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Collins Gets More Gold for Collection

June 04, 2006|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

Ebony Collins could have lamented any number of things that went wrong during the state track and field championships Saturday at Cerritos College, but instead she chose to celebrate what went right.

She didn't set a national record in the 300 hurdles and she finished third in the 100 meters, coming up short in her bid to repeat the four-gold-medal performance she turned in last year, but she won the 300 hurdles and ran legs on the winning 400 and 1,600 relay teams.

And although the three gold medals and one bronze she won Saturday were nice, none meant as much as another piece of jewelry she won -- a ring.

Collins' performance helped Long Beach Wilson accumulate 37 team points and tie for the team title with Union City Logan. Collins' three firsts and a third meant she was involved in scoring 36 of the 37 team points.

"A ring is pretty special," said Collins, who was trying to become the first to win four golds in a state meet twice. "Four gold medals would be nice, but what I did last year was spectacular. You can't expect to do that more than once, but the ring more than makes up for it. It means we accomplished something big together."

Collins' 40.13 in the 300 hurdles was the third-fastest all-time by a high school girl, .03 off her state-meet record from last year and shy of the 39.98 national record she had hoped to eclipse. Scorching heat may have been a factor, because Collins collapsed with cramps at the end of the race.

The cramps returned as she ran the 1,600 relay, but Collins had a pretty good idea that the team title was on the line and said she didn't know what to do about it other than run through it.

She flew past Shana Woods of Long Beach Poly with about 80 meters to go, and her anchor-leg of 52.8 seconds helped Wilson win in a national-best 3:37.14 -- seventh on the all-time high school list -- and win a share of the team title.

"I've never stopped in a race before, so I just kept on running," Collins said. "I didn't want to let my team down."

Bryshon Nellum won the boys' 200 in 20.96 and the 400 in 46.38, and he was the anchor on Long Beach Poly's second-place team in the 1,600 relay, helping the Jackrabbits to a dominant victory in the team race with 42 points.

Pomona Diamond Ranch, led by double-winner Terry Prentice in the long jump and 110 hurdles, and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame tied for second with 26 points.

It is Poly's state-leading ninth boys' team title, but first since 1998.

"I actually really appreciate winning the state title as a team," Nellum said. "I was kind of hoping we would win the [1,600 relay], but winning the team title more than makes up for it."

The girls' 1,600 featured one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. Defending champion Annie St. Geme of Corona del Mar led most of the way, but she appeared to kick too soon, then slowed significantly on the homestretch and finished fourth.

Christine Babcock of Irvine Woodbridge, the fourth-place finisher in the Southern Section Masters meet last week, who had a personal best time of 4:49 before Saturday, won the race in 4:41.29, the fastest time run by a high school girl in the nation this year.

"I guess I'm as surprised as anyone," said Babcock, who last year didn't even make it through the Southern Section preliminaries. "I just thought making the state finals was a good accomplishment, let alone doing well."

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