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Collins Setting Her Own Pace

April 16, 2006|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

Mid-season form doesn't mean much to Ebony Collins. It's the end of the season that most interests her, but if her performance Saturday during the Mount San Antonio College Relays is any indication, there could be something special down the road.

Collins, a junior from Long Beach Wilson, stole the show during the high school portion of the meet Saturday at Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, winning individual titles in the 100 meters, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles and adding a team title by running a leg on Wilson's 400-meter relay.

At the meet, she ran the fastest girls' high school time in the nation this season of 40.97 seconds in the 300 hurdles. Her 13.79 in the 100 hurdles would also be a national best if it had not been wind-aided.

Her 100-meter victory came in 11.55 seconds, which is No. 3 on the national high school list this year and the best by a Californian. The 400 relay team finished in 45.22, a meet record and second on this year's national list behind only Wilson's 45.12 last week at the Texas Relays.

"I feel a lot faster than I did at this time last year," said Collins, who was competing on a big stage for the first time as an individual this year. "I'm ahead of where I thought I would be right now."

That's bad news for her competitors because Collins won four gold medals at the state championships as a sophomore last year -- becoming only the second girl ever to win that many.

She said she hasn't felt any pressure because of that, but it has provided a little extra motivation during training.

"I feel like I need to prove that I can come back and do the same thing I did last year," she said.

The toughest part might be picking which events to run. She is now in the top five nationally in the 100, 400, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 400 relay and 1,600 relay, but there is a four-event maximum at the state championships. Last year, she won the 100 and 300 hurdles and ran legs on the 400 and 1,600 relays.

Another athlete who must choose among events is Nicole Blood of Simi Valley Royal. Blood, also running as an individual for the first time in a major meet, won the mile Saturday in 4 minutes 51.87 seconds.

Blood is among the top two-mile runners in the nation. She said she'll try to qualify for both events and make a decision based on how she feels. For now she says she plans to work her way back into track shape. She recently returned from Japan, where she was competing in the World Junior Cross-Country Championships.

All things considered, she said winning the mile Saturday was a good accomplishment.

"I'm just starting up my speed workouts, so I can't look for a [personal best] so early," she said. "But it was decent."

Other notable performances: Terry Prentice of Pomona Diamond Ranch doubled in the 110 and 300 hurdles. His 13.87 in the 110 hurdles is No. 3 on the national high school list this year.... Bryshon Nellum of Long Beach Poly scratched from the boys' 400, but he won the 200 in a wind-aided 20.99.... Ashika Charan of Claremont won the girls' long jump with a leap of 19 feet 8 inches, which is No. 2 on the national list.

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