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Soaring to victory at Metro finals Phillip Brents | Tue, May 25 2010 11:49 PM

Sometimes it's not a good idea to change things up when heading into post-season competition. And then, sometimes the gamble pays off.

As in the case of Bonita Vista junior pole vaulter German Palma.

Palma recently switched to a new pole in an effort to vault higher. The end result was a season-best clearance of 13 feet, six inches to win last Friday's Mesa League championship in finals at Otay Ranch High School.

"I started using a longer, stiffer pole," he said. "I had to overcome a mental block because I knew it was going to get me to go higher."

Palma's 13-6 height led a field of 10 entrants in this year's Mesa League championship meet.

Palma won a jump-off for the league title with Otay Ranch senior Ryan Vasquez, who also cleared 13-6. Eastlake sophomore Eric Dredla (12-6) finished in third place, followed by teammate Alejandro Lopez (12-0) in fourth place.

A total of seven vaulters cleared 10 feet: Eastlake sophomore Daniel Williams (fifth, 11-6), Bonita Vista junior Daniel Torres (sixth, 11-0) and Otay Ranch freshman Alex Law (seventh, 10-0).

Besides adapting to the new pole, there were other things Palma said he had to perfect entering the 2010 varsity season.

"From last year, I had to improve my runway speed and my plant - all technique stuff," he said.

Palma's first-place finish qualified him for Saturday's San Diego Section prelim meet at Mt. Carmel High School. Top qualifiers (nine per division in each event) advance to the section championship meet the following Saturday, also at Mt. Carmel. The top three place-finishers at the section finals advance to the state championship meet June 4-5 in Clovis.

Palma's winning height at the league finals ranked ninth among marks turned in last weekend around the county.

Palma was among 16 event champions in the boys field in the Mesa League at last Friday's meet. Competition was also held in the girls field in the Mesa League as well in both genders in the South Bay League finals.

The top two placers in each event at the league finals qualified for the section prelims, plus those athletes also meeting a pre-determined qualifying standard.

Athletes of the meet
Mesa League coaches selected one male and one female athlete of the meet while South Bay League coaches named separate track and field athletes of the meet (both male and female).

Otay Ranch senior Eric Severiano earned recognition as the Mesa League's male Athlete of the Meet after capturing the 400-meter dash in 49.98 seconds and running legs on the Mustangs' victorious 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.

Eastlake senior Diamond Mitchell won the 100- and 200-meter dashes and also ran a leg on the Titans' winning 4x400 relay team to earn Mesa League female Athlete of the Meet accolades. Mitchell timed 12.33 in the 100 dash and 26.03 in the 200 dash, defeating Otay Ranch senior Nicole Crutchfield (12.62) in the 100 dash and Mustangs freshman Kiera Williams (26.50) in the 200 dash.

Crutchfield was the two-time defending league champion in the 100 dash. Williams won this year's 400 dash title in 58.37.

In the South Bay League, Sweetwater senior Aylin Mejia and Montgomery senior Thomas Little earned recognition as the league's track athletes of the meet while Olympian senior Lesleah Flores and Castle Park senior Cesar Amparo received honors as the league's field athletes of the meet.

Mejia finished first in the girls 1,600 run (5:12.94) and 3,200 run (11:36.05) and ran a leg on Sweetwater's winning 4x400 relay team.

Little won league titles in the boys 110 high hurdles (15.42), 300 intermediate hurdles (39.66) and 200 dash (22.72) while taking second place in the 100 dash (11.31).

Flores took first place in the girls triple jump (32-5) and third in the long jump (14-11.5) and also finished first in the 100 hurdles (17.07).

Amparo finished first in the boys discus throw (139-2.5) and second in the shot put (43-5).

Top teams
Otay Ranch once again dominated this year's Mesa League championship finals, held May 14 on the Mustangs' oval. Otay Ranch racked up a meet best 245 points in the boys meet to easily out-distance runner-up Eastlake (133 points). Bonita Vista followed in third place with 63 points - well behind the Titans. The Mustangs out-pointed Eastlake, 159-115, to finish atop the girls team standings. Bonita Vista also was third in the girls field, finishing with 105 points in a very competitive top three race for the team title.

Eastlake finished runner-up in the Mesa League while Olympian finished second to Sweetwater in the SBL girls finals and Sweetwater placed second to Olympian in the SBL boys finals.

Regular season dual meet champions included Otay Ranch (Mesa League boys and girls), Castle Park (SBL boys) and Sweetwater (SBL girls).

Mesa League highlights
Otay Ranch freshman Donald Molton captured both the boys 100 dash (11.12) and 200 dash (22.50) while running a leg on the Mustangs' victorious 4x100 relay team. Chula Vista senior Tyrone Richardson was a close second in both sprint events (11.15 in the 100 dash and 22.83 in the 200 dash).

Otay Ranch freshman Catie Ledesma set school records in winning the  girls 1,600 run (5:11.93) and 3,200 run (11:24.99). Ledesma edged fellow classmate Carina Gillespie (5:12.64) in the 1,600 run and topped defending league champion Michelle Walling (11:25.22), a senior from Eastlake, in the 3,200 run. Gillespie later came back to win the 800 run (2:19.03).

Eastlake senior Kayla Walden won three individual events: girls long jump (16-9), triple jump (34-5.25) and high jump (4-10).

Otay Ranch senior Jacob Roach successfully defended his boys 3,200 title by clocking 9:38.65 to outlast Bonita Vista junior Shin Agbede (9:44.11).

Otay Ranch junior Marques Roberts won titles in the boys long jump (20-11.5) and triple jump (45-3.5).

Otay Ranch junior Jon Bajet won titles in the boys shot put (51-1) and discus throw (156-8).

Otay Ranch junior Tiffany Smith equaled her school record of 10-6 in winning the girls pole vault.

Bonita Vista senior Alfredo Rodriguez (4:28.59) sped away from Otay Ranch's Roach (4:30.88) in the final 100 yards to win the boys 1,600 run. Rodriguez (1:56.22) won the 800 run (an event in which he is ranked second in the section) by a three-second margin over Eastlake junior Sean Stanko (1:59.59).

Otay Ranch freshman Alyssa Chang (15.86) won the girls 100 low hurdles while Bonita Vista junior Jade Palm (46.77) won the girls 300 hurdles. Palm finished second in the 100 lows (15.99); Chang was second in the 300 event (47.89).

Otay Ranch junior Isaac Mallett (first, 39.23) and senior Oscar Zuniga (second, 39.93) both slipped under the 40.0 mark in the boys 300 intermediate hurdles.

Otay Ranch junior J'Vion Johnson (15.75) edged Zuniga (15.78) at the finish line in the boys 110 high hurdles. Johnson also won the boys high jump (6-4).

Bonita Vista junior Jaleisha Freeman (34-9.5) won the girls shot put while Chula Vista senior Justicia Sueing won the girls discus throw (118-1).

Otay Ranch won the girls 4x100 relay (49.24), boys 4x100 relay (43.47) and boys 4x400 relay (3:28.28).

Eastlake won the girls 4x400 relay (4:10.07).

South Bay League highlights
Sweetwater sophomore Abinadi Castellanos won titles in the boys 1,600 run (4:39.33) and 3,200 run (10:08.42).

Southwest senior Kyky Davis won league titles in both the girls 100 dash (12.99) and 200 dash (26.97).

Individual South Bay League boys champions included: Olympian junior Greg Piocos (51.71, 400 dash), Montgomery juniors Emmanuel Quiambao (11.21, 100 dash) and David Bobadilla (2:02.24, 800 run), Sweetwater senior Rapi Sotoa (20-5, long jump), Castle Park sophomore Chevy King (40-7.5, triple jump), Mar Vista junior Seville Hayes (47-7, shot put), Southwest junior Pierre Davis (5-8, high jump) and Southwest junior Chris DeGuzman (11-6, pole vault).

Individual South Bay League girls champions included: Sweetwater senior Maila Lucht (1:00.56, 400 dash), SuHi junior Prisma Mendoza (2:25.99, 800 run), Southwest sophomore Jazmin Harpe (15-5.5, long jump), Sweetwater senior Genesis Lugo (34-0.5, shot put), Southwest senior Denise Atualevao (99-11, discus throw), Castle Park senior Lanita Sanders (4-10, high jump) and Sweetwater sophomore Xiomara Mascorro (8-6, pole vault).

Olympian won the girls 4x100 relay (50.65), boys 4x100 relay (44.26) and boys 4x400 relay (3:29.60).

Sweetwater won the girls 4x400 relay (4:05.28).

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