By Leonard COUTIN
The 98th CIF State High School Track and Field Championships were held last weekend at the Buchanan High School Veterans’ Memorial Stadium in Clovis. All 10 of the CIF sections, representing more than 585 schools making up almost 90 leagues, were represented at the highest level of high school competition. The championships wowed spectators where they witnessed three national records and one state record set. Kaelin Roberts of Carson set her national record running the 400m in 52.28. The Carson girls 4×100 relay ran a time of 45.06 for a new national record. Rhesa Foster of Clovis set her national record in the long jump, hitting the 20-07.50 mark.
As the temperatures approached scorching levels, the CIF committee rescheduled events to later in the day to avoid the heat. On Friday, all athletes except for those participating in the 3200m events had to qualify for the finals taking place on Saturday late afternoon. Undoubtedly the added stress on the athletes was unnerving as most of the qualifiers still had to perform well enough to pass the prelims.
The Pacific League finalist from Burroughs, Sarah Prystupa, cleared 12-0 in her last vault to place seventh with six others who cleared the same height. Prystupa looked strong on Saturday coming into the finals, but had some problems making the necessary adjustments to accommodate the setting of the bar at the higher height. Prystupa did vault a 12-2 mark and took seventh amid strong competition. Rachel Baxter of Canyon/Anaheim won the event (14-02). Erika Malaspina of Pacific Collegiate (Central Coast) tied for second with Mater Dei’s vaulter McKenna Caskey (13-8).
St. Francis senior Jasher Foster posted strong marks running two events, the 110HH and the 300IH, in the CIF state prelims. His 110HH time was 14.3, which earned him a ranking of fourth in the competition and his time of 37.6 in the 300IH ranked Foster sixth going into the finals. Unfortunately, he was not able to recapture his earlier marks and ran 14.46 in the 110HH finals to place seventh. Joseph Anderson, a junior from Upland, won the event (13.59). Foster ran sixth in the finals with a time of 37.62. La Quinta won in a time of 36.61. Central Section Buchanan star hurdler Paramveer Chohan claimed second running 37.19.
La Cañada’s Katie Scoville and Flintridge Prep ace runner Jack Van Scoter were fortunate that their events, the 3200m, did not have qualify marks in the Friday prelims because their times at the masters automatically qualified them for the state finals.
Tension was high as the athletes set up on the starting line for the 3200m. The top two runners, Amanda Gehrich of Tesoro and Destiny Collins of Great Oaks, had already claimed strong wins in the 1600m race and were eager to make their marks with a double win. Collins started strong and took the lead of the pack followed by rival Gehrich. Scoville hung back in the third pack running relaxed, but possibly too far back, and did not make the necessary contact with the top 10 leaders. Coming through the first mile, the leaders were Collins, Gehrich, Nicki Tyler of Harker (Central Coast), Fiona O’Keeffe of Davis (Sac-Joaquin Section) and Jennifer Sandoval of Summit (Southern Section). When Collins started to ease off the pace it was anyone’s guess which runner might take control next.
Morgan Coonfield of McKinleyville (North Coast Section) came up to claim her place in the pack. Gehrich looked tired after completing her sixth lap, but still continued to fight for her position. At the last lap it was O’Keeffe who took the lead position followed by Collins who made every attempt to close the gap between them but was unsuccessful. O’Keeffe won with a time of 10:12.02, followed by Collins (10:23.79), Iyer (10:24.39), Coonfield (10:24.90), Sandoval (10.26.06) and Gehrich (10:30.42).
Collins commented that “the heat took a toll on me.”
The second to last race of the night was the boys 3200m. High expectations were on Jack Van Scoter who took second at the masters behind San Luis Obispo’s Callum Bolger. Having posted the best two times in the ranking order, they were rated to do well.
When the gun went off, Van Scoter, Bolger, Cole Spencer of Great Oak and Mason Coppi of Dana Hills, all from the Southern Section, grouped together to force a faster pace. Van Scoter continued to move forwad and back in the pack but stayed on mark and kept his cool. Coming into the last lap, Van Scoter knew that he needed an edge over the others and pushed hard. But unbelievably five of the runners began a sprint to the finish line, all seemingly arriving at once, bringing the crowd to its feet.
“It was certainly a surprise,” Van Scoter said afterward. “I wanted to make my move early but who would guess they would all follow?”
Cooper Teare of St. Joseph-Nd/nc (Northern Coast Section) won with a time of 8:51.85, followed by Spencer (8:51.85), Bolger (8:53.24), Michael Vernau of Davis (8:54.58) and Van Scoter (8:55.60).
In the 4×400 relay, the girls’ team from Carson (Los Angeles City Section) won the relay in a time of 3:42.80 beating Calabasas (Southern Section) (3:43.27).
It was tense for the boys’ 4 x400 relay when top-rated Vista Murrieta fell behind Cathedral and Chaminade and Dorsey (Los Angeles City Section) at the last hand off. Coming into the last leg Vista Murrieta was in fifth place and almost dropped the baton before the handoff from the second to third man. But anchor sensation Michael Norman, who had already won the open 400m in 45.77, made up the difference at the 300m mark. He ended up grabbing another 15 meters ahead of his competitors to finish his leg in a time of 44.9 for his 400m run earning Vista Murrieta the win (3:14.97). Cathedral followed (3:16.75), followed by Chaminade (3:18.06) then Dorsey (3:18.19). Norman completed his senior year with many outstanding running marks including four impressive wins in the CIF state finals: running a leg of the 4 x 100 relay (40.32), 4 x 400, open 200 (20.42) and anchor leg of the 4 x 400 relay. He might be considered as a future Olympic contender for the USA team.