1974: Girls Get Their Turn at the State Meet

First Girls Champions: Team

Coach Willie White's Berkeley High girls won the first team championship, scoring 13 points in the 5-3-1 scoring format. It would be the first of five girls state team titles for White at Berkeley, second all-time in CIF history to the 14 collected during Don Norford's unparalleled run at Long Beach Poly.

Berkeley was led by Marie Nickson and White's daughter Sharon, who both participated in winning -- and record-setting -- relay teams.

The  440 relay team of White, Annette Robinson, Nickson and Terri Knight won in 47.5. Berkeley's 880-yard medley quartet of Robinson, White, Shirley Parker and Nickson posted a blazing 1:46.4.

Nickson also placed second in the 220-yard dash (25.1) and those three points, coupled with the 10 from both winning relays, made Berkeley the CIF's first girls track and field team champion.

First Girls Champions: Individuals

Janice Wiser, a senior at La Jolla (SD), was the meet's only double champion, winning the 100-yard dash in 10.8 seconds and the 220 in 24.2. That 10 points put La Jolla second in the final team standings.

Kathy Costello, a junior at Pleasant Hill (NC), won the initial 880-yard race in 2:10.4. She came back the following year to defend her two-lap title and she also won the mile.

Jodi Anderson, a sophomore at Washington (LA) won the first of three consecutive long titles, jumping 19-7. Washington placed third in the team standings with nine points. In addition to Anderson's five points, Washington also picked up three points for a runner-up finish in the 880mMR (Linda Sipert, Sheryl Ford, Katherine Price, Anderson) 1:47.4, and one point for a third-place finish in the 440y relay (Price, Lynn Jones, Ford, Sipert) 48.8.

Other individual winners in 1974:
  • Mile: Jill Caldwell,  Westminster (SS) - 5:02.2
  • 440: Veronica Venezie, Terra Linda High (NC) - 56.4
  • 80-low hurdles: Yvonne Boone, Fremont (OK) - 11.1
  • High jump: Pam Blackburn, the former Cubberley HS in Palo Alto (CC) - 5-8
  • Shot put: Kathy Devine, Mission Bay (SD) - 47-4.50.


  • Boone and Devine came back to win their events again in 1975. 
  • Anderson, in addition to winning two additional CIF long jump titles, also won the 440y dash in 1975. She is the first of 13 girls to have won four individual events at the State Championships and the first of 25 to have won at least four. 

National Record Haul

Not only did every champion make history, but the girls at the 1974 meet established seven 'National Division for Girls and Women's Sports' records:

  • Anderson in the long jump (breaking the previous standard from 1970 by 11.5 inches)
  • Berkeley's 440 relay (by 0.3 faster than a mark that had stood since 1966)
  • Berkeley's 880 medley relay (1.9 faster than the previous mark set in 1966)
  • Blackburn in the high jump (by an inch beyond the 1972 standard)
  • Caldwell in the mile (3.8 seconds faster than the mark that had stood since 1972)
  • Costello in the 880 (6.2 seconds faster than a mark that had stood since 1972)
  • Venezia in the 440 (0.2 faster than the previous national best from 1971)

In the 880, two others also went under the national record: Joyce Anderson (Morningside/SS) 2:12.8, and Alice Trumbly (Coalinga/CS) 2:13.7. Trumbly, a sophomore in '74, won the two-lap title in '76.

The top three also all surpassed the previous national record in the 880 medley relay of 1:48.3 with Washington (LA) going 1:47.4 and Royal (SS) crossing in 1:47.7.

History in the Shadows

While the Bakersfield Californian, the newspaper in the host city, did preview the historic nature of the event, despite this being an historic first state championship for girls and despite seven national records, focused coverage of the event by all indications was on the boys. 

It certainly didn't help the ladies that distance runner Rich Kimball of De La Salle (NC) put up a 4:06.6-8:46.5 double that stole headlines.

"Honestly, the girls were lost in the Rich Kimball incredible double," Harkness recalled, "and the other well known stars, names on the boys side. Most spectators outside of some local areas were not familiar with most of the girls who were in the meet. There were a few exceptions of course."

Record-setting triple jumper Willie Banks from Oceanside High in San Diego, participated in both the triple and long jump event finals on that Saturday night, June 1, 1974. Banks, laser-focused on defending his state triple jump title, said he didn't recall girls in the meet.

"Were girls there in 1974?" Banks told MileSplit correspondent Steve Brand. "I don't really recall any girls being there. They weren't in the triple jump and winning the state triple jump was very important to me, so I was focused."

Banks, of course, defended his title and had the first 50-foot jump in meet history.

The 52-page meet program that was detailed with everything from past history to entry lists to a sizable photo of the seven "State Meet Hostesses" also had a 14-paragraph preview of the competition. Here's the last paragraph from that preview:

"The girls have joined the boys on the program this year and their events will be interspersed with the boys Saturday night. Each girl competing will be a champion, having to win her sectional meet in order to qualify for the state finals."

The Los Angeles Times report on the meet gave the first girls competition two paragraphs total in 79 words at the end of the article on an inside page.

A lack of historic recognition does not undo the significance of it.

Inclusion of girls at state-level championships across the United States began with Iowa in 1962 and by the end of the 1973 outdoor season, 30 states included girls in their championships. California was one of seven (Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah) launching in 1974. By 1977 with Delaware, girls took the line at state meets across all 50 states.

"By the 1976 meet at Berkeley, things were much different," Harkness wrote.