Given the breezy weather conditions that prevailed throughout last Saturday’s Mustang Relays at Otay Ranch High School, the performances turned in by athletes from the 20 competing schools were commendable — and even darn right exciting at times.
Despite runners hitting into a stiff wind heading into the straightaway segments, the 1500-meter invitational proved to be one of the meet’s showcase events, particularly the Blue Division boys race that pitted Metro Conference standouts Bryan Alvarado from Sweetwater High School and Oliver Abundez from Eastlake High School.
Both can compete in any mid- to long-distance event and perform at a high level — from the 400 dash to 3,200 meters. Alvarado ranks among the San Diego Section leaders in both the 800 run (fourth) and 1,600 run (eighth); Abundez is just a tick out of the section top 10 in the 1,600.
The 1,500 thus was a common meeting ground at the Mustang Relays and neither athlete disappointed. The pair exchanged leads throughout the race until Abundez finally won out on a final kick — 4:07.17 to 4:08.46.
Abundez called it one of his best performances of the 2014 season.
“At the Jaguar Invitational, I led the whole race and I really wanted to compete against Bryan here,” the EHS distance runner said. “We trained together during the summer. We were always going at it but he always had the edge. I knew it would be good competition in the 1,500, and I didn’t want to lose to him.”
“In the 1,500, it’s more about speed,” Alvarado noted. “In the 1,600, it’s about keeping a pace and giving it everything the last 400.”
Abundez and Alvarado exchanged surges throughout the opening 1,200 meters of the race before the Titan runner finally executed the final surge. “I left nothing in the tank,” said Abundez, who clocked a personal record 4:23.92 to win the morning session of the Jaguar Invitational on April 19 by a nine-second margin.
Alvarado, who timed 4:22.17 to win the 1,600 run in the Jaguar Invitational’s afternoon session, is keen on lowering his time in the 800 to 1:52 in an effort to qualify for the state championship meet. His best this season is 1:55.30, set March 29 at the Mt. Carmel Invitational.
Mt. Carmel’s Derek Morton is the current section leader in the 800 run at 1:53.60.
“I think I can do it,” Alvarado said. “I definitely want to finish the season strong.”
In the Blue Division girls 1,500 invitational, Otay Ranch’s Monique Anguiano (4:53.58) topped Sweetwater’s Erika Gonzalez (5:01.74).
Otay Ranch captured the team championship trophy in the Blue Division girls field while Eastlake finished runner-up to Steele Canyon in the boys field.
Eastlake finished third in the Blue Division girls field while Sweetwater was third in the boys field. Hilltop finished third in the Silver Division girls field and fourth in the boys field.
Rounding out the Blue Division girls field: Bonita Vista (fifth, 28 points), Olympian (seventh, 26 points) and Sweetwater (ninth, 13 points).
Rounding out the Blue Division boys field: Bonita Vista (fourth, 50 points), Olympian (sixth, 44 points) and Otay Ranch (seventh, 39 points).
Rounding out the Silver Division girls field: Castle Park (sixth, 38 points), Southwest (eighth, 11 points) and Mar Vista (10th, eight points).
Rounding out the Silver Division boys field: Castle Park (sixth, 30 points) and Mar Vista (eighth, 14 points).
Otay Ranch’s girls squad captured top marks in the 4x100 relay (50.48), 4x800 relay (10:01.91) and shot put and pole vault relays (combined marks).
Eastlake’s boys team claimed top marks in the 4x110 shuttle hurdles relay (1:04.37) and shot put and discus relays (combined marks).
Blue Division top individuals included Otay Ranch’s Dona Stephens with top marks in both the 300 invitational dash (42.93) and long jump (16-8), Olympian’s Ed Galloway in the boys 300 invitational dash (36.63), Otay Ranch’s Kara Abshier in the girls shot put (31-9), and Eastlake’s LaShala Gray in the girls high jump (4-9), Wes Braddock in the boys shot put (55-8), Johnna Noiseaux in the girls triple jump (34-6) and Shane Martin in the boys triple jump (41-4).
Silver Division top individuals included Castle Park’s Teairah Jackson in the girls shot put (37-4), Sarah Monton in the girls discus throw (120-4) and Hilltop’s Christopher Perez in the boys long jump (20-5).
Eastlake’s Martin leads the section in the boys 110 high hurdles (14.34) while Noiseaux has the top triple jump mark (38-9) and Braddock ranks second in the shot put (55-8) and third in the discus throw (168-0.5).
Men of Steele getting the jump on section’s prep track and field competition
The Steele Canyon High School boys track and field team placed runner-up for the San Diego Section Division II championship in 2007, captured the Division I title in 2008 and also the Division II banner in 2009.
The Cougars look to be pushing for a top spot on the awards podium again this spring, according to coach Gary Stathus.
“We’re young but I think our performance has not really surprised me,” Stathus said. “I didn’t expect to have the performance we’ve had from our sophomores and juniors but I did expect our seniors to perform like they have. We have some very good juniors on our team.”
Steele Canyon, which has regularly out-distanced opponents on the track in dual meet competition this season, captured the Blue Division title at the 2014 Mustang Relays held April 26 at Otay Ranch High School.
The Cougars scored a meet best 95 points to place ahead of runner-up Eastlake (75 points) and third-place Sweetwater (57 points), the resident powers among the Metro Conference’s boys track and field programs.
For good measure, Steele Canyon’s girls team placed second by four points -- 100 to 96 -- in the Blue Division standings to Mesa League leader Otay Ranch.
A total of 20 teams participated in the April 26 event, which took place amid exceptionally breezy conditions. Monte Vista finished second in the Silver Division boys standings and fourth in the Silver Division girls standings while Valhalla placed fourth in the Blue Division girls standings and ninth in the Blue Division boys standings.
Men of Steele
Cody Rhodes secured three gold medals at this year’s Mustang Relays to help pace the team champion Cougars.
Rhodes helped guide Steele Canyon to a victory in the meet-closing 4x400-meter relay along with teammates Markell Lindley, Javonte Wafford and Malcolm Anders with a time of 3:28.85.
Rhodes also took part in the Cougars’ victorious 4x800 and distance medley relay teams.
Josh Paradise, who brought home two gold medals from the meet, anchored Steele Canyon’s winning distance medley unit (legs of 1,200, 400, 800 and 1,600 meters) while also running a leg on the winning 4x800 relay.
Rhodes ran the third leg in the distance medley event, taking the baton from teammates Derek Tyler and Luis Pina. The foursome timed 10:48.22 over the combined 4,000-meter distance.
The Cougars scored first-place finishes in seven events overall at the Mustang Relays, also producing winning efforts in the 4x100 relay (43.17), 800 sprint medley relay (1:35.47), 4x200 relay (1:30.36) and long jump relay (combined mark).
Among individuals, Ryan Larceval won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles (41.70) while Steele Canyon teammate Alex Wiley captured first place in the long jump (20-0.75). Lindley also recorded a runner-up finish in the 300-meter invitational (37.02).
Wiley ranks second in the section in the long jump with a season best mark of 22-7 while Rhodes ranks third in the section in the 800 run (1:55.03). The Cougars’ 4x400 unit also ranks third in the section (3:22.73).
Stathus places Poway as the team favored to capture this year’s Division I boys championship but doesn’t count out his own squad from challenging for the top spot on the podium.
“We’re going to go in there and do as much damage as we can and qualify as many people as possible for the state meet,” the Steele Canyon coach said. “In a big meet like that, you never know what can happen. We’ll hope for the best.”
Above the rest
In scoring its runner-up finish in the Silver Division, Monte Vista’s boys team captured first-place showings in the 4x100 shuttle hurdles relay (1:06.21), 4x100 relay (43.08), 800 sprint medley relay (1:35.92), 4x200 relay (1:32.02), distance medley relay (11:19.70) and 4x400 relay (3:30.01).
The Monte Vista girls team also captured first-place honors in the distance medley relay (13:38.90).
Among top Silver Division individual performances, Monte Vista’s Celina Lepe won the 1,500 invitational (5:00.97) while Monte Vista’s Jordan Thibodeaux won the boys 300 intermediate hurdles (40.05).
Thibodeaux ranks third in the section in the boys 110 high hurdles (15.04) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (40.05).
In scoring its runner-up finish in the Blue Division, Steele Canyon’s girls team claimed first-place nods in the shuttle hurdles relay (1:08.03), 4x400 relay (4:13.95) and discus relay (combined mark).
Valhalla’s girls team took first-place nods in the sprint medley relay (1:51.03), 4x200 relay (N/A) and distance medley relay (12:58.97).
Isabelle Feller, Myha Castro, Kristin Semancsin and Shea Ricketts comprised the VHS distance medley team.
Among Blue Division individuals, Steele Canyon’s Sabrina Dozier recorded the top girls discus mark on the day at 114-4. Dozier ranks second in the section in the discus throw (124-11).