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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | TRACK AND FIELD

Sprinter Has Shown She Can Go the Distance

March 22, 2001|JOHN ORTEGA

It's a good thing athletes are allowed to compete in only four events in high school track and field meets.

Otherwise, Canyon co-coaches Dave DeLong, Paul Broneer and Bryan Lowe might be tempted to enter freshman Alysia Johnson in seven or eight events a meet.

The outgoing Johnson is a rare athlete for a couple of reasons.

First, she can excel in events as short as a 100-meter dash or as long as a 5,000-meter cross-country run.

Secondly, she is willing to compete in whatever events her coaches ask.

Most girls who can run 25.3 for 200 meters--as Johnson did in a meet at Glendale High two weeks ago--are opposed to running anything farther than a leg on the 1,600 relay.

But Johnson ran 2:17 and 2:19 on 800-meter legs in the Northridge-Alemany Relays at Cal State Northridge on Saturday and was the No. 4 runner on a cross-country team that placed fourth in the state Division II final in November.

"She's one of the most uncomplaining runners I've ever coached," said DeLong, Canyon's cross-country coach. "She never says, 'I can't' or 'Why do I have to do this?' You tell her what the workout is and she does it."

Johnson was an established age-group performer in the 200 and 400 before she arrived at Canyon, but DeLong and his coaching staff got her to run cross-country for the first time.

"Everyone kept telling me, 'You'll never get her. She'll never come out,' " DeLong said. "But she did."

Johnson and freshmen Leanne Riggin and Lauren Walker helped Canyon become one of the top Division II cross-country teams in the state, but DeLong, Broneer and Lowe knew her best performances would come on the track.

The question is, in what events?

Broneer says the 5-foot-7 Johnson is a 200-400 sprinter, but DeLong figures the 800 might ultimately be her best event.

"Dave keeps trying to tell me that she's a miler or 800 runner," Broneer said. "But she has a pure body type for a 400. She's a quarter-miler, 200 sprinter who could get in the 24s on an all-weather track in the next couple of weeks."

Johnson, who ran 4:46.7 in the first--and only--1,500-meter race of her life when she was in the seventh grade, hasn't given much thought to which event is her best.

"I just go out and run," she said. "I want to do whatever I can to help the team."

*

Jason Lovell of Cleveland won the boys' 400 in 47.67 in the Northridge-Alemany Relays, but Jose Galeana of Littlerock and Randy Bundy of Cleveland also had noteworthy performances in that event.

Galeana, a senior, broke 49 seconds for the first time with a school-record 48.27 clocking behind Lovell, defending City Section champion.

Bundy, a junior, won the first of three heats in 48.68 to better his previous best of 49.55.

"The race surprised me," Galeana said. "I wasn't trying to run any set time. I just wanted to come in first."

Galeana won the 400 in the 1999 Northridge-Alemany Relays in a then career-best 49.50, but injuries and responsibilities outside athletics slowed his progress since.

Galeana missed the 1999 football season because he was working 30-35 hours a week after school to help support his family while his father was out of work with a back injury.

A tender left hamstring bothered him for much of last track season, but he has been relatively healthy this year.

Bundy placed third in the 400 in the City championships last year and was a member of a 1,600 relay team that placed second in the state championships. But his performance Saturday put him at another level.

"I asked [Randy] before the race what he thought he could run and he said, '49 low,' " sprint coach Bill Paden of Cleveland said. "I figured he could run faster than that, but I let him find out for himself."

*

The West Valley League 400 final in May could be a doozy because it should include Lovell and Bundy and juniors Ramal Porter of Birmingham and Tyrone Melton of Taft.

Porter was runner-up in the City final last year and has run a hand-timed 48.1.

Melton placed fourth in the City meet last year and ran 48.8 in a meet at San Pedro on Friday.

*

Hamstring injuries to senior Matthew Clarke and junior Davian Gatewood of Cleveland kept the Cavaliers' high-octane relay teams out of the Northridge-Alemany Relays, but Paden hopes they'll be at full strength for the Pasadena Games at Pasadena City College on March 31.

*

Can Ryan Hall of Big Bear break another record set by Jeff Nelson more than 20 years ago?

That question could be answered Saturday night when Hall runs in the boys' two-mile in the Meet of Champions Distance Classic at Azusa Pacific.

Nelson set a national record of 8:36.3 in the two-mile as a Burbank High senior in 1979.

Hall is said to be in phenomenal shape following a cross-country season in which he placed third in the national championships and slashed four seconds off Nelson's 22-year old course record over Mt. San Antonio College's 2.95-mile layout.

"He's in very good distance shape," said Mickey Hall, Ryan's father and the coach at Big Bear. "He's not in great [speed shape] yet, but he's very strong."

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