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PRESENT AND FUTURE: Cathedral senior Randall Carroll, center, repeated as state champion in the 100 and 200 meters and helped the Phantoms tie for the boys state title.Â But the 200 race next year could come down to Santee junior (2nd from left, third in 200) and Crenshaw sophomore DeAnthony Thomas (3rd from right, second in 200).
Photo by Robert Helfman
There were plenty of "What If" moments after last week's CIF state track-and-field finals, none bigger than in the first event.What if Los Angeles Cathedral hadn't dropped the baton during their second exchange of the 4 x 100 relay, resulting in an outright state title instead of a 4-way split?With Randoll Carroll as anchor, the Phantoms would've placed in the top six, adding to the 20 points Carroll won in the 100 and 200. Alas, they shared their first state track title with Riverside La Sierra, Clovis East and Bakersfield Frontier...Fresh off winning the 4 x 100 relay at last week's state meet (40.67 seconds - the fastest winning time since 2002), Gardena Serra is already looking to next year and it's a scary thought."We have roughly 98% of our team coming back," Serra boys coach David Washington said after the Masters Meet. Senior Anthony Carpenter may be gone but his relay mates Marcus Johnson, Devin Spann and Robert Woods will have solid company next year. The newcomers include sophomore George Farmar, who showcased his speed during the football season. You could add to that some motivation from a "heavenly" source."We were in Mass one day and looked up at all the school records," junior Robert Woods said after the Southern Section Divisional Finals, "We want them all next year."Fellow junior Devin Spann chimed in, "We want the CIF records too."Consider them motivated to win their first state title since 2000 - and that's not even factoring their 4 x 400 relay team looking to show and prove after being disqualified during their league meet...Crenshaw's youth was served as the state meet but for returning coach David Frierson, it's only the beginning of things to come.Juniors Gregory Ducre and Jonathan Downary and sophomores Dayvon Allen and DeAnthony Thomas placed sixth in the 4 x 100 relay at state and all but Downary finished seventh in the 4 x 400.Thomas finished second in the 200 (a personal best of 21.35) and sixth in the 100. But let Frierson tell it, just being in the state finals was part of the plan he promised them before the season."It's like a fairy tale," he said, "the formula worked right for us."It wasn't easy implementing a new system - one that included college-style workouts at times - but his team bought into it and their trust isn't just paying off this year.All of his young talent will be hungry for next year and Frierson, who coached Crenshaw to the 1982 state title during his first tenure (1978-1996), hopes to take his team to the Texas and Penn Relays in 2010.He's also not afraid to spark up a rivalry with Serra, having already posted a picture of the 4 x 100 medal stand with the phrase "Forgive but don't forget" underneath."We'll be ready for them Frierson said, anticipating another showdown in the season-starting Percy Knox Invitational in 2010...It's not too early too look ahead to next year, especially with plenty on the football horizon. Mark your calendar for September 4 because Lakewood will be coming to Crenshaw for the season's most anticipated game and plenty is riding on it. It's not just because both teams will be among the region's best next year - it's the sequel to last year's thrilling game, where Lakewood scored 28 pts in the second half to defeat Crenshaw.A state berth could be on the line for the Cougars - who return nearly every key player from last year - as well as Lakewood, who return the backfield of tailback Jerry Stone and quarterback Jesse Scroggins...There are plenty of great talents in the football class of 2010, including Hayes Pullard (Crenshaw), Sean Parker (Narbonne) and Robert Woods (Gardena Serra), and they'll have their pick of colleges.Unlike previous years, don't be surprised if most of them don't wind up at USC. They already have commits from D.J. Morgan (Taft) and Trajuan Briggs (Birmingham) but I have a feeling some will be lured by smaller depth charts at excellent programs...As is tradition around here, the Prep Report ends this high school season congratulating the seniors for graduating.Whether or not you continue playing sports in college, cherish the memories of these last four years and continue developing as future leaders.