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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | TRACK AND FIELD

Foster Has Cleared Toughest Hurdle

April 12, 2001|JOHN ORTEGA

Chris Foster of Ventura High is not expected to battle Anthony Francis of Giddings (Texas) High or Chris Morgan of Taft for first place in the boys' 110-meter high hurdles in the Arcadia Invitational track and field meet at Arcadia High on Saturday night.

That Foster is in the invitational field of the meet is a victory in itself, however, because he missed his junior season after undergoing surgery on his right knee to reconstruct a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Foster partially tore the ligament while bouncing on a trampoline in December of 1999 and it snapped completely about a month later while he was stretching before track practice.

"I didn't think [the injury] was that bad at first," he said. "I even thought about trying to run last season without having surgery. But the more I talked to doctors, the more worried I got. I realized that it was a very serious injury."

The injury was serious enough to put his athletic future in doubt and serious enough that few would have imagined him running as well as he has this season.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Foster had a team-high 25 receptions for 466 yards and five touchdowns while playing wide receiver on Ventura's Southern Section Division IV championship football team last year.

But track Coach John Beattie figured it would take several meets for Foster to approach the form that saw him run 14.85 as a sophomore and place eighth in the Southern Section Division II final.

It didn't.

He ran 14.55 to win the Channel Coast Invitational at Camarillo High on March 17 and clocked 14.58 to finish second in the Santa Barbara Easter Relays at Santa Barbara City College a week later.

Then came a hand-held clocking of 14.1 against Santa Barbara five days after that.

"He got a good start and came up strong over the first three hurdles," Beattie said of that race. "Then it looked like he just accelerated. He just took off. That's something I had never seen him do before."

Foster, whose sister Angela set a national junior college record of 185 feet in the women's hammer throw for Moorpark last year, has been pleasantly surprised by his success this season. But he isn't satisfied.

He wants to advance to the state championships for the first time and break the 14-second barrier.

A clocking of 13.99 or faster would require Foster to improve greatly by the end of the season, but he figures it's possible with improvements in his technique.

"Running fast in the hurdles isn't always about [who has the best leg speed]," he said. "It's about who has the best technique. I try and perfect all the little things."

*

Senior Daniel Clements of Taft will be one of 12 competitors in a superb field in the boys' invitational mile at Arcadia.

Clements, who has a best of 4:17.59 in the 1,600 meters, was on the verge of being put in the seeded race. He was added to the invitational when Bobby Lockhart of Winchester, Va., and Stephen Haas of North Mecklenberg, N.C., opted to run the 3,200 instead of the mile.

Lockhart has run 4:09.81 in the mile and Haas 4:12.90 in the 1,600.

Seniors Alan Webb of Reston, Va., and Ryan Hall of Big Bear head the mile entries.

Webb was the No. 3-ranked miler in the nation last year and set a national indoor record of 3:59.86 in January.

Hall was ranked second last year and his 1,500-meter best of 3:45.12 converts to a 4:03.13 mile.

*

Senior Seth Amoo of Highland and sophomore Treani Swain of Oakwood, the state leaders in the boys' 200 meters and girls' 800, respectively, won't run in the Arcadia Invitational.

Amoo, who has run 21.32 in the 200, will be on a recruiting trip to Tennessee.

Swain, who has clocked 2:14.10 in the 800, will be competing in the Russell Cup small schools meet at Carpinteria High.

Swain is entered in the 400, 800, 1,600 and 1,600 relay in the Russell Cup, but Oakwood Coach Eric Walter said she might not run the 800.

*

Alexis Weatherspoon of Grant, two-time defending City Section champion in the girls' 100 and 200, is another top athlete from the region who won't compete at Arcadia.

Weatherspoon, fifth in the 100 and 200 in the state championships last year, doesn't want to push things after making her season debut last week.

The USC-bound Weatherspoon ran 11.77 in the 100 and 23.90 in the 200 last year but took a longer than usual break between basketball and track this year to try to avoid the late-season injuries that hampered her the previous two seasons.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Top 10

Rankings of track and field teams from the region

BOYS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 1 Taft (West Valley) 2 2 Birmingham (West Valley) 3 3 Rio Mesa (Pacific View) 4 4 Palmdale (Golden) 5 5 Notre Dame (Mission) 6 6 Valencia (Foothill) 7 7 Cleveland (West Valley) 8 8 Hueneme (Pacific View) 9 9 Royal (Marmonte) 10 10 Canyon (Foothill)

*--*

GIRLS

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 1 Rio Mesa (Pacific View) 2 2 Birmingham (West Valley) 3 3 Cleveland (West Valley) 4 4 Notre Dame (Mission) 5 5 Canyon (Foothill) 6 6 Royal (Marmonte) 7 7 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 8 8 Crescenta Valley (Pacific) 9 9 Moorpark (Marmonte) 10 10 Buena (Channel)

*--*

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