Falcons Collison, Melnyk, Walker and girls 4 x 400 relay team head to CIF finals.
By Leonard COUTIN
The Division 1 CIF track and field prelims were held at Trabuco Hills High School on May 17, the last stop before the CIF finals at Cerritos College this Saturday. Athletes came onto the field at 11 a.m. happy that light winds blew away the smoke from nearby fires, but still having to battle in temperatures in the 90s.
Falcon Emmie Walker, who attended prelims last year, brought with her the poise, confidence, and determination of a seasoned athlete. Her starting height was 5-0; by her third attempt she had cleared 5-4, eliminating half her competition. But it was the 5-6 she was aiming for.
Walker’s next take off was near perfect; she leapt into the air with her back arched flawlessly, driving her feet upward, clearing the height with ease. Knowing that she had achieved her personal best jump – and qualified for finals – she ran out of the pit area to her coach Jason Perez who “high-fived” her.
“Emmie is jumping very well and has been going after 5-6 for a long time,” said Head Coach Mark Evans. “It is coming together at the right time.” Walker was rated second overall.
CV’s Megan Melnyk ran her first race of the day, the 1600m, in the early afternoon. She struggled into the second half to stay with the pack leaders, running 5:13.20 and placing 15th. Unfortunately she needed to be among the top nine. Great Oak produced three of the best miler times that afternoon, Destiny Collins (4:52.62), Haley Dorris (4:57.38) and Ashley Helbig (5:01.01). Roni Yamane of Arcadia placed second in her heat qualifying as one of the top nine (5:02.71).
Melynk returned to the field hours later for the 800m, securing a place among the top runners. She also performed well in the 400m, running 2:15.55 to win her heat and qualify for Cerritos with the sixth best time of the day.
Etiwanda’s Jacquelyn Hill had the fastest time of the day running 2:10.70.
Runners in the 3200m wait either all day or all night until the last individual event is called before the closing 4 x 400 relay – the contest for which Falcon senior Gabe Collison was most prepared. Collison witnessed the success of his older sister Claire as a runner – she captured state championships both in cross-country and track – and he was a major contributor to Crescenta Valley’s cross country and track programs. As captain this year, he motivated not only his fellow teammates but also competitors from other schools with his soft-spoken appeal and quiet determination. Despite Saturday’s heat, Collison set a new career record of 9:13.87, beating his pr of 9:18.
“I planned to tuck in behind [Arcadia’s] Estevan De La Rosa and I wasn’t sure what would happen in the end – he is obviously fast,” Collison said of his strategy at Trabuco. “When he dropped out, I was shocked for half a second but then I relaxed. Once I was leading, I really didn’t want to lose the lead.”
Coming onto the track for the girls 4 x 400 relay, the Falcons faced the Arcadia Apache champion relay team in their heat. The team of Melnyk, Courtney Iannello, Erika Johnson and anchor leg Kayleigh Carrillo met the challenge, though, and placed second in their heat (3:55.03) and qualified among the nine to move onto finals.
Coach Evans was pleased with his athletes’ success this year – those who qualified for finals as well as those who competed well but didn’t make the cut.
“Josh Ayo hit a 43-1 lifetime best in the triple jump. His previous best was 41-10. That is a huge improvement. Sammie Phinney and Grace Kelly ran very well in the hurdles and were just off their personal bests. Erika Johnson, Nick Beatty, Haley Witzeman and Kayleigh Carrillo in the races in which they did not qualify all ran very well. Alisa Shinn in the shot put had good efforts and gained a lot of experience,” said Evans.
The CIF finals at Cerritos College begin at 11 a.m. with field events and running starts at 1 p.m.