Only reason it's hard in the beginning is because 1st gear drops faster than any other gear due to the fact that it's so short.
best mag time I've ever seen was the 2001 issue of sport compact magazine. they ran a 14.9 stock. My own personal best 100% stock was 14.7. a member of the "other" celica site also ran a verified 14.7.
I think a good driver should have no problems running 14.9 on a stock celica.
also landing lift IS very possible to land in on the 1-2. It's not only how fast you shift but how well timed your shift is. I shift kinda on the slow side but I never have a problem landing lift. www.ksbservices.com/vids
there should be a few vids of it in there with my racing vids
good luck and keep practicing.