MEET IS BACK WITHOUT GLITTER.
The L.A. Invitational is back on track.
After a one-year layoff, caused in part by Sunkist dropping its corporate sponsorship, the indoor track meet returns to the Sports Arena today. High school events, spotlighting the Football 50-meter dash, starts at 11:15 a.m. (except the shot put and discus events at USC at 9 a.m.). Open competition begins at 7 p.m.
Shot putter John Godina and half-miler Johnny Gray are the biggest names in an otherwise lackluster talent pool that in years past featured such headliners as Wilma Rudolph, Rafer Johnson, Carl Lewis, Bob Seagren and Jim Ryun.
Promoter Al Franken optimistically predicted a turnout of 8,000. Tickets are $23 (reserved) and $10 (general admission) and can be purchased at the Sports Arena box office or through Ticketmaster.
Godina is a two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist at Atlanta. Gray, track's elder statesman who will be 38 in July, won the 1992 Olympic bronze medal in Barcelona.
``I'm real excited,'' Godina said. ``I think rumors that track and field is dead are greatly exaggerated. It was a disappointment when the meet didn't happen last year. People want to see great performances.''
Godina said he will be shooting for the indoor shot put record of 74-4. His best is 72-2, and in practice he says he has been consistently approaching 70 feet.
An abundance of local talent will be on display in the high school division, although Notre Dame High's Justin Fargas will not appear.
The Football 50, featuring several scholarship-bound running backs, is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Muir High's Sultan McCullough, Alemany's Miguel Fletcher, Palmdale's Jason Anderson, and Tustin's DeShaun Foster (who just committed to UCLA) are the most recognizable names.
McCullough, who gained more than 2,100 yards last season, is the favorite. He clocked a national-best 20.62 in the 200 in 1997. He runs a 10.54 100.
Fletcher, who like McCullough has committed to USC, has been a state finalist in the 100 and 200 dash the past two years. Anderson, who rushed for more than 1,300 yards to lead Palmdale into the Division II football quarterfinals, was the Golden League 100 champion as a junior. Foster, who totaled 3,398 rushing yards - second-best performance in California prep history - and 59 touchdowns in 14 games this past football season, is also a top sprinter who placed fourth in the Southern Section Division II finals in 1997.
There will be four other 50 dash heats. Birmingham's Demetrus Patterson, sixth in the state last year with a 10.6 100, is featured in the first heat, and Antelope Valley's Joe Manning in the second.
``For many of these young athletes, this meet is the culmination of their high school career because only very few will go on,'' meet co-chairman Don Franken said. ``But for one night they get to compete side by side with Olympic athletes and in front of a big crowd.''
Canyon's Laurel Fleshman is scheduled to run the girls' seeded mile and the two-mile. She ran the 3,200 meters in 10:38 last season, eighth fastest in the country, and fourth among sophomores. Birmingham's Tiffany Burgess, last year's L.A. City Section 1,600-meter champion as a sophomore, squares off with Fleshman in the mile.
``My goal is to go under five minutes in the mile,'' Fleshman said.
Simi Valley's Ryan Meuse, who recently committed to Stanford, figures to win the 880 yards. He was the CIF Masters champion last year, placing sixth in the state.
``I'm looking forward to the meet,'' said Meuse, also a standout soccer player. ``Eventually I want to break 1:50 and win state.''
L.A. INVITATIONAL INDOOR TRACK MEET
WHERE: Sports Arena.
WHEN: Today. High school events start at 11:15 a.m. Open competition begins at 7 p.m.
TICKETS: Available through Ticketmaster and at the Sports Arena box office ($23 reserved, $10 general admission).
HEADLINERS: John Godina, shot put; Johnny Gray, men's 880; Tyree Washington, men's 500; Mebrahtom Keflezighi, men's 3,000; Scott Slover, pole vault; Falilat Okunkoya, women's 500.
AREA PREP FAVORITES
Name High school Event
Sultan McCullough Muir 50 meters
Demetrus Patterson Birmingham 50 meters
Ryan Meuse Simi Valley 880 yards
Troy Becker Agoura pole vault
Anthony KellyMuir 50 meter hurdles
Tiffany Thompson Notre Dame 50 meters
Tiffany Burgess Birmingham mile
Lauren Fleshman Canyon two-mile
Heather Sickler Camarillo pole vault
Bridget Pearson Hoover pole vault
Disia Page Muir long jump
Ika Eliashvili Birmingham triple jump
Box: L.A. INVITATIONAL INDOOR TRACK MEET (See Text)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Feb 7, 1998|
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