Thursday, May 21, 2009

2009 North Coast Section Redwood Empire Track and Field Meet preview...


Welcome to the 2009 North Coast Section (NCS) Redwood Empire Track & Field Championships. The meet is being held on Saturday, May 23, 2009 at Santa Rosa High School. The NCS Redwood Empire Sub Section consists of the following four leagues:

    § Humboldt Del-Norte League (HDNL)
    § Marin County Athletic League (MCAL)
    § North Bay League (NBL)
    § Sonoma County League (SCL)

The full NCS consists of:

    § Bay Shore
    § Class A
    § Redwood Empire
    § Tri Valley

This year, the NCS Redwood Empire has a cadre of very high level track & field athletes, many amongst the best in the North Coast Section and the entire state of California. Qualifiers from each of the NCS Sub Section meets will move onto next week's NCS MOC held at Cal Berkeley's Edwards Stadium. This year, each of the four Redwood Empire leagues were allotted 6 entries per event. Thus, there are a total of 24 entrants in each event (more/less depending on at-large entries and scratches). From each field event, the top 7 athletes will advance to NCS MOC. In all of the running events except the 1600m and 3200m, there will be three heats. The winner of each heat plus the next four fastest marks will advance. In the 1600m, there are two heats with the top two in each heat plus next three times advancing and the 3200m is one heat with the top 7 advancing. This meet has become more of a qualifier meet with the heats spread out resulting in a loss of key head to head battles amongst the NCS Redwood Empire's best athletes. Winning one's heat and/or running a fast time is critical for advancement to NCS MOC.


4x100 Meters
On the girls' side, Petaluma (SCL Champion), Redwood (MCAL Champion), Healdsburg (2nd in SCL), Montgomery (NBL Champion), Piner (2nd in NBL), and Tamalpais (2nd in MCAL) look to be the top teams overall. Several teams are within one second of each other, so good exchanges and runs through the finish line will be critical. For the Boys, the SCL teams are favored with Petaluma and Healdsburg clocking sub 44 in their league meets. Novato, Redwood, Cardinal Newman, Rancho Cotate, and Maria Carrillo all look to have strong shots at advancement as well with sub 44 second clockings possible for many teams.

100 Meters
The amazing Tamalpais Frosh Lilla McMillian is a definite favorite coming into the meet being the MCAL Champion and having key wins in a host of league meets and bigger invitationals this season. However, there are a myriad of other very swift ladies who will be in the hunt as well for key slots and fast times with a mid-12 second clocking likely needed this year to advance. Kelsey Dunbar (Petaluma with a 12.55 PR), Claire Bingham (Healdsburg SCL Champ), Mallorie Franco (HDNL Champ), and Alyssa Page (just a Soph from Montgomery) have all cracked the 13 second barrier and there will be a nice battle for the coveted top 7 advancing slots. On the boys' side of things, Dante Fountain, the defending NCS RE Champ looks for a potential run to the State Meet this year. The senior from Healdsburg has been setting the track ablaze this spring with several sub 11 second clockings. Look for the MCAL Champ Evan Meehan (JR) of Novato to grab a coveted top slot as well. Then, it could be pretty wide open for other advancing slots, with tenths of seconds mattering a lot to move on.

200 Meters
Lilla McMillian does double duty individually here but will definitely be pressed by a host of great 100m and 400m sprinters. The 200m brings together a classic battle of the short vs. the long sprinter. Emily Hunt of Petaluma has a sub 26 clocking to her resume and her teammate Kelsey Dunbar is the SCL champ. Don't discount Lindsay Bedard of Redwood, the Montgomery dynamic duo of Allyssa Page and Christen Chalmers (both Sophs), and the new gal on the scene Dezirae Johnson of Piner. For the boys, Dante Fountain should get the nod as the favorite, but there is amazing cast of 200m sprinters this year, including his SCL cohort of Sean Sullivan of Petaluma, Dante's teammate Thomas Kozel, Ryan Healy the MCAL champ, and Evan Meehan. All have run in the low to mid 22 seconds this season and running through the line will be critical for a top time in one of the three heats.

400 Meters
Lindsay Bedard (Redwood) is the defending Champion with a sub 60 second run at MCALs last weekend emerges as a favorite in this event. Along with Lindsay, the twin Freshmen powers of Dezirae and Kyra Johnson of Piner both bring strong credentials to the one lap perusal of Santa Rosa High (they are in separate heats). Kelsey Dunbar (Petaluma) looks to be tripling in the 100m, 200m, and 400m individually (perhaps for a run for team points) and should be right there as well depending on how well she can expend her energy across the events. Ryan Healy of Redwood should blaze the single loop around the track as he currently is ranked highly in both the NCS and the entire state. He also owns the #3 all-time MCAL mark at 48.87. Blaire White of Marin Catholic, the defending NCS RE champ, though will be a strong challenger after his sub 50 clocking last weekend. David Tange of Petaluma has a sub 51 showing to his feet and will be a top competitor. Each athlete is the top competitor in their respective heats.

800 Meters
This race should belong to Emily Livingston (Redwood), the defending champ and a State Meet qualifier last year and hungry to finish off her senior year in style. A host of gals have run in the low 2:20 range so fast heats will be essential for moving on to next week. The incomparable Lockert twins of Petaluma are the favorites in the boys along with Andrew Zellman (Ukiah), Alec Govi (Marin Catholic, MCAL Champ), Dan Milechman (incredible Soph from Tamalpais), and Aaron Mendle (Redwood). With the three heats and fast times essential for qualifying, look for a bevy of sub 2:00 clockings.

1600 Meters and 3200 Meters
The distances on the girls and boys side is incredibly strong. We have Jacque Taylor (Casa Grande, 2nd in the State Meet in 1600m last year) and Theresa Devine (Marin Catholic) leading the way for the girls. Lauren Curtin (of the storied Maria Carrillo distance program) and frosh Amber Peirsol of Windsor should be in the mix for qualifying slots. For the boys, Sterling Lockert is attempting a triple for team points (800m, 1600m, and 3200m), but will be up there in each event. The Santa Rosa boys Rory McLeod and Reesey Beyers have been strong all season. Then, you only have one of the top runners not only in the state, but the entire nation with Erik Olson, a junior of Novato, just focusing on the 3200m here. Last week, he ran an incredible solo 4:09 1600m in the extreme heat to go along with his earlier in the season 8:55 3200m mark. Dan Milechman (Tam) should be in the mix in the 1600m. In the 3200m, look for Peter Kissin (Redwood) and Alec Govi (Marin Catholic) to have a good shot at the top 7. With a long road ahead for the top athletes (NCS MOC and the State Meet), some might be content with just running to qualify as opposed to putting up a big mark.

100m/110m Hurdles and 300m Hurdles
Claire Bingham (Healdsburg) is the class of the field in the hurdles with the only sub 16 second clocking thus far this season. Petaluma's Emily Hunt and the HDNL fantastic short hurdlers of Kendall Martin of Eureka and Heather Morris of Fortuna making their way south are the top short hurdlers on the girls side. Kyra Johnson (just a frosh from Piner), Kaliee Cool (Analy), and Clair Bingham (Healdsburg) are the clear standouts in each heat in the long hurdles. For the boys, David Namnath (Terra Linda) has had an incredible season and will duel it out with Chris McCloskey (Santa Rosa, always a strong hurdling program). Healdsburg's Eric Arneson and Drake's Jacob Miller-Vasquez are fine hurdlers as well. There are a host of other guys who have run in the 15 second range so the one who makes the least mistakes in each heat will have the slight edge. On the long side, Namnath and McCloskey will fight it out in the same heat, while Jeremy Thompson (Maria Carrillo) and Eric Arneson (Healdsburg) lead their respective heats with sub 40 second showings. It will come down to handles those final two hurdles and who tires out the least down the stretch for the key advancing spots.

4x400 Meters
Always the most exciting event in track & field as we close out the afternoon of racing, the 4x400m has such rich traditions and memorable battles. For the girls, Maria Carrillo (who always puts strong relay teams together), Drake and Santa Rosa (with storied histories as well), Montgomery, and Tamalpais will all vie for top slots. For the boys, there are only two heats so look for some good head to head battles to ensue. Redwood (anchored by Ryan Healy), Drake, Petaluma, Healdsburg, and Marin Catholic will be in the running for relay king honors.

Triple Jump
The top MCAL duo of Madeline Steger (Novato) and Nan Fader (Redwood) had a stellar competition last weekend and look to renew their hop, skip, and jump-a-thon this weekend. They were separated by a scant two inches, with Steger getting the slight distance last weekend. Sonoma's Anna Dwyer has uncorked a 36-06 mark though this season, easily outdistancing the next competitor in terms of incoming marks. For the boys, look for Drake senior Jacob Miller-Vasquez, Matt Eglehoff of Rancho Cotate, Robert Kline of Novato, and Ryan Dieckman of Sonoma to be the frontrunners.

Long Jump
We have a few strong girls who have jumped over 16 feet this season in their league champs and should be battling it out, including Brittany Chown (McKinleyville), Melanal Llopis (Santa Rosa), and Nan Fader (Redwood). Jamie Watanabe (Healdsburg) has gone 16-07 this season as well. The boys contest appears to be a fairly wide open affair with a host of jumpers hovering in the 20 to 21 foot range. The talented sprinter Dante Fountain of Healdsburg though has the best incoming mark.

Discus and Shot Put
Rhiannon Roper of Fortuna went over 35 feet in the HDNL meet, coming in with the leading Shot Put mark. Several gals have thrown in the lower 30 foot range, with Monica White of Tamalpais and Elaine Weaver of Casa Grande being in the mix. In the discus, look for Heather Keola (Sonoma), Amber Seira (Montgomery), Jennifer Decicio (Terra Linda), Rhiannon Roper (Fortuna), Colleen Noonan (Santa Rosa), and Cady Gambrell (Fortuna) who have all thrown over the magical 100 foot barrier. The sophomore throwing marvel Mauricio Cornejo has been great all season, though Redwood's sophomore Sam Perrella put up a near 50 foot throw last weekend to score a huge PR and take first place honors. The senior men Joshua Forrey (Petaluma) and Troy Baker (Santa Rosa) both went over 50 feet last weekend. There are a host of great discus throwers this season in the NCS RE with many surpassing the 140 foot barrier. Look for Loren Brock (El Molino), Troy Baker (Santa Rosa), Christian Diaz (Maria Carrillo), and Mauricio Cornejo (Terra Linda) to compete for top discus honors.

High Jump
The high jump is really loaded this year in both the girls and boys with several high jumpers over the 5 and 6 foot marks, respectively. For the girls, Montgomery's Luisa McInnis, Fortuna's Mallorie Franco, and San Rafael's Paige Roberts all went 5-02 to win their respective league titles last weekend. On the boys side, Mike Tracy of Windsor (6-06 last weekend), Jared Pizzo of Redwood at 6-04, and Beau Cowan of Marin Catholic (also 6-04) lead the way, with David Crosse of Drake, after his 6-02 PR last week, also in the mix.

Pole Vault
There is some nice talent in the girls and boys pole vault this year. Michelle Stone has vaulted into a new level this season, having gone 11-01 already. Then, you have the MCAL Champion Paige Niesyn who has gone 10-06. After those girls, several have cleared the 9 foot barrier and should be in the running for the top 5 remaining spots. The boys are unbelievable, leading the way not only in NCS but also being amongst the best in the State. Cody Cunnington (DR) emerges as the clear favorite, having gone over 15 feet several times this season. Following him, we have a host of great boys who have cleared 13 feet, including Taylor Duncan (of the always strong Del Norte PV program), Charles Smith-Steward (Marin Catholic), and Andrew Aviles (Cardinal Newman). This is one NOT to be missed as these vaulters literally push each other to stratospheric heights.

Jason Jacobson (San Rafael HS Track and Field coach)

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