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Santin Closes Fast in Northridge Open


NORTHRIDGE — Heavy rains in the morning and cold winds throughout the day combined to reduce the number of competitors in the Northridge Open track and field meet at Cal State Northridge on Saturday.

Junior Frances Santin of Cal State Northridge didn't let the conditions get her down, however, in the low-key competition that had the feel of an all-comers' meet.

Santin, from Taft High, won the women's 400 meters in 55.17 and the 200 in a hand-timed and wind-aided 24.7 while looking forward to running the 400 low hurdles in a meet against Nebraska and host UCLA next Saturday.

The 400 hurdles is Santin's specialty.

It's the race in which she advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic trials last summer and it's the race in which she is the No. 5 returning competitor at the NCAA Division I level.

"I'm looking for a real good race next week," she said.

"I want to [exceed the automatic qualifying standard of 57.50 for the NCAA championships] so I can relax a little bit."

Exceeding the automatic qualifying standard this early in the season would have been far-fetched for Santin last year.

But her confidence and expectations have soared after running a career best of 56.67 in the 400 hurdles in the Olympic trials and qualifying for the 800 in last month's NCAA indoor championships.

"This year I feel a lot stronger," Santin said. "Running that [2:06.92] 800 indoors just boosted my confidence level up and let me know that I have a chance of being one of the nation's best 400 hurdlers."

The strength needed to run the 800 was evident in both of Santin's victories, as she pulled away from Kasaundra Perkins in the homestretch of the 400 and she powered past teammate Georgia Wilkins with 50 meters left in the 200.

Sophomore Dee Scott of Cal State Northridge, the Big Sky Conference indoor champion in the women's triple jump, won the long jump in a wind-aided 19 feet.

Senior Jason Lovell of Cleveland High, competing unattached, won the men's 400 in 48.50 and finished third in the first heat of the 200 in a wind-aided 21.5.

Senior Melissa Astete of Birmingham High, also competing unattached, placed second in the women's pole vault in 12 feet.

Lovell, defending City Section champion in the 400, won that event in 48.5 and the 200 in 21.5 in a meet at Birmingham on Wednesday, but he wanted to test himself against college and post-college competition at Northridge.

"I wanted to work on running my race against faster people," he said. "I've had trouble when I run against the top competition.

"Sometimes I fall into running their race instead of running my own."

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