By Leonard COUTIN
The Falcons experienced one of the highest levels of track and field competition at the 56th annual Mt. SAC Relays this past weekend at the Hilmer Lodge Stadium. Hosting some of the best high school athletes, college sensations and prestigious world-class athletes from around the country over the three-day period, the event concluded with the setting of several world records, national records and school records as well as personal best performances.
CVHS head coach Mark Evans’ athletes came well prepared to run, jump and shot put. Starting early Friday afternoon, sophomore Alisa Shinn competed in the girls’ shot put event, placing seventh (32-5).
“It’s a valuable lesson to witness and participate in this kind of competition,” said Evans. “[Shinn] got a chance to throw against some girls who are very good and who she has not seen before. This is an opportunity to get the confidence so that she is able to compete with anyone.”
The boys 4 x 800 team of Nick Beatty, Kyle Dickinson, Matt Manalo and Gabe Collison ran mid evening and faced a major challenge exchanging their baton due to many runners coming in at the same time. The team placed eighth with a time of 8:04.64; Great Oaks won with a time of 7:42.81.
Falcon Emmy Walker was well prepared on Saturday morning as she entered the girl’s seed high jump. She cleared each height on her first attempt; she finalized her jump at 5-4, taking the win with fewer attempts than two other jumpers, Ventura’s Candice Dominguez-Field and Los Alamitos’ Allison Parsons.
“Emmy had a great meet. She is becoming more consistent,” said Coach Evans.
Kayleigh Carrillo, who continues to support the Falcons’ team by participating in four events weekly, ran two individual races: the 200m and 400m along with the anchor leg of the 4 x 400m relay.
“Kayleigh is running well. It is important for her to be in the big competitions against other fast people,” Evans said. Her 200m time of 25.34 placed seventh and the 400m time of 58.25 placed her sixth.
The Falcons relay team of Beatty, Manalo, Kyler Chin and Christ Ordookhanian ran the seeded 4 x 400m relay and medaled in fifth (3:33.74). Manalo found himself turning around and jumping backwards for the exchange.
“I could not believe how I turned in circles,” he said.
The girls 4 x 400 team of Megan Melnyk, Courtney Iannello, Emmy Walker and anchor Kayleigh Carrillo medaled fourth (3:56.97). Carrillo closed on her anchor leg against the Elk Grove team.
Senior Collison proved a great asset to his younger sophomore team of Armin Cardenas-Nuno, Robert McNelis and anchor Dickinson in the open 4 x 1600m distance relay. Collison got off to a quick start commanding the lead and giving his team a 20-second lead. As each of the runners passed off the baton, they worked hard to maintain their lead, but were chased hard by Murrieta Mesa. As they approached the anchor leg, Dickinson took the baton with the opposing team nearby. Murrieta passed Dickinson after the first 100m, but Dickinson stayed within striking distance. Coming to the third curve, he made his move and flew by his opponent; but Murrieta would not give up.
Chasing Dickinson all the way to the finish, Dickinson held his charge and the team medaled first (18:22.94).
Coach Evans was pleased with his runners.
“The distance relays competed very well. It was a great experience for the boys in the 4 x 1600. Gabe did put them in a position in which they could compete with a group. They all kept us in a position to win,” Evans said.
The girls’ 4 x 1600m was the last event for the CV runners. Rival Arcadia Apache team of Madison Ross, Holy Lung, Meghan Kamae and anchor Roni Yamane proved to be a major opponent for the Falcons’ team of Erika Johnson, Haley Witzeman, Rebecca Mencia and Melnyk. Johnson, Witzeman and Mencia ran their legs strongly to give anchor Melnyk a slight lead over the Apaches. Witzeman ran a personal best time, as did teammate Mencia who handed the baton off to Melnyk.
The battle for second place proved to be an exciting one as Melnyk received the baton while Apache star anchor Yamane upped her pace to eventually catch Melnyk on the backside of the track. Yamane passed Melnyk with 300 meters to go. But Melnyk was far from done and continued to stay close, putting her final sprint with 200 meters left, passing the Apache. Yamane tried to recover but Melnyk’s final sprint was too strong and CV took second place (21.23.46) with the Arcadia team placing third (21:25.59).