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Stokes, Welch and Warren pull off doubles

By Jared Green, Daily Planet Staff
Monday April 08, 2002

Girls shine for St. Mary’s at OAL Invitional, while Panther boys continue to improve 


The St. Mary’s girls continued their outstanding start to the track & field season on Saturday at the OAL Invitational, as they won five individual events and one relay. 

The meet, held at Edwards Stadium on the Cal campus, was host to most of Northern California’s top teams and was a good warmup for the Arcadia Invitational next week, which will draw the state’s top performers. 

Danielle Stokes had the most impressive day for the Panthers, winning both hurdles races and running in the team’s second-place sprint medley team. Saturday was yet another showdown between Stokes and James Logan’s Talia Stewart in the intermediate hurdles, and Stokes came out on top by a scant .04 of a second. Stewart beat Stokes last weekend at the Stanford Invitational, putting up the best time in the state so far this season, but the St. Mary’s senior made it hard to pick a favorite at Arcadia. 

“It feels good to beat her today, but our times weren’t as fast as (at Stanford),” Stokes said. “I hope for a personal record more than worrying about who I’m running against.” 

Stokes cruised to a win in the 300-meter hurdles, winning by nearly 10 yards despite it being the first time she has run the race this season. 

The other double on the girls’ side came from a thoroughly unsurprising source: Kamaiya Warren. One of the state’s top throwers, Warren easily took the shotput and discus titles on Saturday, but the manner in which she did so was a change-up. After setting personal records in the shotput at the previous two meets, Warren struggled in the event, while she had her longest throw of the season, 150’5”, in the discus. The senior had no explanation for the reversal, although a lack of serious competition in either event may have thrown her off. 

“I’ve been practicing both events the same amount,” she said. “My coaches told me I’ve been thinking about technique in the discus too much, so I just let it go today.” 

Bridget Duffy won the other individual title for St. Mary’s in the 3,200-meter run. Duffy ran out to a quick lead and set the pace for the first four laps, then fell back to the pack before pulling away on the final lap. St. Mary’s distance coach Dennis Mohun indicated that wasn’t exactly Duffy’s game plan, but she still won the race going away despite sitting for nearly six hours between events. 

After setting a new state mark in the distance medley at Stanford last weekend, the Panthers were the clear favorite in the 4x800-meter relay on Saturday. But no one could have predicted that Duffy would give her team an 80-meter lead after the opening leg, and her teammates just had to maintain that margin. Gabriela Rios-Sotelo, Willa Porter and Parris Vega did just that, finishing the race with the third-fastest time in the state. Mohun said his team might have challenged the state mark if they had been pushed at all by the competition. 

The only disappointment on the girls’ side was that they didn’t take the team title, due to the heavier weight given to the relays, which James Logan dominated. 

“We had come stellar individual performances today,” St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson said. “We have a lot of quality, but we can’t match the depth of Logan (which has more than 3,000 students while St. Mary’s has just over 600).” 

Tiffany Johnson finished second in the long jump with an 18’3” effort, the same distance as her winning jump at Stanford. She scratched out of the triple jump due to some stiffness, and came in sixth among a stacked field in the 100-meter dash. But Lawson is optimistic about next week’s big event. 

“A lot of times you feel like you have a lot of potential going into a season, but right now all the girls are performing at their best, getting personal records,” Lawson said. “We can’t be in any better position heading down to Arcadia.” 

The St. Mary’s boys managed to avoid any disaster like Steve Murphy’s two false starts at Stanford, but got just two wins, both from Solomon Welch.  

The Stanford-bound senior has yet to lose a jumping event in California this season, winning both the long and triple with good jumps in the early rounds. While he wasn’t pleased with his efforts on Saturday despite winning both events, Welch said he’s ready to face the tough field at Arcadia. 

“My best competition will all be there, even some guys who can out-jump me,” he said. “I like to have competition.” 

Welch was left out of the 100-meter hurdles due to a paperwork error, and felt that hurt his jumps. 

“When I run hurdles, that’s when I get my personal records (in the jumps), because it gets me into a running mode,” Welch said. “I’m not really happy with my marks. I’ve been jumping that far since I was a sophomore.” 

The boys’ sprint medley team matched the girls’ second-place finish in the sprint medley, then finished second in the 4x200 relay as well, but the Panthers didn’t do much individually. Jason Bolden-Anderson had their highest singles finish, third in the 100-meter hurdles. Chris Dunbar continued his slow return from a pair of hamstring injuries, running in the slow flight of the 400-meter race, and Omarr Flood and Courtney Brown were deterred by the absence of the 200-meter dash at the Invitational. 

“This was the first meet where I felt like we’re beginning to run well,” Lawson said of the boys. “I feel like training-wise, we’re still a few weeks away from getting to the top of our game. By early May, we should be able to show some people something.”