The Eastlake High School track team has started off Mesa League competition undefeated with double dual meet victories against Chula Vista (April 7) and Bonita Vista (April 14). The Titans and likewise league unbeaten Otay Ranch appear on a May 5 collision course for supremacy in the league.
The Mesa League championship meet is scheduled May 14 at Otay Ranch High School.
It's taken the Titans a few years to reload on the boys side while the Eastlake girls team returns to defend its league title. The Titans nearly doubled the score over runner-up Otay Ranch at last year's league championship meet while Eastlake finished a strong third behind runaway boys winner Otay Ranch and second place Bonita Vista.
In league meets this season, the Titans swept Chula Vista by scores of 78-37 (boys) and 76-43 (girls) and topped Bonita Vista by scores of 91-40 (boys) and 71-65 (girls).
The EHS coaching staff includes Rone Torres (head coach, jumpers), Fran Koopman (head coach, sprints), Al Vitella/Jerrell Mitchell (hurdles), Joe Stubbs (distances), Devon Aleman (pole vault) and B.J. Hunt (throwers).
It's a combination that has helped the Titans solidify into one of the South County's upper echelon programs.
"I love our coaching staff this season," Torres said. "It took me a few years since I took over the program to finally get the right mix and everyone on the same page. The numbers of kids in the program has grown since my first season at about 80 kids total to more than 200 this season. I love the combination of both experience and young go-getters who the kids really love, appreciate and respond to. They all work hard and we all work great together."
Chris Fletcher, Darran Hall, Daniel Diaz Jalen Mondane, Tewan Lewis and Aaron Baltazar round out a nice core group of sprinters, according to Torres. "No one is blow-the-doors-off incredible, but they are extremely solid, have remained healthy and have shaved seconds off times all season so far," the EHS coach said.
Daniel Johnson, Andre Monaco and Kyle Lintz lead Eastlake's 400-meter dash attack, though Torres said he sees Hall, a sophomore, having the potential to become one of the most dominant quarter-milers in the league.
Aaron Goodman returns and will challenge for the Mesa League title in both the 110 high hurdles and 330 intermediate hurdles. He finished second in the high hurdles at last year's league finals. Rounding out the event for the Titans are tri-sport athlete Jordan Hines (football, roller hockey and track) and Dom Varez.
Kyle Lintz, Sean Stanko, Caesar Rodriguez and Trent Warren comprise one of the better distance teams in the South County and should push Otay Ranch's top-ranked crew at the league finals. Lintz won the 1,600 run in 4:35 against Chula Vista.
Hines, Roshawn Brock and Ernie Rowe lead the jumps while Nick Parra, Eric Dreadla, and Alex Lopez comprise the team's pole vaulters, an event at which the Titans may rank among the best in the league.
Eastlake's solid core of weight men (shot put/discus throw) include Jose Mitchell, Nikko Giron, Alex Baez and Jacob Desoto.
Diamond Mitchell already has broken the school record in the 200 meters this season by clocking 26.09. Chelsea Almario returns as a top flight sprinter, while Danielle Sullivan, Taylar Griffis and Kayla Walden help make the team's sprint unit one of the more dominant in the league.
Sophie Fry, Charmaine Strayhorn and Jessica Chavez are all new to track and the event, Torres said, but have helped add depth to the girls team. "Being all young, they will continue to rise as the season progresses," the EHS coach said.
Michelle Walling will end her career this season as one of the most dominant distance runners in the history of South Bay running. She is the defending league champion in the girls 3,200 run and qualified for last fall's state cross country meet. She captured the 1,600 event in 5:23.10 in the team's opening league dual meet.
Torres said newcomers such as Savanah Scooler, Jenna and Sarah Garces, Anna Gonzalez and Anissa Amezcua assist Walling to form a solid distance unit.
Almario and Walden are both contenders to win league titles in the jumps after finishing second and third, respectively, in last year's Mesa finals. Walden set a new school record in the long jump (17-1.5) at last Saturday's Jaguar Invitational and needs only 1.5 inches to set a new school record in the triple jump (which stands at 34-10.5).
Walden won the long jump (16-6) and triple jump (33-8) in the CV dual.
Kayla Lawson, Breanna Barksdale, Kai Lopez and Thalia Malachi are all freshmen competing in varsity jumps. Barksdale has jumped more than 15 feet in the long jump and cleared 4-7 in the high jump while Lawson is nearing 30 feet in the triple jump - all outstanding marks for ninth graders, Torres noted.
Rachelle Minyard, Liz Castro and Corin Chapman comprise this year's girls pole vault team at EHS. Minyard placed runner-up at last year's league finals. EHS vaulters finished 1-2-3 at last year's league finals.
Throwers include Andrea Umali, Sierra Galanosa, Sarah Zakaroff and Ashely Ross. All are either freshmen or sophomores and have a bright future, the Titan coach said.