Otay Ranch High School senior Xander Law has attracted quite a cheering section since he began rewriting the school record book in the boys pole vault as a sophomore.
Mainly due to his success, the Mustangs' pole vault team has swelled in membership. Some 30 student-athletes came out for the event this spring. To make it manageable for coaches, the team is currently carrying 16 vaulters — eight boys and eight girls.
That number might be hard to cap, however, if Law keeps on his current pace.
He established a new school record at 15 feet, 6 inches in Thursday's Mesa League dual meet against visiting Bonita Vista. In fact, he cleared it on his first attempt after previously negotiating a season best clearance of 15-0.
Law had cleared 16-0 in practice two days earlier but missed on his three follow-up attempts on Thursday.
His previous school record had been 15-2. Now, 16-0 remains the goal.
"I want to win the open division this weekend at Arcadia and win it by going 16 feet," he said.
Law will be among a select group of Otay Ranch student-athletes who will compete at Saturday's mega meet. He'll likely attract attention — he's been recruited by such schools as MIT and the Naval Academy — but he's already made a commitment to attend Cuyamaca College for the next two years until he makes a firm decision on where his future academic and athletic endeavors lie.
In the meantime, he can concentrate on reaching new heights.
"It really felt great (setting the new school record)," Law said. "I had been working hard."
The Mustang vaulter said there is no real secret — or change in strategy — when attempting clearances at increasing heights.
"It's all about getting on the right pole," Law explained. "I'd been trying to get on the right pole all season and finally I got on the right pole and PR'd."
Law added that by what he refers to as "the right pole" pertains to that which he said "best suits my height and style."
Law weighs 130 pounds and is jumping on a pole certified for 165 pounders. "When I plant and rock back, it will fling me up because it's 30 pounds past my weight," he said.
Law is the defending Mesa League champion in the boys pole vault. He was favored to win it as well as a sophomore but failed to clear opening height and thus missed qualifying for the San Diego Section prelims.
"After I won it last year, I have put that out of my mind," he explained.
Otay Ranch swept Bonita Vista on the scoreboard, winning 107-29 in the boys half of the meet and 98-38 in the girls half.
ORHS double individual event winners included senior Mark Bjornsson in the boys 110 high hurdles (15.73) and 300 intermediate hurdles (41.32), senior Darren Paraiso in the boys 200 dash (23.67) and 400 dash (52.15), senior Chris Martin in the boys 100 dash (11.36) and long jump (21-0) and senior Brianna Davis in the girls 100 dash (13.26) and high jump (4-8).
Martin out-dueled Bonita Vista's Caleb Su in the 100 dash by 0.10 second. Su had entered the meet as the top-ranked Metro Conference sprinter in the distance.
Other individual winners for the victorious Mustangs included senior Carina Gillespie in the girls 1,600 run (5:32.68), senior Rodrigo Baza in the boys 1,600 run (4:42.52), senior Alyssa Chang in the girls 100 low hurdles (15.47), sophomore Darla Osuna in the girls 800 run (2:30.24), sophomore Isaiah Thomas in the boys 800 run (2:04.13), sophomore Kalani Krause in the girls 3,200 run (12:58.31), junior Steven Liu in the boys 3,200 run (10:26.78), junior Ainaira Manlutac in the girls triple jump (32-6), senior Sean Esteban in the boys triple jump (46-0), senior Vanessa Zarate in the girls discus throw (89-7), senior Cameron Lancour in the boys high jump (6-3) and junior Hannah Moss in the girls pole vault (10-6).
Esteban entered the week leading the entire section in the boys triple jump (46-4.75). His goal is to reach and surpass the 50-foot mark established for former Otay Ranch state champion Marquis Roberts.
"It's kind of a motivation," Esteban explained. "I know other jumpers in the county have placed a target on my back — it makes me hungrier to do better."
Besides winning the triple jump competition on Thursday, he tied for second in the boys high jump with Bonita Vista's Dujuan Owens as both cleared 6-0 and anchored the Mustangs' winning 4x100 relay team (43.87).
Bonita Vista's top performances came by freshman Carol Schroeder in the girls 200 dash (27.11) and 400 dash (1:00.47), senior Alyssabeth De Jerez in the girls 300 hurdles (47.64) and long jump (15-4.5), junior Alex Ohlendorf in the boys shot put (44-11.25) and discus throw (136-7.5) and senior Kaylanee Jones in the girls shot put (31-5.25).
Sweetwater’s Sal Nasser, a returning state meet qualifier, captured the boys long jump (22-1) and 110 high hurdles (16.17) at last Saturday’s Mt. Miguel Elite Eight Invitational. Nasser is the San Diego Section leader in the long jump (23-2.5).
Arcadia Invitational update
Otay Ranch senior Alex Law upped his school record to 15-9 by winning the morning session of the regional-draw meet.
Mustang senior Carina Gillespie placed fifth in the girls invitational 800-meter run with a season best 2:13.01 (tops in the San Diego Section) while Alyssa Chang timed 15th in the girls open 100 low hurdles (15.21) and placed 31st in the open 300 low hurdles (46.97).
Also for Otay Ranch, Sean Esteban placed seventh in the boys open triple jump (45-11.75) while teammate Chris Martin finished 17th in the open boys long jump (21-4).
Chang leads the section in the 100 hurdles with a best time of 14.97 while Esteban ranks second in the triple jump at 46-4.75.
Among other Metro Conference athletes competing at Arcadia, Hilltop transfer Donald Molton tied for fourth in the open 100 dash (10.90) and was 10th in the open 200 dash (22.25). Bonita Vista's Jacob Sherman finished 21st in the rated boys 3,200 run in 9:45.72.