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NO DOUBT ABOUT IT THOUSAND OAKS THROWER BACK ON HER GAME.

Byline: Matthew Kredell Staff Writer

Margaret Giuffre had no answer for the taunts three weeks ago.

The Thousand Oaks thrower was at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays, one of the best meets of the regular season. It was the last time she would face top competition until the Southern Section Masters meet. Giuffre wanted to show she was a state contender in the discus, that her victory at Arcadia the previous week was no fluke.

Instead, she embarrassed herself. Her throw of 121 feet, 2 inches was worse than she did two years ago as a sophomore. An athlete from Arroyo Grande, a top throwing school, came over to mock her effort.

Giuffre couldn't respond. She was in agony. Her foot was hurting. She had a shooting pain every time she tried to push off. But she could not promise to come back with a vengeance at the end of the season.

Giuffre's doubts lasted just two weeks. At the Ventura County Championships last Friday, she threw a whopping 161-8, the best throw in the state this year and second best in the nation.

The quick turn from being unsure about her future to state favorite started with a trip to the doctor. She was told that she had a condition where the bones of her foot were too close together and were rubbing against each other to create the pain. The doctor recommended she wear a cast, but said it could wait until the offseason. Until then, she would feel some pain but would be in little danger of aggravating the injury.

Those words freed Giuffre from the mental cage that held her back at Mt. SAC.

``I was concerned because I didn't know what was wrong with it,'' Giuffre said. ``I didn't want to hurt myself anymore so I didn't want to try harder. That was part of the problem at Mt. SAC. I was too cautious. Now I can push myself again.''

The doctor also showed Giuffre how to properly tape up her foot and gave her a brace to wear during the day to immobilize the area.

It worked at the Ventura championships, where her throw was a personal best by six feet. More impressively, she did it with no competition. The closest competitor was more than 35 feet short.

All of a sudden, it looks like Thousand Oaks might have a state champion. Last summer, the coaches didn't even know they would have Giuffre.

She attended Thousand Oaks as a freshman and sophomore. Throws coach Ken Haefliger was ecstatic to have someone with her natural ability. After two weeks of training in drills as a freshman, Giuffre threw 105 feet the first time she touched a discus.

``I came out to be a sprinter and they said to try discus,'' Giuffre said. ``I was like 'What's discus?' When I threw my first discus, I ran over to pick it up and the coach yelled to drop it. I was like, 'Oh my god, what did I do?' But they just wanted to measure it. From that moment on, I was a thrower.''

Then Giuffre transferred to Tehachapi to live with her father. She finished fifth in the state, but not for the school that introduced her to the event.

``It really (stunk) last year when I showed up to practice and found out she had moved,'' Haefliger said. ``As a coach, you don't get an athlete like this very often. It's been really nice to get her back.''

Haefliger wasn't planning to return as throws coach because he didn't think enough athletes at the school were taking it seriously. When he found out Giuffre was returning, he rededicated himself.

``It's great to get my old coach back,'' Giuffre said. ``He knows how I throw because he taught me. The coach last year didn't really know me. It's like old times now, except I can throw a lot farther.''

Matthew Kredell, (818)713-3607

matthew.kredell(at)dailynews.com

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Photo:

Thousand Oaks' Margaret Giuffre is a favorite to compete for the state title in the discus.

Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 4, 2005
Words:687
Previous Article:GOOD TASTES.
Next Article:DAY IN SPORTS: C.V. REGAINS TOP FORM.


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