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The Masters

May 24, 2002|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Sports Editor

Rashauna Amos is fast, damn fast.

At the CIF San Diego Section track and field finals in Poway on May 18, Amos was so fast in the 100-meter dash — 12.11 seconds — she tied the time of a Division I runner from a much-larger school, earning a No. 1 seed in the event.

Now Amos and seven other Imperial Valley high-schoolers are poised to show the San Diego Section the Imperial Valley is more than a blip on the map between the beach and the Colorado River.

On Saturday, individual and team track and field participants from Southwest, Central Union and Brawley Union high schools will return to Poway to compete in the Masters meet, a CIF qualifier for the state high school track championships.


"I'm not very happy with my 100 time. I was going for 11 (seconds)," said Amos. "It tied for first, but I don't want to tie."

She also is seeded No. 3 in the 200 meters at 25.12 seconds, which she said is good time for her.

Of the eight elite Valley athletes to get Masters berths, the most impressive was Amos, a 15-year-old Southwest freshman who had never run organized track until last summer as part of the Imperial Valley Suns.

Back when she still thought form was something to be filled out and blocks were for play, Amos was burning up local tracks.

"I discovered that God gave me the gift to be able to run quick," she said, adding while she came out of the blocks all wrong and her "form was awful" she still came in first.

"It drove me to get trained and be a better runner," Amos said.

Train she did, with Southwest track coach Mike Becker and his assistant coaches, all of whom she credits with her development as a runner and a winner.

Although she ran an 11.94 100 meters at the Yuma Invitationals in March, Amos said her speed didn't consistently increase until a personal epiphany.

During a meet against Holtville High, Amos began to focus on form and trying to beat the clock. She admits that up until then she ran to the level of her competition, that is, if nearby runners were comparatively slower, so was she.

"I said, ‘I'm just going to have to run against the clock if I'm going to get any better.'"

She concedes she's likely the fastest girl in the Valley but knows it's a whole other ballgame when compared to the speed over the hill.

Is she looking to prove something in Poway?

"I've got a lot to prove — to myself," she said. "I don't think I've got anything to prove to anyone else."

Along for the ride Saturday will be four of her Southwest teammates. Amos will run the final leg of a 4x400 relay along with Monica Gamboa, Tasha Ernest and Erica Holmes. The team qualified No. 8, with 4:04.12.

Gamboa also qualified No. 6 in the 400, with a time of 59.29.

Southwest's Jennifer Black is No. 7 in the 100 hurdles (16.41) and No. 5 in the 300 low hurdles (47.15).

After defending her San Diego Section Division II shot put championship at finals last week, Brawley's Cynthia Flores qualified No. 4 at Masters with a toss of 40 feet.

Also qualifying from Brawley was Raul Hernandez (No. 6) in the high jump with a leap of 6 feet.

Tying Hernandez's height but qualifying at No. 5 for fewer attempts was Central's J.D. Gaddis, who is by no means short on confidence going into Saturday.

"I feel I kicked butt this year. It's time to strap it on, put my fist to the ground and tell 'em it's my turn and watch out," the 18-year-old senior said. "I said that at the start of the year and proved it time and again."

Gaddis has set a personal goal of 6 feet 4 inches, a height he thinks could qualify him for a spot at the state track championship at Cerritos Junior College on May 31 and June 1.

Saturday's Masters will place qualifying athletes in the state championship.

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