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Hill and Gooden Pick Up the Pace for Wilson Girls

April 04, 2002|John Ortega

Lashinda Demus, the national record-holder in the girls' 300-meter low hurdles, graduated from Long Beach Wilson High last June. But the Bruins are hardly in a rebuilding phase in the 300 hurdles this season.

That was evident Saturday in the Pasadena Games at Pasadena City College when juniors MacKenzie Hill and Dianna Gooden won their races in the event.

Hills' 43.82-second clocking in the invitational heat and Gooden's 44.75 effort in the open race were well off Demus' national record of 39.98, but those career-best times moved them to first and fifth on the yearly state list in the event.

Not bad for two 400 runners who took up the 300 hurdles in earnest this season after competing in the shadows of teammates such as Demus, Angel Tate and Ashley Freeman last year.

"We knew they'd be fast, but we didn't know they'd be that fast," said Ed Hauck, the Wilson boys' coach who works with Hill and Gooden from time to time. "We figured if they ran under 45 that would be good. We never expected the kind of times they ran, especially a sub-44 by MacKenzie."

Sidelined state champion: Riverside North, led by Chaunte Howard's victories in the girls' high jump, long jump and triple jump, turned in several noteworthy performances at the Pasadena Games. But junior Ashlee Brown was notable in her absence from the hurdle events.

Brown won the state title in the 300 lows last year after Demus failed to advance to the state meet, but she has not raced since finishing second in the 60 highs in the National Scholastic indoor championships in New York City on March 10.

"She has a bad hamstring," North Coach Charles Leathers said. "I don't expect her to race [in the Arcadia Invitational at Arcadia High on April 12-13]. Hopefully, we can get her back for [the Mt. Carmel Invitational] the following week."

Injury-prompted debut: When Riverside North sprinter Tracee Thomas was fitted with a cast three weeks ago to help immobilize an injured knee, Leathers knew his team's state-title chances were dimming.

So he approached Howard about adding the long jump to her list of competitive events that already included the high jump, in which she is the defending state champion, triple jump and 100 high hurdles.

Howard worked on the long jump in practice one afternoon last week before leaping a state-leading 19 feet 8 inches in a dual meet against Riverside Poly last Thursday and spanning a meet-record 19-73/4 in the Pasadena Games two days later.

"Basically, everyone has to step up," said the Georgia Tech-bound Howard.

Putting it behind him: Junior Noah Smith of Woodland Hills Taft felt he was incorrectly called for a false start in the boys' 100 at the Pasadena Games, but he did not use his disqualification from that event as motivation for the 200 later in the meet.

"I just had to put it behind me because it was messing with my head," said Smith, who won the 200 in 21.38, the second-fastest time in the state this year. "I did stay in the blocks a split-second longer [in the 200] because I didn't want to get called for another false start when I didn't think I jumped the first time."

Quick exit: T.J. Fakehinde of Fullerton Eastside Christian cleared a meet-record 7 feet in the boys' high jump in the Surf City Invitational at Huntington Beach High on March 24 but withdrew from the Pasadena Games after clearing 5-8 on his opening attempt of the competition.

"Our plan is to take one jump at Pasadena and call it a day," Eastside Christian Coach Rich Davis said several days before the meet. "I don't want to lose a whole day of training for that meet."

Davis had Fakehinde take one jump in the Pasadena Games so the competition would count toward one of seven meets Fakehinde is required to compete in during the regular season to be eligible for the Southern Section Division IV preliminaries on May 11.

Injured Don: Senior Jermaine Rolison of Dorsey, the fastest returning performer in the state in the boys' 110 high hurdles, strained a hamstring while running the first leg on the Dons' 400 relay team in the Pasadena Games and might not race again until the Mt. San Antonio College Relays on April 20.

"He wants to run at Arcadia," Dorsey boys' Coach Ralph Tilley said. "But he has to show me that he's completely 100% going into that meet. If he's not, I'm not going to let him run."

Rolison ran 14.29 in the high hurdles last year and clocked a hand-timed 14.2 in two meets earlier this season.

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