Becker qualifies in 4 girls events

Special to the Mercury News

It's easy to assume sibling influence turned Mt. Pleasant High sophomore Galina Becker into an outstanding track and field athlete.

Not so, Becker said.

``She never helped me,'' said Becker, whose sister Undine competes for Stanford. ``She told me, `I did it on my own, you do it on your own.' ''

Galina did indeed. At the Central Coast Section semifinals at San Jose City College on Saturday, Becker qualified for Friday's championship meet in four events and will attempt to better her sister's three-title performance of 2001.

Though her triple jump (40 feet, 1 inch) and long jump (19-6) were wind-aided, they were impressive nonetheless. Each would have been among the top five marks in the state and top 10 in CCS history. She also qualified in the 100 meters (12.45 seconds, fourth fastest in the field) and 100 hurdles (15.13, third fastest).

``She's got the natural talent,'' said Undine, who competed in most of the same events while starring at Mt. Pleasant. ``All she needed was a little coaching to improve her technique. But if she wants to break my records, she'll have to do it on her own.''

Before she can claim any records, Aptos pole vaulter Kirsten Loftin may beat her to it. Loftin holds the CCS record of 12-2, but that was accomplished without the special carbon pole she plans to use Friday. Loftin stuck with fiberglass Saturday while failing in three tries at a meet-record 12-1, and she settled for 11-6, which tied for the best mark of the day.

While Mt. Pleasant aims for a third team title in four years, Valley Christian, seeking its first, is expected to make it a two-team fight.

Ashley Monfort ran the fastest 400 (56.64) and the second-best 200 (25.02), and Warriors teammate Amanda Thornberry, the state leader in the 1,600, ran the day's fastest time (4:52.32) in that event.

Thornberry will double in the 800, where she will take on Silver Creek's Cherie McPherson, who qualified first in a personal-record 2:12.83, the seventh-best time in the state. Teammate Kelecki Anyanwu rearranged the state list, too, shattering her personal record in the shot put by three feet with a 43-2, eighth best in the state.

Results in Scoreboard, Page 15C.
Absences hurt Bellarmine

Mercury News

The Central Coast Section boys qualifying track meet might be remembered more for the athletes who decided not to participate than for those who did.

Bellarmine College Prep's graduation ceremonies conflicted with the start of the meet Saturday at San Jose City College, so the Bells' top-ranked 400-meter relay team scratched with their coach's approval to attend ceremonies.

But sprint coaches Dan Burke and Tony Swanson didn't find out until 12:20 p.m. that Jarred Belser, ranked No. 1 in the CCS and sixth in the state in the 100 meters, and teammate Shannon Sevor, a top-ranked 200- and 400-meter runner, chose to skip their individual qualifying events to attend family functions after the ceremonies.

Bellarmine, which was considered a lock to win its fourth consecutive CCS team title next week, will have a tough time repeating.

``We're disappointed because we wanted to win a team championship and those points would have helped,'' Burke said. ``It's just unfortunate that the meet and graduation were at the same time.''

Belser, who will attend Nevada on a football scholarship, said when reached at home Saturday night: ``I wanted to graduate more than run in that race. I'm more of a football player than a track athlete.''

Monterey's Nick Cunningham and Valley Christian's Chris Johnson are now the favorites in the 100 meters for Friday's championship at SJCC. Both qualified in separate heats with times of 10.90 seconds.

There were several standout performances, including Prospect high jumper Fermen Smith, who set a personal- and CCS season best with a leap of 6 feet, 8 inches, brushing the cross bar as he cleared the height on his first attempt.

Palo Alto's Tolu Wusu experimented with his jumping foot, deciding to launch off his right foot in the triple jump and reaching a personal best mark of 46-5.

Los Gatos' Nik Kay, the state's leading discus thrower, continues to show dramatic improvement in the shot put -- where he led qualifiers with a throw of 56-4 1/4. He also won the discus (178 feet).

Mt. Pleasant pole vaulter Minh Tran, who suffered two badly chipped front teeth when the cross bar fell on him during practice two weeks ago, cleared 14-6 to lead qualifiers.

Results in Scoreboard, Page 15C.