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Metro athletes qualify for state track and field meet in six events Phillip Brents | Fri, May 31 2013 08:14 AM

Otay Ranch pole vaulter Xander Law was competing with an injured knee after a freak accident in practice while teammate Carina Gillespie found herself boxed in and running on the dreaded outside lane during the girls 800-meter run.

In the girls 4x400 relay, Bonita Vista built a huge 30-meter lead only to see it vanish heading into the last lap.

That was some of the drama that unfolded at last Saturday’s San Diego Section track and field championship meet at Mt. Carmel High School.

Law and Gillespie, as well as the Barons relay squad, all overcame adversity to advance to Saturday’s state meet in Clovis along with three other event qualifiers from the Metro Conference.

For Gillespie, it will be her fourth time competing at Buchanan High School where temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees this weekend. She’s hoping to bring home a medal this year.

She summed up last weekend’s near calamity curtly: “As a runner, you have to expect the unexpected.”

The words fit perfectly.

The top three finishers in the state qualifying A-heats/flights at the section finals received automatic trips to Clovis. But midway through her race, Gillespie was fourth.

“I thought it would be more spread out and I kind of got boxed in,” said Gillespie, a three-time Division I champion in the 800 run. “I also got spiked. It was kind of tight at the front. It was really congested.”

With 150 meters to go, Gillespie decided to try to break away despite running on the outside. She did just that but the pack began to close in tightly on her heels as the finish line approached.

 “I saw (Rancho Bernardo junior) Katie Sammer out of the corner of my eye — her shadow started getter closer and I had to lean at the end,” the Metro’s mid-distance queen said.

Gillespie captured first place in 2:14.80, edging Sammer by a mere .05 second. Westview senior Kaelyn Harbison was third in 2:15.51.

The time for Gillespie was not particularly fast; she is still chasing the 2:11.0 she set at last year’s section finals.

“I still want to get under 2:10,” Gillespie said.

Otay Ranch coach Ian Cumming noted that Gillespie accomplished something that very few athletes ever do at the section finals by winning three consecutive Division I championships in the same event. 

“She is ready to run very fast and will do very well in Clovis this weekend,” Cumming said optimistically.

Xander the Lawgiver
Cumming, who remained very proud of the Mustangs’ two state qualifiers, said it was “amazing” that Law was even vaulting last weekend, much less taking second place in the section by clearing 15-10.

“He hurt his knee on Thursday when his pole snapped back and caused a contusion to his knee,” Cumming explained. “We owe a big thank you to Manual Orthopedic for treating him on Friday and allowing him a chance to compete. Breaking the old meet record of 15-9 and finishing second is a statement to his tenacity and positive outlook. He is ready to vault very well this Saturday and has his sights set very high.”

Law cleared 16-0 to win the Mesa League title. He termed his performance “decent” under the circumstances last weekend. Mt. Carmel senior Kyle Pater cleared 16-4 to win the competition.

Law has cleared 16-4 in practice and has his goal set of one day clearing 17 feet. “I think I have it in me,” he said.

Fleet feet
Bonita Vista’s 4x400 relay team has been the talk of postseason competition and the Barons certainly did not disappoint at last weekend’s CIF finals.

Braced by a blazing 57.2-second first lap by freshman Carol Schroeder and a 60-second second lap by senior Raelene deArmas, Bonita Vista shot out to a commanding lead.

But with 100 meters before the final handoff on the anchor leg, Baron freshman Sammy Silsbee began to encounter obvious difficulties. She began to slow noticeably and the gap closed until she was passed by runners from Carlsbad and La Jolla about 15 meters before the anchor leg handoff.

“My legs gave out,” Silsbee said.

In what seemed like forever, senior Alyssabeth DeJerez finally grabbed hold of the baton and took off, maintaining her team’s third-place showing (a season best 3:55.40) and a trip to the state meet.

“Everybody doubted us and here we are … here’s Bonita Vista,” deArmas said as team members wiped away tears of joy.

The A-team
Joining Otay’s Gillespie and Law and the BVHS distance relay team in Clovis for Friday’s state prelims are three Eastlake Titans: seniors Wesley Braddock (boys shot put) and Kayla Lawson (girls 100 dash) and sophomore Johnna Noiseaux (girls triple jump).

Braddock, Lawson and Noiseaux all finished third in their respective events at the section finals, with Braddock (53-9.5) earning the Division I title and both Lawson (12.08) and Noiseaux (37-1) placing second in the Division I field.

Law and the Barons 4x400 relay team also secured runner-up place-finishes in Division I.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Noiseaux, who recorded a 34-4.75 mark at the Mesa League finals.

“I’m happy, I’m energized,” said Lawson, whose best time is 12.01 this season, “I’ve got one more week to try to reach my personal goal (of dipping under 12).”

The 53-9.5 was a personal record for Braddock, who recorded a 52-6 at the Mesa League finals. Madison junior Dotun Ogundeji, the Division II champion, had the best mark of the day at 57-10.5, followed by Imperial senior Sebastian Santos at 54-7.75.

“I felt good going in but I got a little tensed up during the meet,” the Titan weight man said. “But I’m going to state and will be hoping to do better up there. It’s kind of surprising for me to win Division I. It’s a surprise to come through.”

But then, expect the unexpected.

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