Los Angeles Dorsey is heavily favored to win its first boys' track and field title in five years and defending champion Lake Balboa Birmingham and Gardena are expected to battle for the girls' crown in the City Section championships today at Birmingham.
Dorsey, which is also regarded as a state-title favorite, is expected to win or contend for titles in nine of the 15 boys' events in the meet that starts with freshman-sophomore field events at 2 p.m. and running events at 5:30.
Junior David Gettis of Dorsey, the defending state champion in the 400 meters, is favored to win that event and is a co-favorite in the 200. He will also run a leg on a 400 relay team that posted the fastest qualifying time in the City preliminaries last week and anchor a 1,600 relay team that has the fastest time in the nation this year at 3 minutes 12.46 seconds.
Senior teammate Kai Kelley will run on both relay teams and is favored to win his second consecutive titles in the 110 high hurdles and the 300 intermediate hurdles.
The Birmingham girls' team, which is trying to win its third title in four years, could score points in 10 events and should be particularly strong in the distance races and relays.
Gardena, which finished second to Birmingham last year, is expected to score the bulk of its points in the sprints, hurdles and relays.
The top three finishers in most varsity events automatically qualify for the state championships June 4-5 in Sacramento, as well any finisher that meets at-large qualifying standards.
Junior Josh Castaneda of La Verne Bonita will enter the Southern Section Masters Meet on Friday at Cerritos College on a roll.
Castaneda, who ran a then-career best of 1 minute 55.71 seconds to finish third in the boys' 800 meters in the Southern Section Division III final last year, lowered his best to 1:55.21 to win an open race of the Arcadia Invitational on April 10 and ran 1:54.82 to win a qualifying heat of the Division III preliminaries on May 15.
Then came the section championships on Saturday, when Castaneda clocked 1:52.72 to win the Division III title by nearly three seconds and move to third on the yearly state list behind seniors Michael Haddan of Irvine Woodbridge, who has run 1:52.52, and Bryan Rodie of Simi Valley Royal, who ran 1:52.71 to win the Division I title.
"We thought he was going to run about 1:53," Bonita Coach George King said about Castaneda, who will race 2002 state champion Haddan and Rodie in the Masters Meet. "But he's a very talented kid. You can't put any limits on him."
Senior Daniel Nunn of San Luis Obispo has withdrawn from the boys' 1,600 in the Masters Meet so he can focus on the 3,200. He will be replaced by junior Alex Greenburg of Upland.
-- John Ortega
Norco left-hander Josh Romanski had been waiting nearly a year for his starting assignment on Tuesday.
Last season, Romanski, then a sophomore at Corona Centennial, was knocked out in the first inning of a 17-0 loss to Valencia in a Southern Section Division II quarterfinal game.
He transferred to Norco over the summer and Tuesday got his chance to face Valencia again, this time in a second-round game at Norco.
He responded with a four-hitter, driving in two runs and scoring one to lead the Cougars to a 4-1 victory over the second-seeded Vikings.
"It was more than another game for him," said his father, Andy Romanski. "He waited the whole year for redemption."
Norco (22-6) advanced to play Placentia El Dorado (20-9) in a quarterfinal on Friday. It will be the Cougars' first appearance in the quarterfinals since 1984.
-- Dan Arritt
Fullerton Rosary (23-8), seeded second in the Southern Section Division I playoffs, will get its first look at freshman pitcher Lindsay Dean when the Royals travel to Camarillo for a quarterfinal game today.
Dean (11-1) has stabilized the Scorpions (22-7), who lost four of their first seven games as Coach Jack Willard juggled four pitchers.
After spring vacation, Dean struck out 15 in nine innings against Hueneme. That led to a second consecutive start, followed by a third.
"The defense improved -- she strikes out more kids, that's a few less plays you have to make," Willard said.
-- Martin Henderson
With top-seeded Corona del Mar and Cerritos Whitney losing their playoff quarterfinal matches on Tuesday, none of the remaining defending Southern Section champions -- Fullerton Troy in Division II, Long Beach Poly in Division III and Brentwood in Division IV -- is the top-seeded team in its division.
Fourth-seeded Troy (24-2) lost seven starters from its 2003 squad but hasn't been seriously tested in the postseason.
In a rematch of last season's Division II championship match, the Warriors play host today to top-seeded Palm Desert (22-1) in a semifinal.
Second-seeded Long Beach Poly (20-3), which beat Riverside Poly, 16-2, in a quarterfinal, visits Pasadena Poly (16-6). Both teams are strong at singles with Long Beach Poly led by Pierre Batton and Pasadena Poly by Alex Krueger-Wyman.
Brentwood (17-6), seeded second in Division IV, visits Cerritos (21-2).
-- Elia Powers