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TRACK AND FIELD

Woepse Follows Her Father as Mater Dei Record-Holder

March 13, 2001|DAN ARRITT

Elizabeth Woepse has a pole vault pit in her backyard and an equally accessible coach, her father, Greg.

Elizabeth, a Mater Dei freshman, has enjoyed this convenience for more than two years, but never has it paid dividends like it did Saturday.

Woepse cleared a personal-best 11 feet in the pole vault during a three-way meet at Cypress High, breaking the school record and becoming only the ninth girl from the county to clear that height.

"I knew she was pretty good, but she's proving to be more than that," Mater Dei Coach Rick Martinez said.

Woepse's previous best mark was 10-6, which she recorded in an age-group competition last summer, but her effort Saturday was a surprise to everyone. Woepse said she didn't practice all week because her quadriceps were sore and was allowed only one chance at 11-0 because the event was running behind schedule.

Yet, she cleared the bar with ease.

"I'm pretty happy," Woepse said. 'I think I could've gone a little higher, but I had been hurt all week."

Greg Woepse was a former school record holder in the event at Mater Dei, where he graduated in 1975. He went on to compete at San Jose State and in the 1980 and '84 Olympic trials, owning a lifetime best of 18-5.

Greg Woepse got the itch to start jumping again about two years ago, so he built a pit in the family's Santa Ana backyard, complete with a runway and landing mat.

Soon the kids were enjoying dad's new toy as well.

Gregory, 13, the oldest of three boys, is an accomplished age-group competitor, owning a 10-foot jump to his credit, and Michael, 9, recently began jumping competitively.

"[The backyard setup] is great because we get to practice whenever," Elizabeth Woepse said.

Greg Woepse's eye for the technical aspect of the sport made him a prime candidate to coach the pole vaulters at Mater Dei. He volunteered, but was skeptical initially about whether he could coach his daughter at school.

"The first time Elizabeth saw me walk up at practice, she literally ran the other way," Greg Woepse. "I said to myself, 'I don't think this is going to work.' "

But the Woepses have found comfort with each other, causing a rise in Mater Dei's stock as it tries to defend its title at the Orange County Championships next month. The Monarchs will get a sold test Thursday, when they host Woodbridge, and Saturday, when they compete in the Long Beach Relays.

Woepse said she'd like to clear 13-0 at some point this season.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Capistrano Valley's Kris Monte is sticking to his plan of working on speed.

Monte, who finished fourth in state in the 800 meters last season, ran in the 200 in 25.49 seconds at the Irvine Invitational Saturday, finishing 24th overall. He also ran in the 400, where he finished fifth in 51.37. Tustin's Alonso Smith won the 800 in a meet-record 1:54.92.

Michelle Sanford, who won a state title in the long jump as a freshman at Woodbridge last season, skipped that event in favor of the 100, 200 and 400 relay, winning each event and helping the Warriors win the team competition.

LOOKING AHEAD

Corona del Mar's standout distance runner, Julie Allen, who transferred from Fountain Valley High, competes against her former teammates Wednesday.

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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 AND FIELD TOP 10

BOYS

Orange County Sportswriters' Poll

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Pos. School League 1. Tustin Golden West 2. Santa Margarita Serra 3. Mission Viejo South Coast 4. Newport Harbor Sea View 5. Edison Sunset 6. Esperanza Sunset 7. Corona del Mar Pacific Coast 8. Irvine Sea View 9. Woodbridge Sea View 10. El Toro South Coast

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GIRLS

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

*--*

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