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Xander Law is soaring to new heights for Otay Ranch track team Phillip Brents | Fri, Apr 27 2012 12:41 PM

Otay Ranch pole vaulter Xander Law experienced both the highs and lows of competition last year. He set a school record at 14 feet, 6 inches during regular season competition but, in his moment of truth, failed to meet his entry height of 13-0 at the Mesa League finals.

The Mesa League finals serve as a qualifying event for the San Diego Section prelims and finals.

Instead of reaching for greater heights, Law’s season ended prematurely.

“It was really disappointing, especially since I was so excited for CIF — it took me a while to get over it,” he said.

Law is back in his pursuit of new heights and has obviously  put the nightmarish ending to his 2011 season behind him as evidenced by his school record performance at last Saturday’s Mustang/East Hills Realty Relays at Otay Ranch High School.

Law upped his own school record to 14-7 and then went on to eclipse that by clearing 15-0 to finish as the top individual in the 22-team event.

“It’s a new season, I’m ready to give it my all this season,” he said.

Law said there were a couple of contributing factors to last year’s disappointing finish at the league championship meet, held on the same jumping pit.

First, he said the weather was cold. Secondly, he said he was trying a new pole on which he had previously vaulted once.

He called last Saturday’s mix of sun and clouds — and a late afternoon breeze — “a perfect day” to vault.

“There was a great tail-wind,” he said. “It was great for jumping.”

Law cleared 14-7 on his third attempt and promptly went over 15-0 on his next trip down the runway. He missed on three subsequent attempts at 15-4.

The 15-0 mark would move Law into third place in the section rankings. The top three place-finishers at the section finals, plus those who meet a predetermined standard, qualify for the state meet.

Steele Canyon’s Peter McCoy was second at this year’s Mustang Relays by clearing 13-6 while four vaulters cleared 13-0: La Jolla’s Miles Bolles (first in the Silver Division), Steele Canyon’s Miles Anderson, Eastlake’s Daniel Williams and Valhalla’s Austin Ash.

The 13-0 was a personal best for Williams, who entered the meet having cleared 11-6 this season along with teammates Diego Esparza and Nick Herrera.

Eastlake’s Korin Chapman finished second in the girls pole vault at 9-6. She set a personal record at 11-0 at the preceding weekend’s Jaguar Invitational.

Jumping jacks
The boys high jump featured notable performances by the section’s two leaders: Bonita Vista’s Branden Greene and Sweetwater’s Spencer Curtis.

Greene entered the meet with a section-leading height of 6-8; Curtis was ranked second at 6-4.

Greene won the Blue Division title by negotiating 6-6 while Curtis eased over the bar at 6-4 to finish second.

Greene has set a goal of clearing 7-0 this spring, and he’s already come close, according to BV jumps coach Joe Sheffield.

“At the Mt. Carmel Invitational, he actually cleared 6-10 but hit the bar with his heel,” Sheffield said. “Considering we really don’t have the best facilities to practice on at Bonita Vista, I think he’s done very well.”

This was the third time this season that Greene and Curtis have squared off in the same meet.

“Having competition is always great,” the SuHi jumper said. “I don’t mind losing to someone who’s better than me. It’s better than having no competition at all.”

Curtis also finished with the second-best mark among Blue Division triple jumpers at 41-1.

Fantastic finishes
The Blue Division boys 300 intermediate hurdles featured one of the most hotly contested finishes of the day with Eastlake’s Michael Hendricks (40.50) out-clocking Sweetwater’s Alejandro Garcia (40.60) by one-tenth of a second at the finish line. Hendricks actually fell across the finish line to victory.

Otay Ranch’s Carina Gillespie (No. 1 in the section in the 800-meter run) put on a late burst to win the girls invitational 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:43.50 while Mustang senior Steven Martinez finished second in the boys field in 4:04.72.

Otay Ranch’s Kiera Williams also strode to victory in the girls invitational 300 dash, timing 42.10.

In the boys 4x400 relay, Eastlake (3:32.16) edged Otay Ranch (3:32.54) for second place (behind Steele Canyon) in another bang-bang finish.

Jeramie Smith sped past Otay Ranch’s Michael Barker in the last 50 meters. It marked the second time in the span of three days that the Titans had bested the Mustangs in the event.

Eastlake won the meet-concluding 4x400 event the previous Thursday to put the finishing touches on a 83-73 dual meet victory against visiting Otay Ranch.

It was the first team victory by an Eastlake boys team against the Mustangs since both teams began competing in the Mesa League.

Andrew Johnson, Darran Hall and Hendricks joined Smith in the Titans’ victory circle.

Otay Ranch’s Alyssa Chang (48.40) was third in the girls 300 low hurdles while Bonita Vista’s Parker Brisbois (37.90) was third in the boys 300 dash.

Going the distance
The distance medley relays always are exciting to watch and this year’s field was no exception, featuring numerous lead changes over the course of the race (legs of 1,200, 400, 800 and 1,600 meters).

Sweetwater posted a come-from-behind effort on the last lap to win the boys distance medley in 10:51.23 ahead of runner-up Steele Canyon (10:55.57). Gerrardo Marquillo, Jose Martinez, Carlos Ponce and George Martinez (anchor leg) combined to lead SuHi to victory.

Otay Ranch claimed wins in both the girls 4x800 (9:59.45) and 4x400 (4:07.21) relay events.

Eastlake won the girls 4x200 relay in 1:51.70.
Field generals
Otay Ranch’s Chris Martin posted the top mark in the Blue Division boys long jump (20-8.5) while Mustang teammate Tiana Wood had the top mark in the girls long jump (15-1.75)

Otay Ranch’s Sean Esteban recorded the top boys triple jump mark at 42-1.25

Otay Ranch’s Gary Birtwell also had the top mark in the boys discus throw (145-11).

Sweetwater’s Maria Garcia had the top girls triple jump mark of 33-1.

Soaring Eagles
Olympian’s boys and girls teams put on quite a show in the Silver Division, with both squads earning team trophies.

The Eagles boys team captured first-place finishes in the 4x100 relay (43.63) and 800 medley relay (1:31.50) while posting runner-up finishes in the 4x800 relay (8:52.90) and 4x400 relay (3:28.65).

Isaiah Gibson, Asante Gibson, Harrison Hulin and Sagon Penn comprised the victorious 4x100 relay team.

The Eagles girls team captured first-place finishes in the sprint medley relay (1:50.20) and 4x400 relay (4:04.15) while finishing runner-up in the 4x100 relay (50.36).

Other top division marks went to Olympian’s Daniel Robles (40.10) in the boys 300 dash, Ralaina LiDrazzah (41.70) in the girls 300 dash, Andrew Fukushima (40.90) in the boys 300 IH and Kristina Brown (5-4) in the girls high jump.

Also for the Eagles, Jon Braunesreither (11-0) finished tied for second in the Silver Division boys pole vault. A runner-up finish also went to Olympian’s Sydney Magdalena (45.80) in the girls 300 low hurdles.

An unidentified OHS athlete finished with the No. 2 mark among Silver Division boys triple jumpers at 40-6.

Track attack
Steele Canyon captured team titles in both the Blue Division boys and girls fields, followed by Sweetwater and Otay Ranch, second and third, respectively, in the boys field and Otay Ranch and Eastlake, in that order, in the girls field.

Team scoring was unavailable for the Silver Division.

A computer glitch prevented the proper input of program entries, thus minimizing the availability of individual results, according to Otay Ranch head coach (and meet director) Ian Cumming.

The timing system also went down midway through the meet, causing further complications. Cumming offered profuse thanks to those who came to assist during the snafu.

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