.

Taft defeated Cleveland, 99-68, for the boys' title, followed by four-time defending champion Dorsey with 46, Gardena with 36 and Birmingham with 35.

Taft led Birmingham, 50-29, after the first eight events of the girls' meet, but Shakela Wilson and Nicole Apojtolai placed fourth and fifth in the 800 to cut Birmingham's deficit to 50-35.

Melissa Astete placed first, Michelle Rivera second and Nickie Kohlieber tied for third in the pole vault to give Birmingham a 58-50 lead with five events remaining.

Astete's meet record of 12-0 1/4 gave her a third consecutive title and seemed to give the Patriots momentum, but Torrey won the 300 hurdles in 43.2, Reed placed second in the 200 in 24.54 and Brignac placed second in the triple jump with a career-best 37-5 1/4 to give Taft a 76-64 lead with two events left.

The Birmingham foursome of sisters Gigi and Vincetta Mendola, Wilson and Vonnie Fulford won the 1,600 relay in 3:53.64 to go with their earlier victory in the 400 relay in 47.73, but Taft's fourth-place finish in 4:01.68 gave the Toreadors their final margin.

Reed, a senior, anchored the 1,600 relay and won the 400 in 55.96 before finishing a nonscoring eighth in the 100 a short time later.

Brignac, a junior who transferred from Cleveland last fall, won her third consecutive title in the high jump with a 5-8 clearance and placed second in the long jump in a career-best 18-4.

Senior Jessica Cosby of Cleveland won the shotput in a meet-record 48-6 to become the first athlete in meet history to win four titles in one event.

Cleveland performed brilliantly in the boys' meet, winning the 400 relay in a school-record 41.39, the 1,600 relay in 3:17.27 and getting a 47.83 victory from junior Jason Lovell in the 400.

Senior Fred Williams, who didn't run for the Toreadors last year, won the 100 in 10.68 to tie his career best and won the 200 in a career-best 21.12.

Junior Chris Morgan totaled 32 points for Taft.

He began the meet by winning his second consecutive title in the long jump with a leap of 22-9 1/2 and edged Kenan Jackson of Cleveland in the 110 high hurdles, 14.07 to 14.10. He placed second in the the 100 in a career- best 10.72 before finishing fourth in the 300 intermediates in 40.30.

Junior Chris Wells-Anders of El Camino Real won the 800 in a career-best 1:53.00.

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