"Just win, baby."
For San Juan High School's Tara Laws, it's more than a quote taken from NFL renegade owner Al Davis. It's the driving force for her distance running this season.And that's just what she did Friday at the 1A-2A segment of the 1989 BYU-First Security Bank High School Track Invitational.
You see, the 18-year-old Laws, who just recently signed to run at BYU next year, sets her goals according to wins, not records. She has plenty of those already.
The 2A state record holder in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs won those events Friday, improving her best in the later with a time of 11:31.76 in the morning, followed by first-place finishes in the other two in the afternoon. And she capped it all off with an anchor performance in the girls' medley relay for a fourth first place - that's all you can win - they don't let you compete in more than four events.
When she took the baton in the medley, she was in seventh place and more than a half-turn behind the leaders. By the time she finished her 800-meter leg, she had posted a 40-yard lead for herself and the winning Bronco relay squad - thanks in part to a 63-second first-400 lap. Then came a much-deserved collapse on the blue track.
Laws and Co. led San Juan to the girls' team title with 59 total points. The real battle was for second, third and fourth places - North Sevier, 45; Malad of Idaho, 44.5; and defending champion Hurricane, 43.
In the boys' category, Malad outdistanced Hurricane by a 75-64 margin. Wasatch, Emery County and Delta rounded out the top five with 47, 44 and 41 points, respectively.
While Laws was setting the standard in the girls' distances, Jimmy Ray, her teammate on the San Juan boys' squad was cleaning up in the sprints - the 100 and 200.
Not bad for somebody who didn't perform well as a still-maturing sophomore and who sat out last year with a broken ankle. And not bad for somebody who was only going to run track this year as part of his weight conditioning as a recent Utah State football recruit.
"I like it more this year," said Ray, who readily admits the reason. " `Cause I'm winning."
In addition to his 11.31-second time in the 100, his 22.77 performance in the 200 allowed him to avenge his only sprint loss of the season to Hurricane's James Telaroli, who finished second.
Ray has some potential 2A state records of his own - 22.29 in the 200 and 10.86 in the 100 - that are being petitioned on hand-held times after logging them at Wednesday's Region 9 meet in Tooele.
Another double-sprint-winner was Malad's Elizabeth Ward, who won both the girls' 100 and 200 dashes. Her time of 25.90 would have given the Idaho runner a Utah state record.
A name heard often during the meet was that of Gubler of Hurricane. That's the sister-brother tandem of senior Kim and junior Matt. Kim ran the 100 (third), 200 (second) and 400 relay (fourth) and has competed at times in the hurdles events and the 400. Meanwhile, Matt appeared in the 400 (disqualified for a false start), 800 (second), 1,600 (second), and 3,200 (sixth).
That's almost a Gubler in every event. "Not all the field events, but at the running events," admits Matt.
With Laws and Ray and other big-name senior-class competitors finishing their prep careers, a number of underclassmen turned in performances that not only promised potential but also commanded respect right now.
Perhaps the brightest young star was Richfield's Tauyna Daniels, a sophomore who broke the 2A state record twice in the 400 - once in the morning qualifiyings and later in the afternoon finals with a time of 59.15. That came just after she ran anchor on Richfield's winning 400 relay in the day's previous event.
The invitational offers multi-event competitions, with Alta's Chad Knowles leading the decathlon after Friday's first five events. Knowles, the runner-up in last year's decathlon, is better than halfway to his goal of 7,000 total points with a first-day 3,655. His closest rivals are Roy's Billy Shuffenhaur and Viewmont's Ben Higbee with 3,524 and 3,515 points, respectively.
In the girls' heptathlon, Jamie Bowns of Evanston's Mtn. View leads with 2,756 points - more than 300 points better than Clearfield's Kris Bates. Wasatch's Diana Besendorfer is third, Timpview's Keena Hooker fourth, and 1988 heptathlon winner Julie Trane of American Fork fifth.
Other records of note - Delta's Laurel Simmons - a double-field-event-winner - set a meet record in the shot put with a throw of 38 feet. Also, North Sevier's second place time of 4:30.03 in the girls' medley relay was good for a 1A state mark.
The 3A-4A portion of the invitational takes place today with field events starting at 8:30 a.m. and finals in the running events at 1:30 p.m.
Teams favored in boys competition include Viewmont, which won both the Weber and Davis invitationals, Orem, Davis, Timpview, Alta and Mountain View. In the girls competition Weber, Layton, Ben Lomond and Mountain View are among the favorites.
Also the decathlon for boys and heptathlon for girls concludes today. The boys will compete in the 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meters. The girls will compete in the long jump, javelin and 800 meters.