Thu, Jun 16 2011 02:17 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Wet surfaces and intermittent light rain greeted participants in last Saturday’s 93rd California State Track and Field championship meet at Buchanan High School in Clovis. There’s no question that the inclement weather affected performances, but Otay Ranch senior Marques Roberts managed to battle through the adverse conditions to secure a coveted gold medal — only one of two collected by San Diego Section athletes at this year’s meet.
It made a bold statement for Otay Ranch, and the entire South Bay as well.
“Our school has never won a state title in any sport until now,” said Roberts, who joined the exclusive 50-foot club earlier this season with a jump of 50-even at the San Diego Section prelim meet. “Our school has won several section championships in the past in different sports, and our boys volleyball team made it to the state finals this year and finished second. I just wanted to come out here and represent my school and finish on a winning note. I wanted the gold medal and all of my hard work paid off.”
Roberts won the section triple jump title with a mark of 49-7.5 and advanced to Saturday’s state finals following a top state prelims mark of 49-5.75.
However, the Mustang jumper found himself in second place behind upstart Dublin senior Jeremiah Crockett heading into his final of six jumps amid damp surroundings — conditions that were altogether new to him.
Roberts fouled on one of his previous five jumps, carrying a 48-9 mark into his final attempt. Crockett also had a foul but surpassed Roberts’ then leading mark on his fifth attempt, jumping 49-1.75.
“He clapped his hands and jumped up and down and I took that to mean he surpassed me,” Roberts said in regard to Crockett’s go-ahead jump.
With the pressure on, the Otay Ranch jumper suddenly turned as cool as the surroundings.
“I knew I had one jump left and it was go over 49-1.75 or you don’t win the state championship,” Roberts said. “But I felt confident. I had been jumping in the 49-foot range pretty much all season. I had gotten real consistent at it.”
Still, Roberts had to perform — and that wasn’t exactly easy given it was his first time jumping in the rain.
“I was watching the other jumpers slip and that got me worried at first,” he said. “I slipped on one of my early jumps, and then because of the weather, my legs started to feel tight. But I had to put all that out of my mind. I knew I could go farther.”
Roberts won in dramatic fashion with a final jump of 49-6.5.
It had the estimated 6,000 fans in the stands clapping.
Roberts knew he had won the instant he landed. “I knew it was 49-mid or 49-high — I knew it wasn’t 50 — but I thought it was good enough to win it,” he said.
His only disappointment was that the weather prevented him from reaching an even more magical mark: 51 feet.
“Competing in the rain was something new to me — it kind of hurt my technique,” he said. “But it was a great meet. I just wish it could have not been in the rain. I think all the lower marks had to do with the weather.”
Roberts starting jumping midway through his sophomore year. His best that first season was 44-6. He improved that to 48-1.5 by his junior year.
Roberts has already set higher marks to achieve, and they could come soon.
He is hoping to one day attend the University of Arizona but will likely go the community college route this coming fall, either in the San Diego region or in Arizona. Before that, however, he would like to compete in several high-level events this summer as an unattached athlete, participate in the State Games of America (in San Diego in August) and also possibly qualifying for the AAU Junior Olympics.
“I think if I give myself two-and-a-half weeks off and rest that I can go 51 feet,” he said. “I already know I can go 50 and I’ve scratched on several jumps that I think have been between 50 and 51. I know it’s just a matter of time before I get it.”
Roberts was one of five Metro Conference state meet event qualifiers and four state meet event participants this year. Otay Ranch sophomore Carina Gillespie qualified to compete in the girls 800-meter run for the second consecutive year while Mater Dei Catholic sophomore Alexandria Young qualified to compete in the girls triple jump. Olympian also showcased its first-ever state qualifying unit in the girls 4x400 relay event.
All set school records in last Friday’s state prelims.
Gillespie timed 2:13.22 to place seventh in her prelim heat. While not fast enough to qualify for the state finals, the time was 0.20 seconds faster than the 2:13.44 she ran the previous week to win the section title.
The Mustang distance runner was boxed in early and failed to seize the opportunity to break out on the last lap despite clocking the school record time.
“She’s not very happy but when you put it in perspective, she had a great season,” ORHS coach Ian Cumming said. “I’m sure this will be more motivation for the future.”
Young narrowly missed advancing to Saturday’s state finals with a new school record jump of 38-8.5 — well beyond the 38-1.5 she posted in winning the Division II title at the section finals. She tied for ninth place in the state prelim field but lost out on jumps to Clovis North junior Sharessa Archie, who advanced to the finals.
Young said she wasn’t used to the configuration of the boards at Buchanan High School.
“I really exploded on my first jump but scratched,” she said. “Gosh, there were girls who were going 39 feet and up. I thought I did great personally but it wasn’t enough.”
The Olympian mile relay team can finish the season on a satisfying note after recording a school record for the third consecutive meet. The Eagles set school records in three consecutive championship-caliber events: the section prelims, section finals and state prelims.
The unit of Rachel Rainey, Charmayne Judkins, Nirelle Davis and Kristina Brown combined to time 3:56.54, bettering the 3:58.91 third-place showing at the section finals. The Eagles clocked 4:00.66 at the section prelims.
“I was very impressed by our team and by the other teams here,” OHS sprint coach Mike Hulin said.
Eastlake senior Jordan Hines also qualified to compete in the boys triple jump for the second straight year but elected not to compete at this year’s state meet. Hines finished fifth at last year’s state finals and increased his school record in the event to 48-9.5 with a second-place finish (to Roberts) at the section finals.
When Hines scratched, that allowed Steele Canyon’s Thomas Clanton (the fourth-place finisher at the section finals) to advance to the state meet.
State honor roll
Carlsbad junior Breana Jemison was the section’s other state gold medalist this year after winning the girls shot put with a mark of 43-1.25. She was one of three section medalists in the event, joining Westview senior Nneka Anyanwu (second, 43-1.25) and El Camino junior Jakayla Daniels (sixth, 40-8.5).
Overall, the San Diego Section finished with two gold medals, five silver medals and four bronze medals — and an impressive list of 29 medalists overall.
West Hills senior Alexa Evans recorded the best showing among the sizable contingent of East County state qualifiers with a second-place finish in the girls discus throw (149-3). Other second-place finishers included Torrey Pines senior Alli Billmeyer (4:41.71) in the girls 1,600 run, Rancho Bernardo senior Molly Grabill (10:19.17) in the girls 3,200 run and Clairemont junior McKenzie Johnson (12-4) in the girls pole vault.
Billmeyer’s 1,600 time was a new section record.
Bronze medals were collected by Serra senior Deante Kemper (6-7) in the boys high jump, Scripps Ranch senior Jacob Hare (14.47) in the boys 110 high hurdles, Canyon Crest Academy junior Charlotte Kuzminsky (2:09.11) in the girls 800 run and Scripps Ranch senior Shyan Vaziuri (1:50.21) in the boys 800 run.
Billmeyer, Rancho Bernardo senior Jared Pickering, El Camino junior Jasmine Gibbs and Mt. Miguel senior Walfrido Rodriguez all finished with two state medals.
Billmeyer (10:22.56) was fourth in the girls 3,200 run while Pickering earned fourth-place medals in the boys 100 dash (10.72) and 200 dash (21.61). Rodriguez finished fourth in the boys 400-meter dash in 47.89 and also ran the anchor leg on the Matadors’ 4x400 relay team (a school record 3:16.60).
Gibbs also was fifth in both the girls 100 dash (12.08) and long jump (18-2.25).
Of note, nine runners in the boys 3,200 run all finished under the nine-minute mark.
For complete results, visit the Web site at www.cifstate.org.
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