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Magnolia's Faoa Finds Herself in Throes of Throwing Success

April 24, 2001|DAN ARRITT

This phone call couldn't wait.

Vao Faoa, a junior at Magnolia High, had just placed third in the invitational girls' discus competition April 14 at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational, when she called to relay the news to her brother, Asi, a former three-sport star at Magnolia now playing football for UCLA.

"He always calls me to see how I did," Vao said Saturday, her eyes still glowing with the excitement of her accomplishment. "This time I had to call him."

Vao looks forward to hearing the pride in Asi's voice. She knew her performance at Arcadia was a lifetime best--her third-place mark of 150 feet 9 inches was nearly 12 feet farther than her previous best effort--but she didn't learn until later where it would place her in the county record book.

The throw moved her from 22nd to fifth on the all-time county list and was the farthest throw by a county girl since 1989. It was even more impressive considering she participated in the first of two flights, which meant she had to sit through the entire second set of throwers before learning she was the eighth and final qualifier.

After warming up for a second time, she made her best throw on her second attempt.

"It was quite amazing," Magnolia Coach Rick Penn said. "When it was time for the finals, she just told me, 'I just don't want to finish eighth, coach.' "

Vao has always tried to emulate Asi, a student body president at Magnolia who was named Orange County's 1999 male athlete of the year by the Orange County Athletic Directors Assn.

Her goal is to achieve similar success in athletics and use her abilities to further her education. Like Asi, who also threw the discus and played basketball in high school, Vao excels in three sports. She plays volleyball for the Sentinels in the fall and basketball in the winter.

"She wants to accomplish all the things he did," said Penn, who coached Asi in track and football at Magnolia. "She excels in three sports, just like he did, and uses him as a role model in a lot of ways."

Penn said Vao and Asi are nearly identical in their mannerisms, the way they carry their athletic frames, even the way they look him in the eye when they speak.

Penn has been a strong source of support for both in the last year. In January, Asi Faoa pleaded not guilty to felony charges of mayhem and assault. He is accused of having thrown a punch that caused brain damage to a UCLA student at a Westwood party.

Vao said it has been a trying time for her family, which also includes an older sister, Kim, who recently finished Navy boot camp, three younger brothers and a fourth-grade cousin who also lives with the family.

"We just pray about it a lot," Vao said. "We just hope to get it behind us as soon as possible."

It was because of Asi that Vao began throwing the discus. Asi's best throw in high school--172-6--is No. 51 on the county's all-time boys' list, but he was good enough to finish second at the 1999 Southern Section Division II finals and seventh at Masters.

Vao also has a good chance to advance to Masters and hopes to qualify for the state championships. Her third-place mark from Arcadia is fifth best in the state this season and fourth best in the Southern Section.

Faoa is a long way from reaching the level of Natalie Kaaiawahia of Fullerton, a six-time state champion from 1980-83, who still holds county records in both the shotput (53-7 3/4) and discus (174-9), but she stands a good chance of catching some of the others on the county list.

That could happen Saturday at the Orange County Championships at Trabuco Hills High, but Faoa would be happy just to take home a victory.

If that happens, Asi should expect another phone call.


The Edison boys' team scratched from most of its events Saturday at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays, leaving open the opportunity to compete at the county championships.

Edison Coach Erich Moreno had previously said most of his key athletes would have competed in their maximum number of meets during the regular season and would not be eligible to race at Saturday's county meet.

But reached Saturday, Moreno said he scratched most of his team from Mt. SAC to leave them available for the county meet.

"It's on the back burner right now," Moreno said. First up is a key Sunset League dual meet Wednesday against Esperanza.


Lost in the shuffle of a busy Saturday at the Mt. SAC Relays was the second-place finish in the 6,400-meter relay by the Corona del Mar girls' team.

Julie Allen, Season Meservey, Katie Quinlan and Diana Hossfeld brought home the baton in 21:18.38, which was the second-best time in county history in the event. Tustin was clocked at 21:14.1 in 1985.

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Orange County Sportswriters' Poll



Pos. School League 1. Esperanza (1) Sunset 2. Woodbridge (3) Sea View 3. Mission Viejo (2) South Coast 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. Aliso Niguel (10) Sea View




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


Last week's rankings in parentheses

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