While a team championship wasn’t in the cards for the Otay Ranch Mustangs at last Saturday’s San Diego Section track and field championship meet at Mt. Carmel High School, the Mustangs may have reaped the next best thing: two of its athletes won individual section titles.
Sophomore Carina Gillespie put on a sudden burst of speed to capture the girls 800-meter run while senior Marques Roberts continued his march to this weekend’s state championship meet in Clovis by recording the state’s No. 1 triple jump mark.
The top three place-finishers in each event, plus those who met a predetermined standard, qualified to compete in Friday’s state prelims at Buchanan High School. The state finals are the following day at the same site.
The Metro Conference qualified athletes to this year’s state meet in four events. Eastlake senior Jordan Hines finished second to Roberts in the boys triple jump to join Gillespie as a repeat state qualifier while Mater Dei Catholic sophomore Alexandria Young finished second in the girls triple jump.
The Olympian girls 4x400 relay team adds some spice to this year’s expanded list of South Bay state qualifiers after recording a third place finish.
Hines captured fifth place in the state triple jump last year.
A medal — or more — might be on order from this year’s group.
Until Gillespie won her event halfway through Saturday’s meet, it appeared as if the Metro Conference might come up shockingly empty in the state qualifying department.
But all that changed in 2:13.42 — the time it took Gillespie to complete two circuits on the oval.
The Otay Ranch runner — the Mesa League’s reigning 800 and 1,600 champion — took the lead entering the final lap and preserved it to claim a rather convincing victory. Canyon Crest Academy junior Charlotte Kuzminsky finished second in 2:14.92 while Patrick Henry sophomore Alex Shade was third in 2:15.56.
The current section field in the girls 800 looks to battle for some years ahead. Of the 18 qualifiers for this year’s event, 14 were underclassmen, including six in the Division I field.
Gillespie finishes the season as both the section and Division I champion. Her time ranks 14th in the field of 32 state qualifiers.
“It feels exciting,” Gillespie said. “I’ve been working very hard. It’s really unbelievable.”
The 2:13.42 is not only a season best but also a new school record. She timed 2:15.53 at last year’s state prelims after speeding to a 2:14.89 time at the section finals.
Gillespie rewrote her school record in bold fashion. “I just wanted to push myself on the second lap,” she said. “I felt a burst of energy. I just wanted to maintain my lead the last 100 meters.”
The next step for Gillespie: dip under the 2:10 mark.
“I’d like to get top three in the state but know I still have two more years to go, so I’m not too worried about it right now,” she said.
Gillespie’s success comes as she is somewhat new to competitive running after having spent her earlier youth focused mainly on youth soccer and, to some degree, softball.
“Making it to state in her first year of competitive running as a freshman last year was quite an accomplishment,” ORHS coach Ian Cumming said. “She is a pleasure to coach in many ways. She is an outstanding person and student. She also works very hard, pays attention to our conversations on racing strategies and then implements them very well with the rare ability to adjust to both expected and unexpected race developments caused by conditions and/or other competitors.
“In addition, she has a great sense for making the most advantageous move at the correct time. As well as she has run already, all indications are that she will continue to improve significantly.”
Evans — the Mesa League’s high jump and triple jump champion — was the next Metro athlete to punch her ticket to the state meet. She smashed her previous best mark in the triple jump by several inches.
Young’s jump of 38 feet, 1.5 inches was well behind the winning mark of 39-4.5 posted by El Camino junior Tamika Smith but still good enough to place the Mater Dei jumper comfortably in front of third-place finisher Sheree Collins of Lincoln (37-5.5).
Smith and Young set the standard in the event throughout the season. Smith ranks sixth among the 27 state qualifiers while Young is 14th.
Young’s personal record in the triple jump made up for an admittedly disappointing finish in the girls high jump. Young cleared 5-1 to place fourth in the Division II field and ninth overall.
Back in her specialty event, the triple jump, she was definitely more comfortable as she finished as the Division II champion.
“I knew I could better my PR (personal record) in the triple jump — I feel great, I feel energized,” she said. “At state, I’m not going to hold anything back.”
Roberts and Hines’ 1-2 finish in the boys triple jump has to rank as a defining moment for South County track. The two met seven times this season in head-to-head match-ups. One ended in a tie.
Roberts had the best success in the series this season.
Hines jumped 48-2.75 to finish fifth at last year’s state meet. He bettered that mark this season with his runner-up 48-9.5 mark at the section finals.
Roberts nailed the legendary 50-0 mark in the section prelims and captured the 2011 section and Division I titles with a jump of 49-7.5 in Saturday’s finals.
Morse senior Travis Johnson (a fourth-place state medalist last year) finished third with a jump of 48-8 while Steele Canyon senior Thomas Clanton was fourth at 46-8.
Roberts said he is motivated to excel by the underclassmen competing in the event.
“I see younger athletes trying to match what I’ve done and it makes me want to go farther,” he said. “I need to be consistent when I’m jumping. I get a little too excited at times because I want to go far and I end up fouling.”
He enters this weekend’s state meet as the top qualifier in the event.
“I should be hitting 51 feet at state,” he said. “I know I fouled on a couple of my jumps that were 51 feet or over 50 feet, so I know it’s reachable.”
Olympian set a season best in the 4x400 relay with its time of 3:58.91 in taking its bronze medal. The Eagles foursome included Rachel Rainey, Charmayne Judkins, Nirelle Davis and Kristina Brown.
Olympian led the field for half of the race before eventually yielding the lead to Mt. Carmel (first, 3:55.20) and Mission Hills (second, 3:56.32) in the final lap. Steele Canyon finished fourth in 3:59.58.
The spirited OHS underclassmen quartet becomes the first group of athletes to qualify for the state meet from the Sweetwater district’s newest school.
“It means a lot to us to be the first,” Judkins said.
The Eagles rank 18th in the field of 28 state qualifiers.
For more information, visit the Web site at www.cifstate.org.
CIF honor roll
Olympian senior Julian Robinson topped the Division II ranks in the boys 300 intermediate hurdles with a time of 39.26. He finished seventh overall among the nine runners in the state qualifying heat.
Team champions included El Camino (Division I girls), Rancho Bernardo (Division I boys), Valley Center (Division II girls) and University City (Division II boys).
Olympian finished fifth in the Division II standings while Otay Ranch finished 10th in the Division I boys standings.
San Diego Section Track & Field Championships
(Metro Conference Place-winners)
Division I Finals
Boys Running Events
4x100 relay: 6. Eastlake 43.20
1600: 7. Trent Warren (Eastlake) 4:23.70
110 hurdles: 9. Isaac Mallett (Otay Ranch) 17.32
300 hurdles: 6. Isaac Mallett (Otay Ranch) 39.22
3200: 5. Steven Martinez (Otay Ranch) 9:29.23, 10. Shinaola Agbede (Bonita Vista) 9:47.71, 11. Caesar Castillo (Bonita Vista) 9:51.61
4x400 relay: 6. Otay Ranch 3:26.94
Boys Field Events
High jump: 4. (tie) Branden Greene (Bonita Vista) 6-3, 8. Spencer Curtis (Sweetwater) 6-1
Pole vault: 7. German Palma (Bonita Vista) 13-8, 10. Alejandro Lopez (Eastlake) 11-8
Long jump: 6. Marques Roberts (Otay Ranch) 21-8.5, 9. Jordan Hines (Eastlake) 20-10.75
Triple jump: 1. Marques Roberts (Otay Ranch) 49-7.5 2. Jordan Hines (Eastlake) 48-9.5, 7. Sean Esteban (Otay Ranch) 43-7.5
Shot put: 8. Jon Bajet (Otay Ranch) 48-3
Discus throw: 5. Jon Bajet (Otay Ranch) 155-8
Girls Running Events
4x100 relay: 7. Hilltop 50.14
100 hurdles: 8. Alyssa Chang (Otay Ranch) 15.32
400: 8. Sarah Garces (Eastlake) 1:01.51
100: 9. Tiana Gillon (Hilltop) 12.68
800: 1. Carina Gillespie (Otay Ranch) 2:13.42
300 hurdles: 9. Jade Palm (Bonita Vista) 46.84
200: 7. Kiera Williams (Otay Ranch) 25.85
3200: 12. Cristina Hernandez (Bonita Vista) 12:12.37
4x400 relay: 8. Bonita Vista 4:06.29, 9. Chula Vista 4:07.67
Girls Field Events
Triple jump: 7. Daeniesha Burrell (Chula Vista) 35-9.5
Pole vault: 5. (tie) Tiffany Smith (Otay Ranch) 10-3
Division II Finals
Boys Running Events
110 hurdles: 5. Julian Robinson (Olympian) 15.48
300 hurdles: 1. Julian Robinson (Olympian) 39.26
Boys Field Events
Long jump: 4. Chevy King (Castle Park) 21-6
Discus throw: 6. Edward Madrano (Mater Dei Catholic) 135-2
Girls Running Events
4x100 relay: 4. Mater Dei Catholic 50.40, 6. Olympian 50.69
1600: 9. Keeshawna Jackson (Castle Park) 5:23.76
400: 2. Rachel Rainey (Olympian) 58.25, 9. Kristina Brown (Olympian) 1:00.40
100: 6. Cardedra Evans (Mater Dei Catholic) 12.63, 7. Nicole Johnson (Olympian) 12.64
300 hurdles: 3. Charmayne Judkins (Olympian) 46.50
200: 4. Nicole Johnson (Olympian) 25.98
4x400 relay: 1. Olympian 3:58.91
Girls Field Events
High jump: 4. Alexandria Young (Mater Dei Catholic) 5-1
Triple jump: 1. Alexandria Young (Mater Dei Catholic) 38-1.5
Discus throw: 9. Jessica Mendoza (Castle Park) 84-6
Boys Division I
Points: 1. Rancho Bernardo 76, 2. Scripps Ranch 65, 3. (tie) El Camino, Torrey Pines 41, 5. Mt. Carmel 37, 6. Helix 36, 7. Poway 34, 8. La Costa Canyon 33, 9. Valhalla 32.5, 10. Otay Ranch 30, 11. Carlsbad 25, 12. (tie) Morse, Vista 20, 14. Steele Canyon 17, 15. Rancho Buena Vista 16, 16. San Pasqual 15.5, 17. Granite Hills 15, 18. Grossmont 14, 19. Eastlake 13, 20. Westview 10, 21. Fallbrook 8, 22. Mission Hills 7, 23. Bonita Vista 6.5, 24. Escondido 6, 25. Mira Mesa 2.5, 26. (tie) Oceanside, Sweetwater 1
Girls Division I
Points: 1. El Camino 95, 2. Torrey Pines 66, 3. Rancho Bernardo 47, 4. Mt. Carmel 40, 5. (tie) Poway, Steele Canyon 36, 7. Carlsbad 32, 8. Westview 26, 9. Granite Hills 23, 10. (tie) Patrick Henry, Oceanside 22, 12. Mission Hills 21, 13. La Costa Canyon 20, 14. El Cajon Valley 18, 15. Otay Ranch 17, 16, San Pasqual 15, 17. Escondido 11, 18. Lincoln 9, 19. (tie) Helix, Vista, Mira Mesa, Morse 8, 23. (tie) Rancho Buena Vista, San Diego, Fallbrook 7, 26. Valhalla 6, 27. (tie) Scripps Ranch, Hilltop, Chula Vista 2, 30. (tie) Eastlake, Grossmont, Bonita Vista 1
Boys Division II
Points: 1. University City 68.5, 2. Ramona 67, 3. Cathedral Catholic 58, 4. Serra 49, 5. Mt. Miguel 34, 6. El Capitan 27.5, 7. La Jolla Country Day 26.5, 8. Christian 26, 9. St. Augustine 23, 10. La Jolla 22.5, 11. Madison 17, 12. Valley Center 16, 13. Palo Verde 15, 14. Olympian 14, 15. (tie) West Hills, Monte Vista, San Marcos 13, 18. Calvin Christian 12, 19. (tie) Point Loma, Kearny 10. 21. Coronado 9, 22. (tie) Imperial, Bishop’s, Army-Navy, Del Norte 8, 26. (tie) Southwest El Centro, Canyon Crest Academy 7, 28. Mountain Empire 6, 29. Castle Park 5, 30. (tie) Mission Bay, Central Union 4, 32. (tie) Mater Dei Catholic, Horizon Christian 3, 34. (tie) Francis Parker, San Dieguito Academy, Julian 2, 37. (tie) Clairemont, Maranatha Christian 1
Girls Division II
Points: 1. Valley Center 59, 2. Clairemont 53, 3. Point Loma 47.5, 4. Mt. Miguel 38, 5. Olympian 34, 6. University City 32, 7. Cathedral Catholic 31, 8. West Hills 30, 9. Monte Vista 28.5, 10. (tie) Mission Bay, Serra 25, 12. Mater Dei Catholic 23, 13. Coronado21.5, 14. El Capitan 20, 15. Canyon Crest Academy 19, 16. San Dieguito Academy 18, 17. La Jolla 17, 18. Del Norte 15, 19. La Jolla Country Day 13, 20. Calvin Christian 11, 21. Madison 10, 22. Our Lady of Peace 9, 23. (tie) Bishop’s, Christian 7, 25. Mountain Empire 4, 28. Imperial 3.5, 29. Palo Verde 3, 30. River Valley 2, 31. San Marcos 1