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TRACK AND FIELD

O.C. Championships Come Early

April 03, 2001|DAN ARRITT

The Orange County Championships on Saturday will be held a little earlier than usual this season, squeezed between the March warm-up meets and the nationally recognized Arcadia Invitational on April 14.

The early date has created some conflict and concern, but not enough to keep most of the county's top teams from participating.

The Edison boys' team will be the biggest no show, choosing instead to compete at the Oakland Relays. The Chargers' absence likely leaves Tustin and Santa Margarita to battle for the title until the final event, the 1,600-meter relay.

The Tillers came close last year, leading by four points with two events remaining, but Esperanza rallied to win behind Ryan Bousquet's victory in the 3,200.

Most of Tustin's key contributors are back this season, including Alex Marbley, Alonso Smith, Chris Chester and Denny Casupanan.

Marbley shares the state lead in the high jump with a mark of 6 feet 10 inches, which he has cleared three times this season. He first made the height at the Long Beach Relays two weeks ago, then narrowly missed becoming the fifth county jumper to clear 7-0.

"He was getting off the mat when the bar came down," said Tustin Coach Tom Coffey. "He was already celebrating."

Smith is the county leader in the 800 meters and should get his first push this season from Capistrano Valley's Kris Monte, who joined Smith at the state finals last spring.

Chester, who will play football at Oklahoma in the fall, has the second-best discus mark (170 feet) in the county this season and Casupanan is a threat to win the long jump after finishing third in this meet last season.

Santa Margarita should challenge the Tillers. The Eagles won the 1,600 relay Saturday at the Pasadena Games in 3:18.18, the county's fastest time by 10 seconds.

Santa Margarita's Sean Zeitler (300 hurdles), Matt Johnson (high jump), Brad Slinkard (pole vault) and Scott Langford (100,200) are also among the county leaders in their events.

Trabuco Hills junior Matt Bruno will try to become the first athlete to win three events since Mission Viejo's Mark Gleason in 1998. Bruno has the county's leading marks in the 100, 200 and long jump this season and should benefit from weakened fields in the sprints.

COUNTY GIRLS' COMPETITION

The girls' team race could also come down to the wire, as it did last season when Mater Dei's Lindsay Wells held off Esperanza's Maribeth Buche in the final straightaway of the 1,600 relay, giving the Monarchs a one-point victory over Esperanza.

Woodbridge and Mission Viejo are each led by elite multi-event athletes, and both have the depth to score in a number of events.

According to meet director Al Britt, Woodbridge sophomore Michelle Sanford is entered in the maximum four events, the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump, although she could opt out of one of those events and run a leg on the 400 relay.

Sanford is the defending champion in the 100 and long jump and finished runner-up in the triple jump. She also won a state title in the long jump last season.

Mission Viejo is led by senior Dana Bethel, who is entered in the long jump and 100 hurdles and has been a state finalist in both the last two years. She was runner-up at state two years ago, and both Bethel and Sanford produced 20-foot marks last summer.

The girls' 100 will also feature the last two county champions--Sanford in 2000 and Santa Ana Valley's Crystal Davis in 1999--trying to beat county leader Marquita Taylor of San Clemente.

Esperanza will have its traditionally strong throwing corps and some talented middle distance runners to keep it in contention, and Corona del Mar and Newport Harbor have been performing especially well in recent weeks.

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If you have an item or idea for the track and field report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at: dan.arritt@latimes.com

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

TRACK & FIELD TOP 10

Orange County Sportswriters' Poll

GIRLS

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Pos. School League 1. Woodbridge (1) Sea View 2. Mission Viejo (2) South Coast 3. Esperanza (3) Sunset 4. Newport Harbor (4) Sea View 5. Corona del Mar (5) Pacific Coast 6. Santa Margarita (6) Serra 7. Mater Dei (7) Serra 8. Dana Hills (8) South Coast 9. Santa Ana Valley (9) Century 10. Cypress (10) Empire

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BOYS

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Pos. School League 1. Edison (1) Sunset 2. Tustin (2) Golden West 3. Santa Margarita (3) Serra 4. Newport Harbor (4) Sea View 5. Esperanza (5) Sunset 6. Mission Viejo (6) South Coast 7. Valencia (7) Orange 8. Cypress (NR) Empire 9. Trabuco Hills (9) South Coast 10. Corona del Mar (10) Pacific Coast

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Last week's ranking in parentheses

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