Last Saturday’s showing by Metro Conference student-athletes at the San Diego Section’s annual track and field championship meet was an attention grabber. What had people talking: eight event qualifiers for this weekend’s state meet and six event division champions.
It was a deserving showcase for the South County’s elite performers.
“We’re very proud of the showing by our league and obviously by our athletes,” Otay Ranch coach Ian Cumming offered in complimentary fashion.
The Mesa League finished with five state qualifiers and three division titles.
Otay Ranch junior Carina Gillespie repeated her individual championship in the girls 800-meter run while league newcomer Olympian made a statement for its program with division titles in two events: girls 4x100 relay and girls 100 low hurdles (sophomore Sydney Magdalena).
The South Bay League didn’t fare badly either, with three division titles, including two in the boys long jump and another in the boys high jump.
Castle Park senior Chevy King recorded a section-leading mark of 24 feet, six inches to win the Division II title in the boys long jump while Sweetwater junior Sal Nasser won the Division I title in the event at 23-5.5 (second to King in the section).
Sweetwater senior Spencer Curtis won the Division I title in the boys high jump with a career best mark of 6-7 — two inches ahead of regular season leader Branden Greene of Bonita Vista (tied for second).
The top three place-finishers in A-heats/flights qualified for the state meet. State qualifiers include Gillespie, King, Curtis, Nasser, Greene, Otay Ranch junior Alyssa Chang (third in the girls 100 low hurdles), Mater Dei Catholic senior Eddie Medrano (second in the boys discus throw) and the Olympian 4x100 relay unit.
Curtis and Greene (6-5) went 1-2 for the overall lead at last Saturday’s section finals to highlight the Metro’s showing. Greene finished in a tie for second with San Pasqual senior Sam Hartinger, also a state meet qualifier.
Green finished second behind Curtis in the Division I standings after posting the top regular season mark of 6-9.
Curtis had the crowd clapping for him during his three attempts at 6-9, which would have set a new school record had he cleared it.
“It felt great (to win it),” Curtis said. “Me, Branden and Sam — we all had trouble at 6-3. We each cleared it on our last jump. Then, at 6-5, we all cleared it. At 6-7, I was the only one to clear. I was so excited.”
The SuHi jumper said it was a matter of peaking at the right time.
“At the Arcadia meet (in the middle of the season), I cleared 6-3, which was kind of disappointing in such a big meet, but I didn’t want to peak too early,” Curtis said. “I felt I should be peaking at the end of the season and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. It means a lot to me because we have a record board in our gym — I started out in the middle and now I’ve worked my way toward the top.”
Nasser set a new school record in recording his division title in the long jump.
“What all the coaches talk about at school is Trandon Harvey (Washington State, Arena Football League) and that’s why I’m so excited — it’s a 10-year-old record,” Nasser said with a new-found air of pride.
King remains, well, king of the section long jump after leaping to the No. 2 mark in the state (behind Oakland Bishop O’Dowd’s Nathaniel Moore at 24-7.75) at last Saturday’s meet. King’s showing in the long jump made amends for a poor performance in the boys triple jump at the preceding week’s section prelims that saw the CP jumper foul on all three of his jumps.
Nasser ranks eighth overall among the 34 state prelim qualifiers; Curtis is ninth in the high jump.
The top six medal at Saturday’s state finals.
Medrano won the Mesa League title at 146-7; he threw 159-10 at the section finals to better the third-place mark of Madison’s Dotun Ogundeji (159-8) to punch his ticket to the state meet.
Gillespie will be making her third consecutive trip to the state meet after turning in a school record time of 2:11.0 in placing runner-up to race-winner Charlotte Kuzminsky of Canyon Crest. Kuzminsky won overall section bragging rights as well as the Division II title in 2:10.16.
The defending section winner in the event, Gillespie was right on Kuzminsky’s heels with 200 meters to go but lost the sprint down the final 100-meter straightaway.
“Because of what she did last year, you would expect that Carina would qualify (for state) but you still have to go out and do it,” Cumming said. “Carina beat the Canyon Crest girl last year and the Canyon Crest girl came back to win this year. If you run your best-ever time and still get beat, you can’t feel too badly about your performance.”
Gillespie set the standard during the first half of the season at 2:13.41 before Torrey Pines senior Ashlyn Dadkhah (2:12.12) grabbed the spotlight in mid-May.
“I got my best time by two-and-half seconds — second place is fine with me,” Gillespie said, glowing.
Chang timed 14.76 in the girls 100 low hurdles — 0.11 ahead of Olympian’s Magdalena.
Cumming called Chang’s state qualifying third-place finish a “big breakthrough.”
“Looking at how competitive she is, we knew if she had a great start that she’d have a chance,” the ORHS coach said. “She’s worked hard the entire season.”
Olympian’s girls 4x100 relay timed 48.273 to Granite Hills’ 48.279 to edge the East County team for third place and the final automatic state qualifying berth.
Magdalena finished fourth in the 100 hurdles A-heat — one spot away from a state qualifying berth — but 0.27 seconds ahead of Valley Center senior Sidney Reilly for first place among Division II hurdlers.
Olympian topped Metro teams with an eighth place finish among all girls teams (fifth in Division II) and 10th among all boys teams (tied for fourth in Division II).
Olympian junior Andrew Fukushima finished second among Division II boys in the 110 high hurdlers (15.35).
Olympian sophomore Nicole Johnson was second in the Division II girls 100 dash (12.58) while senior teammate Kristina Brown was second in the Division II girls high jump (5-1).
Olympian finished third among Division II teams in both the boys 4x100 relay (43.14) and 4x400 relay (3:23.96).
Chula Vista sophomore Daniesha Burrell was fourth in the Division I girls triple jump (36-4) while Otay Ranch junior Sean Esteban was fourth in the Division I boys triple jump (45-4.5).
Otay Ranch junior Xander Law was sixth in the Division I boys pole vault at 14-9.