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High Schools | GIRLS' TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

She's a Cut Above

A year of personal bests, including a world junior record, makes Felix's case emphatically.

June 20, 2003|John Ortega | Times Staff Writer

Billie Jo Grant of Arroyo Grande set a Southern Section record of 183 feet 6 inches in the girls' discus this season to move to fifth on the all-time national performer list in the event.

Sharon Day of Costa Mesa raised the Southern Section record in the high jump to 6-2 to move into a tie for ninth on the national list in that event.

Shalonda Solomon of Long Beach Poly ran 11.35 seconds in the 100 meters and 23.08 in the 200 to move into a tie for 11th on the national list in the former event and into a tie for 12th in the latter.

Yet none of them were given serious consideration when it was time to select The Times' girls' track and field athlete of the year because of two words:

Allyson Felix.

Felix, who will graduate from North Hills Los Angeles Baptist today, was selected as the girls' athlete of the year as a junior after winning the 100 and 200 meters in the state championships.

She was even more impressive this season, setting a world junior (age 19 and under) record of 22.11 seconds in the 200, running a career-best 11.29 in the 100 and clocking a career-best 52.26 in the 400, an event she contested sparingly.

Her 22.11 clocking in the 200 came in the Banamex Grand Prix meet in Mexico City on May 3 and broke a 23-year-old record, moved her to 10th on the all-time U.S. women's performer list and is the fastest time in the world this year.

It also came two weeks after she ran 22.51 to win the women's race of the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut to break the national high school record of 22.58 set by Marion Jones of Thousand Oaks in 1992.

Felix's 11.29 clocking in the 100 gave her a third consecutive state title in that event and moved her into a tie for seventh on the all-time national list. She also won the 200 in 22.52 in the state meet to record the fastest time run in a U.S. high school meet.

Her 52.26 effort in the 400, which came in her first outdoor meet of the season in late March, is the second-fastest high school time in the nation this year and moved her to 10th on the all-time state list.

In short, the smooth-striding Felix had one of the greatest seasons by a U.S. high school girl, but it could get better this weekend when she runs in the women's 200 in the U.S. outdoor championships at Stanford.

Some people are predicting a victory for Felix, who has signed with USC, in the final. But the humble, 17-year-old phenom is most concerned about a top-three finish and a berth on the U.S. team that will run in the world championships in Paris in August.

"My No. 1 goal at the start of the season was to make the U.S. team in the 200," Felix said last month. "The times I've run have changed my goals about the world championships. I now think I can make the final, but first I have to make the team."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

THE TIMES' RANKINGS

Final top 10 rankings of girls' track and field teams in the Southland:

1. LONG BEACH POLY (SS-Div. I)

Led by junior sprinter Shalonda Solomon, won state title after rolling to third consecutive Division I championship.

2. RIVERSIDE NORTH (SS-Div. II)

Finished second in state championships after winning Division II title with record 136-point total.

3. LONG BEACH WILSON (SS-Div. I)

Runner-up to Moore League rival Long Beach Poly in Division I championships and third in state meet.

4. ARROYO GRANDE (SS-Div. I)

Senior thrower Billie Jo Grant led Eagles to fourth-place finish in state championships.

5. L.A. BAPTIST (SS-Div. IV)

Senior Allyson Felix paced Knights to fifth place in state championships by winning 100 and 200 meters.

6. ESPERANZA (SS-Div. I)

Senior Alison Costello was best 1,600 and 3,200 runner in the Southland.

7. WOODBRIDGE (SS-Div. II)

Had talented senior tandem in long/triple jumper Michelle Sanford and distance runner Kristen Berglas.

8. HARVARD-WESTLAKE (SS-Div. III)

Junior Lindsay Flacks placed sixth in the 3,200 in the state and sophomore Anna Farias-Eisner seventh in the 1,600.

9. GARDENA (City)

Led by freshman quarter-miler Myra Hasson and junior sprinter Cristal Steen.

10. MISSION VIEJO (SS-Div. II)

Paced by senior thrower Priscilla Gardner and junior pole vaulter Whitney Johnson.

-- John Ortega

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