The stage appears to be set for something potentially grand after last Friday's Metro Conference finals concluded at Otay Ranch High School. Not everything went as it did in the regular season, but that's what makes championship competition what it is -- bold and unpredictable.
And sometimes, simply amazing.
Sweetwater senior Prisma Mendoza had a meet reserved for greatness after performing a rare distance triple by winning the 1,600-meter run, 800 run and 3,200 run. She also ran a leg on the Red Devils' runner-up 4x400 relay team.
Storied names in the SuHi program like Aylin Mejia and Maila Lucht immediately come to mind. Mendoza now shares their company.
“My back is hurting me so much right now,” she grimaced after her four events were finally over.
A by-stander theorized it was likely from all the gold medals she was wearing around her neck
Mendoza smiled, accepting the compliment of the first order.
"I usually only run in two events in a dual meet but this was my senior year and I decided to go all out,” she said. “I PR'd in the mile. I'm actually feeling pretty good about myself right now.”
SuHi distance coach Raul Galindo did not hold back the praise she deserved, calling her performance one of the “best single-day performances” he had seen by a female student-athlete in his 11 years as a coach at Sweetwater.
“If you take away Aylin and Maila for a moment, Prisma is the best distance runner we’ve had,” he said. “She's right up there now with those two.”
For those not familiar with South Bay track, Mejia turned in perhaps one of the most inspired performances by a Sweetwater runner since the days of Gail Devers after winning three individual events (1,600, 800 and 3,200 runs) while also running a leg on the Devils' winning 4x400 relay. The notable moment came in a dual meet against Otay Ranch to give Sweetwater the Mesa League dual title in 2008.
Teammates hoisted Mejia on their shoulders after the meet.
Mejia was a member of last fall’s Southwestern College community college state championship cross country team. Lucht has continued her running career at Minot State in North Dakota.
Mendoza won the 1,600 in 5:19.25, then returned midway through the meet to capture the 800 in 2:24.25. She won the 3,200 in 11:57.90 just prior to competing in the meet-ending 4x400 relay.
The top two finishers in each event, plus those who met a predetermined standard, earned qualifying berths to Saturday’s San Diego Section prelims.
Mendoza said she is going to run the 1,600 for sure at the CIF prelim meet.
“I’m going for the mile (1,600) — it’s something I’ve worked hard on this year,” she said.
The Devils, regular season South Bay League dual meet champions, finished behind Olympian at the league finals, however. The Eagles, paced by a seeming multitude of sprinters with blazing speed, won the team title with 157 points. Sweetwater followed with 137 points. Castle Park finished third with 92 points, followed by fourth place San Ysidro with 37 points, fifth place Montgomery with 27 points, sixth place Mar Vista with 22 points and seventh place Southwest with 15 points.
While Prisma Mendoza earned Female Track Athlete of the Meet honors for the South Bay League, Castle Park’s Jessica Mendoza (shot put and discus throw champion) earned the title as South Bay League's Female Field Athlete of the Meet.
Jessica Mendoza claimed the league shot put title with a mark of 36 feet, 4.75 inches and won the discus throw with a mark of 96-0.
On the boys side, Olympian’s Julian Robinson captured individual league titles in both the 110 high and 300 intermediate hurdles while also running a leg on the Eagles’ victorious 4x400 relay team to earn honors as the South Bay League’s Male Track Athlete of the Meet. Meanwhile, Castle Park’s Chevy King (long jump and triple jump champion) was the easy pick for the South Bay League’s Male Field Athlete of the Meet.
Robinson timed 15.20 to win the 110 highs and 39.81 to win the 300 intermediates, defeating Sweetwater's Alejandro Garcia in both races.
King won the long jump with a jump of 22 feet, 3 inches and captured the triple jump with a combined distance of 41-1.5.
Sweetwater won the team points title at last Friday’s boys league finals to add to its regular season dual meet championship. The Red Devils accumulated 169 points to runner-up Olympian’s 129 points. Castle Park finished in third place with 81 points.
As for more of the amazing aspect of the meet:
Hilltop (girls 4x100) and Chula Vista (girls 4x400) scored upset victories in relay events while Chula Vista’s Jose Serrano prevented Eastlake’s Trent Warren from scoring a distance double with a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the boys 800 run after Warren had held off a late rush by the Spartans’ Jose Sanchez to win the boys 1,600.
“I was in fourth the last 300 meters and I stepped it up,” Serrano said. “It was all or nothing.”
Warren had entered the league finals with the top qualifying time in the 800.
Montgomery’s Manny Quiam-bao recorded the South Bay League’s top prelim qualifying marks in the boys 100, 200 and 400 dashes but did not compete in the 400 at the league finals, instead settling for league titles in the 100 (11.09) and 200 (22.50). The 11.09 time in the 100 dash earned him the unofficial title of the “fastest man in the Metro.”
The “fastest men in the Mesa” include Eastlake’s Chris Fletcher (11.29), Tavarus Green (11.36) and Jalen Mondane (11.40). They finished in that order in the Mesa boys 100 dash.
Mar Vista’s Ernesto Sanchez was another two-event individual winner in the South Bay League boys finals. He won the 1,600 in 4:37.73 and the 800 in 2:02.84.
Ditto for Sweetwater’s Spenser Curtis. He took top individual honors in both the boys high jump (6-0) and boys pole vault (11-0).
Olympian's Nicole Johnson captured a sprint double in winning the South Bay League girls 100 dash (12.87) and 200 dash (26.68).
Otay Ranch’s J’Vion Johnson won two events in the Mesa League boys finals. He cleared 6-4 in the high jump and timed 15.07 in the high hurdles. Johnson also recorded a runner-up finish in the 300 intermediate hurdles to teammate Isaac Mallett (who finished second to Johnson in the highs).
Olympian posted the top Division II CIF prelim qualifying time in the girls 4x400 (4:04.16). Team members included Kristina Brown, Nirelle Davis, Charmayne Judkins and Rachel Rainey.
The simply unexpected also reared its head. Otay Ranch’s Xander Law entered the boys pole vault competition with a conference-leading — and school record — 14-6 mark set during the regular season. However, when the Mustang sophomore failed to clear his opening height of 13-0, this year’s league title went to Eastlake’s Alejandro Lopez after the Titan vaulter successfully cleared the height.
Athletes ‘double up’ in Mesa League track and field finals
Mater Dei Catholic sophomore Alexandria Young has a split personality. “When it’s basketball season, I focus on basketball, and when it’s track season, I focus on track,” she said.
Young entered last Friday’s Mesa League finals as the San Diego Section leader in the girls triple jump. After winning the 2011 league title with a mark of 37 feet, 6 inches, she enters Saturday’s San Diego Section prelim meet at Mt. Carmel High School with the top Division II qualifying mark.
El Camino’s Tamika Smith owns the top Division I qualifying mark at 39-4 and has since jumped past Young into the section lead. But Young’s season-best mark of 37-11.5 continues to rank No. 2 in the section.
The Crusaders hoops and track standout hopes it leads to a berth in the upcoming state championship meet.
“I like the challenge,” she said. “I never thought I would be jumping 37 feet. I didn’t know much about the triple jump as a freshman. But now I know all about it. It would be great to medal at CIF, win CIF and go to state.”
Young, the Mesa League hoops Player of the Year for league champion Mater Dei Catholic, cleared 5-0 in the high jump to win that event as well at last Friday’s league finals. She also ran a leg on the Crusaders’ runner-up 4x100 relay team.
The two individual titles earned her recognition as the Mesa League Female Field Athlete of the Meet.
She had company, as MDC teammate Cardedra Evans shared Mesa League Female Track Athlete of the Meet honors with Otay Ranch sophomore Carina Gillespie.
Evans won the 100-meter dash in 12.69 and sped to a first-place finish in the 200 dash in 26.33.
Gillespie, a returning state meet qualifier in the 800, won the 1,600 in 5:09.37 and came back to capture the 800 in 2:19.42.
Otay Ranch swept the team titles in both the Mesa League boys and girls competition at last Friday’s league finals. The Mustangs recorded a 197-156 margin of victory over runner-up Eastlake on the boys side and a 151.5-117.5 margin of victory over Bonita Vista on the girls side.
Eastlake’s Tavarus Green (200 dash champion) was named the Mesa League Male Track Athlete of the Meet while Otay Ranch’s Marques Roberts (long jump and triple jump champion) and Jon Bajet (shot put and discus throw champion) shared the Mesa League Male Field Athlete of the Meet award.
Green won the 200 dash in 23.20 while also running legs on the Titans’ victorious 4x100 relay team. Green also recorded a second place finish (to teammate Chris Fletcher) in the 100 dash.
Roberts won the long jump with a mark of 22-2.5 and the triple jump with a mark of 48-3.5, bettering marks turned in by returning Eastlake state medalist Jordan Hines in both instances. Hines jumped 21-9 in the long jump and 46-7 in the triple jump.
Roberts’ triple jump mark ranks as the top Division I qualifying mark for Saturday’s section prelims.
Bajet, an early season section leader in the boys discus throw, won the shot put with a mark of 49-5 and the discus throw with a mark of 162-5 (a season best). The discus mark ranks as the top Division I qualifying mark for Saturday’s section prelims.
Mesa League honors
Otay Ranch’s Alyssa Chang won the girls 100 low hurdles in 15.62 but was denied a double by Bonita Vista’s Jade Palm, who won the girls 300 hurdles in 46.23. Chang finished second in the 300s in 48.18 after Palm had taken a runner-up finish in the 100s in 15.71.
Chula Vista’s Daeniesha Burrell won the girls 400 dash in 59.14 ahead of Eastlake’s Sarah Garces (59.86), with both runners finishing under one minute.
This year’s Mesa League 3,200 distance king and queen are Otay Ranch junior Steven Martinez (9:33.53) and Mustang sophomore Catie LeDesma (11:30.27)
LeDesma out-distanced Bonita Vista’s ace tandem of Cristina Hernandez (second, 11:35.53) and Sofia Garcia (third, 11:35.53) to repeat as the league champion. Martinez bested Bonita Vista’s Caesar Castillo by six seconds in the boys race. Martinez’s time ranks fourth best among Division I CIF prelim qualifiers.
Bonita Vista’s Jaleisha Freeman repeated as the Mesa League girls shot put champion with a mark of 34-7.
Mater Dei Catholic’s Viviana Gonzalez claimed the girls long jump title with a jump of 15-8.5 to edge Eastlake’s Charmaine Strayhorn (15-6.75).
Metro Conference Track & Field
2011 Parade of Champions
Mesa League Finals
Boys Running Events
4x100 relay: Eastlake (Tavarus Green, Chris Fletcher, Jordan Hines, Jalen Mondane) 43.30
1600 run: Trent Warren (Eastlake) 4:26.26
110 high hurdles: J’Vion Johnson (Otay Ranch) 15.07
400 dash: Darran Hall (Eastlake) 50.78
100 dash: Chris Fletcher (Eastlake) 11.29
800 run: Jose Serrano (Chula Vista) 1:58.46
300 intermediate hurdles: Isaac Mallett (Otay Ranch) 39.44
200 dash: Tavarus Green (Eastlake) 23.20
3200 run: Steven Martinez (Otay Ranch) 9:33.53
4x400 relay: Otay Ranch (Isaac Mallett, Paul Tatoy, Kevin Merlin, Michael Barker) 3:24.59
Boys Field Events
Long jump: Marques Roberts (Otay Ranch) 22-2.5
Triple jump: Marques Roberts (Otay Ranch) 48-3.5
High jump: J’Vion Johnson (Otay Ranch) 6-4
Pole vault: Alejandro Lopez (Eastlake) 13-0
Shot put: Jon Bajet (Otay Ranch) 49-5
Discus throw: Jon Bajet (Otay Ranch) 162-5
Girls Running Events
4x100 relay: Hilltop (Tianna Gillon, Jessica Carrillo, Andrea Carrillo, Ashley Keeline) 49.43
1600 run: Carina Gillespie (Otay Ranch) 5:09.37
100 low hurdles: Alyssa Chang (Otay Ranch) 15.62
400 dash: Daeniesha Burrell (Chula Vista) 59.14
100 dash: Cardedra Evans (Mater Dei Catholic) 12.69
800 run: Carina Gillespie (Otay Ranch) 2:19.42
300 low hurdles: Jade Palm (Bonita Vista) 46.23
200 dash: Cardeda Evans (Mater Dei Catholic) 26.33
3200 run: Catie LeDesma (Otay Ranch) 11:30.27
4x400 relay: Chula Vista (Lynette Sandoval, Cynthia Ruffin, Anessa Wolfblack, Daeniesha Burrell) 4:04.41
Girls Field Events
Long jump: Viviana Gonzalez (Mater Dei Catholic) 15-8.5
Triple jump: Alexandria Young (Mater Dei Catholic) 37-6
High jump: Alexandria Young (Mater Dei Catholic) 5-0
Pole vault: Tiffany Smith (Otay Ranch) 10-6
Shot put: Jaleisha Freeman (Bonita Vista) 34-7.25
Discus throw: Leeza Iuta (Otay Ranch) 102-4
South Bay League Finals
Boys Running Events
4x100 relay: Olympian (Harrison Hulin, Isaiah Gibson, Andrell Snowden, Sagon Penn) 44.30
1600 run: Ernesto Sanchez (Mar Vista) 4:37.73
110 high hurdles: Julian Robinson (Olympian) 15.20
400 dash: James Woods (Olympian) 52.33
100 dash: Emmanuel Quiambao (Montgomery) 11.09
800 run: Ernesto Sanchez (Mar Vista) 2:02.84
300 intermediate hurdles: Julian Robinson (Olympian) 39.81
200 dash: Emmanuel Quiambao (Montgomery) 22.50
3200 run: George Martinez (Sweetwater) 9:54.12
4x400 relay: Olympian (Julian Robinson, James Woods, Isaiah Gibson, Andrew Fukushima) 3:30.96
Boys Field Events
Long jump: Chevy King (Castle Park) 22-3.5
Triple jump: Chevy King (Castle Park) 41-1.5
High jump: Spenser Curtis (Sweetwater) 6-0
Pole vault: Spenser Curtis (Sweetwater) 11-0
Shot put: Paul Sierra (Castle Park) 40-9.5
Discus throw: Manny Salcedo (Castle Park) 127-9
Girls Running Events
4x100 relay: Olympian (names unavailable) 50.35
1600 run: Prisma Mendoza (Sweetwater) 5:19.25
100 low hurdles: Emily O’Bryant (Mar Vista) 16.65
400 dash: Rachael Rainey (Olympian) 59.14
100 dash: Nicole Johnson (Olympian) 12.88
800 run: Prisma Mendoza (Sweetwater) 2:24.25
300 low hurdles: Charmayne Judkins (Olympian) 48.07
200 dash: Nicole Johnson (Olympian) 26.68
3200 run: Prisma Mendoza (Sweetwater) 11:57.90
4x400 relay: Olympian (Kristina Brown, Nirelle Davis, Charmayne Judkins, Rachel Rainey) 4:04.16
Girls Field Events
Long jump: Maria Garcia (Sweetwater) 15-5.5
Triple jump: Keeshawna Jackson (Castle Park) 31-7
High jump: Kristina Brown (Olympian) 5-2
Pole vault: Xiomara Mascorro (Sweetwater) 8-6
Shot put: Jessica Mendoza (Castle Park) 36-4.75
Discus throw: Jessica Mendoza (Castle Park) 96-0
Boys: 1. Otay Ranch 197, 2. Eastlake 156, 3. Bonita Vista 69, 4. Chula Vista 49, 5. Mater Dei Catholic 16, 6. Hilltop 5
Girls: 1. Otay Ranch 151.5, 2. Bonita Vista 117.5, 3. Eastlake 73, 4. Mater Dei Catholic 65, 5. Chula Vista 51, 6. Hilltop 34
South Bay League
Boys: 1. Sweetwater 169, 2. Olympian 129, 3. Castle Park 81, 4. Mar Vista 39, 5. Montgomery 32, 6. Southwest 21, 7. San Ysidro 20
Girls: 1. Olympian 157, 2. Sweetwater 137, 3. Castle Park 92, 4. San Ysidro 37, 5. Montgomery 27, 6. Mar Vista 22, 7. Southwest 15