Friday, April 09, 2021

Dublin Distance Fiesta Meet Preview

The most formidable distance meet in Northern California will be a bit different this year due to Covid. Tomorrow's meet will feature athletes from three counties, Alameda, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. 

Although this will be the smallest DDF in many years, the talent pool will still be outstanding and we should still have some great competition.

Below I will attempt to highlight some of the top athletes in the meet.

Girls 800
This will be a potential West Bay Athletic League preview with the top four athletes in this field hailing from the WBAL and more specifically two schools. The fastest entry belongs to SHP senior Luci Lambert who was outstanding during the just-completed XC season. Her official HS PR is 2:19.75 but she is capable of running faster. Her main competition will come from Castilleja sophomore Samira Kennedy. She ran 2:15.56 at last year's Rustbuster Invitational. The other two athletes who will be in the hunt will be Sacred Heart Prep junior Lucy Paynter and Castilleja sophomore, Daniella Henderson.

Boys 800
The top two entries in this field will be El Camino junior Yutaka Roberts (1:56.37) and Archbishop Mitty Taylor Iden. Roberts ran his time as an impressive frosh while racing at the CCS Final. Two other athletes that will also contend are the two Bellarmine runners, Tristan Lalonde and Jack Glanville.

Girls 1600
Lambert is entered in this race as well and has the fastest entry time here. She had an outstanding freshman season qualifying to the CCS final and will have a great opportunity to dip under the 5 minute mark officially in her HS career. Her main competition should come from Albany junior, Sophia Nordenholz who will also be after a PR here near the 5 minute range. El Camino junior Noel Diep will also be in the mix and will not be afraid to go out with the leaders and challenge them for the lead.

Boys 1600
The competition here should be between a herd of Bellarmine runners and one Woodside runner. The Bell crew will include Daniel Vaca, Ryunosuke Yanashita, Ben Callon, Casper Aliaga and Aiden Theocheung. Casey Orton of Woodside should be ready to run in the low 4:20s and see about defeating the already mentioned runners.

Girls 3200
A lot of the entries include athletes entered in multiple events. Both Sophia Nordenholz and Noelle Diep are entered in the 1600 as well as this event. They will both be after fast times here as well as a victory if they double back to this event. Woodside junior Elle Marsyla as well as Mircea Kippes of Adrian Wilcox will attempt to keep up with the leaders in search of a fast time.

Boys 3200
This will be the main event of the meet featuring three of the fastest runners in California. Bellarmine seniors Colin Peattie, Nolan Topper, and Galen Topper are all capable of running in the low 9s and perhaps even dip under. In the history of the sport, there have been two schools that have had 3 athletes run faster than 9 minutes in this event so we may be watching history tomorrow. I will certainly be rooting for them.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Dan Gabor Invitational Preview

Death, taxes, and rain at the Dan Gabor Invitational...” That was the way that last year’s Dan Gabor Invitational meet preview began. Five days later, the world changed and part of that change was the abrupt end of the 2020 track and field season…and the end of all high school sports for the rest of 2020. For a long time it looked like the Dan Gabor Invitational itself wasn’t a certainty, never mind the rain. 

But if you’ve ever read a Dan Gabor Invitational meet preview before, whether it was something that I’ve written, or something written by one of my predecessors, you know that Dan had his own way of doing things. So it makes sense that his meet would stubbornly find a way to be contested as the last meet of 2020 and now as the first meet of 2021.  

Where our traditionally massive gathering of forty schools and two thousand athletes has been significantly downsized this year, the field does not lack for talent at the top. And the smaller number of participants has allowed the meet to add events that in most years, we don’t have time to contest in with so many competitors.  

The track events will kick off with the short hurdle races the first championship heat of the day features 

2019 NCS MOC finalist Amelia Liao of Dublin High School. She will have competition from her teammate Alaina Adamos, who also boasts a 2019 PR under sixteen seconds. Both of these athletes have a chance to set off some early fireworks at tomorrow’s meet.  

The sprint meet will also feature Leila champion, who looked to be one of NCS’ exciting young sprinters, winning the Dan Gabor Invitational 100m run last year as a freshman in a time of 12.45 before the season got derailed. The 100m might be one of the deeper races of the day with three athletes seeded at under 13 seconds. Dublin’s Antonina Fillari owns a PR of 12.78 and will line up to the right of Champion. Leila is entered in the 100m and 200m this weekend, but is only the second seed in the 

200m. Fellow sophomore Cate Peters will run out of lane 4 in that event and has already blasted a 59.07 400m this season. Although she doesn’t have a mark in either the 100m or the 200m, that time validates her seeded marks of 12.95 and 25.87. We should see some great racing tomorrow in the girls’ sprints. 

On the boys’ side, Amador Valley’s Tim Lester holds the top seed times in both the 100m and 200m. Tim’s season got off to a great start in 2020 where as just a sophomore he finished second in the 100m and 6th in the 400m at the Dan Gabor Invitational, going under 51 seconds in the 400m.  

Tim won’t be running the 400m at this year’s meet, but even if he was, he wouldn’t be the top returner. That honor belongs to Dublin’s Manogya Yara who ran 50.78 at last year’s meet, which is still his PR.  

Amador Valley’s Kiana Lum looks to take care of business in the girls’ horizontal jumps with the top seed marks in both the long jump and the triple jump while in the boys’ horizontals Cal High looks to lead the way with Cole Muller coming in with a mark of 21 feet, 6.5 inches from last season and Joel Puthankalam who tripled jumped 43 feet even at the start of last season. Amador Valley’s Jad Khansa had a promising start to the season last year throwing 47 feet, 6 inches in the shot put. He has the top mark in the shot and discus at this year’s meet and will be looking to eclipse 50 feet in the shot put and 140 feet in the discus. Meanwhile, Monte Vista’s Ashley Rosati leads the way in the girls’ shot discus with a mark of 100 feet, 2 inches and Granada, always a power in the women’s throws, has another strong shot putter in Sabrina Mejia who threw 32 feet, 1.5 inches as a sophomore in 2019 and had only one opportunity to throw last year. The girls’ pole vault should be a tight competition as Dublin’s 

Morgan Lee and Robin Han have marks of 10 feet 6 inches and 10 feet 3 inches, while Cal’s Sabrina Contreras sits right behind at 10 feet. It doesn’t appear to be as close on the boys’ side, but we could see an exciting early season jump if Monte Vista’s Cameron Harris is on his game. Harris has jumped 13 feet 6 inches three times in the last two years including his only competition last season.  

The 3200m run will go uncontested this year, but the 1600’s and 800’s will remain strong. Granada’s Shea Hill, coming off of a very strong cross country season looks to lead the way under 5:10, but will be challenged by Monte Vista’s Abby Binder who had a terrific cross country season in her own right and has already run 11:24 this season. Shea will look to double back in the 800m, where she also holds the top mark and in this one it will be a different Monte Vista athlete in pursuit. Mia Rueb, whose PR is just 2 seconds behind Hill’s, will be running fresh and should make for a very entertaining matchup.  

On the boys’ side, Amador Valley’s Euan Houston holds a large edge with his seed time. He is the defending Dan Gabor Invitational 1600m champion, having run 4:18.86 last year in his only 1600m race. Euan validated that performance throughout cross country season, winning four of his five races and breaking fifteen minutes for three miles twice. In the first meet of the season though, seed times don’t always tell the story and there is a strong group of athletes who have run around 4:30 or just under who will be looking to challenge Houston and propel themselves into the upper echelon of local talent. Houston also boasts the second fastest 800m time in the meet, but the slowest time in the field is closer to Euan than Euan is to the leader. Amador Valley’s John Lester took the nation by storm last year repeatedly running impressive times despite the pandemic. He ran the nation’s leading time in the 800m crushing a high level field in a time of 1:48.26 in Arizona, followed that up by running another 1:48 on a negative split on the Amador Valley track, and for good measure drove up to Eugene, Oregon and beat a high quality mile field in a time of 4:06.97. John won last year’s Dan Gabor Invitational in a time of 1:52.06 and will be looking for an even stronger opener tomorrow evening.  

Despite the meet being smaller than usual, I think Dan Gabor would have been very happy to see his meet go on this year and last without interruption and to see the quality of the athletes running in his meet. The show may not be quite the same as usual, but there will still be a show. It is about 85 degrees as I write this and hit 88 degrees yesterday, but wouldn’t you know, the forecast is showing a 10% chance of rain on Saturday. So if history is any indicator pack your umbrellas because we know that we can always rely on death, taxes, and rain at the Dan Gabor Invitational.  

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Elite Female Distance Runners in CCS

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Elite Male Distance Runners in CCS

The top 7/8 contenders in 800, 1600 and 3200. Please comment below on any runners that I may have missed.

Friday, March 12, 2021

North Monterey County coach Gus Ibarra steps down as head XC and TF coach

My interview with Coach Ibarra from 2008 as well as a letter from Coach Ibarra himself below. 

Dear Condor Country!

As I step down from being a head coach, I just wanted to take a minute and thank you all for your support and involvement in Condor Cross Country and Track and Field over the past 20 years at North Monterey County High School.
It has been a true pleasure to work with all of you and I am so very grateful to all who have given so much to the school and the students. It truly takes a village.
I first want to thank my wife who has been my greatest supporter and encouraged me all along the way. I certainly could not have coached that long without her unwavering support.
I want to thank my own kids for embracing Condor sports and being involved which made being a dad-coach a true highlight in my life.
A huge thanks to NMC pioneer coaches who established programs at the school that were the envy of the area and gave me the opportunity when I was young. Roger O’Sullivan, Keith Condon, Bruce White, Jess Soliven, John Simpson, and others paved the way and are the heart of the school. They continue being some of the biggest fans and mentors we have.
A very special thanks to the dozens and dozens of coaches we have had over the years. Your passion and willingness to give your all for the kids inspires me. There are way too many to name but I especially want to thank Ricardo Mendoza for carrying a very heavy load as a co-head coach in track and field for many years and keeping the tradition alive and well.
I want to thank all of the NMC staff who have supported and encouraged our kids to soar! Principals such as Don Pedroni and Steve Hirt and Athletic Directors such as Roger O’Sullivan and the late Al Ferreira are to be recognized and thanked by our great community for all of their years of service to NMCHS and their unwavering support. And thanks to all the teachers and support staff who have cheered our students on and have given hours upon hours of service at our 3 ring circus events.
I want to thank all of the parents and volunteers who have given so much to make our teams and events truly one-of-a-kind. Your Condor spirit and love for the athletes is humbling. I especially want to thank Russ and his late wife Cindy Tsukimura. Their love, passion, and support has been something that has blessed thousands. Thank you!!!
Last but not least, I want to thank the thousands of athletes who have participated in our programs and have made our teams very special. Watching you grow from baby Condors to full soaring adult Condors is what it’s been all about! My greatest joys come from seeing you go off to greater and bigger things and watching you be successful in life! Your families and joys make me happy. Keep soaring Condors! Special thanks to all the alumni Condors who have come back to give back as volunteers and coaches. You are what sets us apart and will be our future.
Finally, although I am not a head coach, I will be one of your biggest fans and will continue to help as much as I can and cheer you on!!
Once a Condor, always a Condor!!
Coach Ibarra

Thursday, March 11, 2021

California Powerhouse Distance Programs

I asked a few coaches about who they would list among the elite teams all-time in California and the result was the article below. Check out what NorCal teams were included. If you feel like some schools should have been mentioned as well, feel free to add them in the comment section below.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

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