Saturday, May 30, 2009

Catching up with Gunn HS coach Ernie Lee...

Today's interview is with the head coach of Gunn HS, Ernie Lee. Gunn finished in 2nd place as a team in the girl's competition just behind CCS Champions Leland HS. Besides his balanced girls' team that scored points in multiple events (running and field), Gunn also qualified boys in the 100/200, 3200 and high jump in the CCS Finals. Ernie has also coached several individual and team CCS champions in cross country. Ernie can be seen pictured to the left, closely trailing a teammate, competing during his high school years for the same team he now coaches.

1) How did you get started in the sports of track and field and cross country? What other sports did you do during your youth?
I started running track and cross country in middle school, but started out as a sprinter and a jumper. As I got older, I stopped getting faster so I just kept moving up in distance. I didn't do any other sports seriously, just a few years of Little League baseball.

2) When did you first realize that you might want to get into coaching?
By the end of high school, I thought that it would be fun to come back and coach, but I didn't consider it seriously until after college. Every year, Gunn has an Alumni cross country race and when I came back and ran in it my first year of grad school, Coach Hal Daner asked if I wanted to help out with the cross country team. It sounded like fun so I agreed to do it.

3) How long have you been at Gunn HS as an assistant and head coach?
I began as a volunteer assistant in the fall of 1994. I took over as head coach in 2001.

4) Hal Daner was the longtime head coach at Gunn HS and is currently the weight coach for your team. Tell us a little about his influence on the Gunn Hs track and cross country teams.
Hal Daner has been a tremendous influence on me both as a coach and as a person. He was the one who established the tone and the philosophy of the team, and I have just continued it. Simply put, everything we do is focused on providing a positive experience for every kid on the team.

5) Besides Hal, what other coaches have had an influence on your coaching and that you considered as role models?
Hank Lawson (the current Lynbrook coach) was my distance coach in high school and, for better or worse, his personality has definitely influenced mine. My college coach, Larry Ellis, showed me how running can teach life lessons and also how a coach should treat his athletes.

In terms of training, we basically follow a Jack Daniels-style approach (lots of pace work and tempos with almost everything based on current race paces). I also borrow a lot from Joe Rubio of the Asics Aggies, especially in terms of ramping up training after a break (returning from injury, for example).

I'm also a pretty big leech of ideas from other current coaches. I try to attend as many clinics as I can. I pick the brains and "talk shop" with everyone I can. I've gotten great advice from Paul Jones over at Paly in terms of managing over-committed Palo Alto overachievers. Willie Harmatz has been very generous in sharing workout ideas geared towards 800 runners. Discussions with Evan Smith from Mountain View have helped me plan out team-oriented goals. I've blatantly copied Aptos' Dan Gruber's approach to off-season training.

6) Describe some of your accomplishments as a cross country and track coach as well as some of your most memorable highlights.
I'm most proud of the fact that for many of my former athletes, running has remained a part of their lives. Although we haven't had a lot of kids competing in college, there have been a large number who have completed marathons or who continue to participate in road races. On our track staff this season, four of our coaches are Gunn alums and two were athletes that I had coached. Several other former athletes are coaching or have coached at other schools.

7) Gunn HS had over 200 track members this past season. What do you think are key reasons that attracted so many students to the track and field team?
Well, freshmen and sophomores can get out of PE by doing a sport and track is a non-cut sport. That said, we do focus on a "family" style social team that appeals to a lot of kids.

8) From your beginning as a new coach to now, in what areas do you feel like you have changed as a coach?
Over the years, I've pushed more and more responsibility onto the kids. They handle completely things like team t-shirts and pasta feeds. Invitational meets are all optional and they have to tell me if they want to compete in them. I've also stopped bringing extra uniforms to meets. So if a kid forgets their uniform, then they have to borrow one one their own or they don't compete. So basically, I've just gotten lazy in my old age.

9) You had numerous distance runners in the CCS finals. What do you think are the key reasons for the success of those athletes?
Far and away, the key reason for the success is the kids themselves. We are very lucky to have a large group of motivated and compassionate runners. The leaders on the team, particularly seniors Allegra Mayer and Tara Saxena, have created an atmosphere where the kids not only enjoy being on the team and hanging out together, but also want to push themselves and each other to be the best runners they can. During most hard workouts, many kids ask to run more and are disappointed when we cut them off.

Also important is the influence of our distance coach, Matt Tompkins. He devised all the workouts for the 1600-3200 runners and is particularly good at planning race strategy. He also relates very well to the kids (he's the young, crazy, emotional coach while I'm the old, serious, calm one).

10) Tell us a little about your involvement at the state level in both sports.
For several years, I was on the State Advisory Committee for cross country and track and field. That gave me an appreciation for the hard work and effort folks like Hal Harkness put forth for the betterment of the sport. It also showed me what it takes to get things changed (like at-large qualifying to the state meet in track) and understanding why certain processes must be followed.

11) What would be your best pieces of advice for a new coach?
Don't be afraid to show your enthusiasm. Maybe not right away, but the kids will respond.

Thank you very much for your time Ernie!  AJC

Interview with Erik Olson courtesy of

Early Results from NCS Meet of Champions...

Catching up with San Mateo's Kendall Spencer...

I thought I would move up the interview I did with Kendall Spencer, this past January, following his three victories last night at the CCS meet in the 100, 200 and LJ. Spencer also led San Mateo HS to a 2nd place finish as a team with the 30 point he accumulated in his three victories.

Also, here are a couple of articles from today's papers covering his exploits from yesterday.

San Mateo's Spencer is 3-time winner
(SF Chronicle)

Spencer takes three CCS events (San Mateo County Times)

Today we chat with San Mateo senior, Kendall Spencer who had quite a season last year. Largely unknown to most track fans before the season, Spencer won the 100m. and long jump and finished 2nd in the 200m. at the '08 CCS meet. His victory in the long jump was with a margin of victory of close to a foot over the 2nd. place finisher and an impressive 23'6.5" mark. With his state meet experience last year, Spencer is gunning for more this year as you will see by his goals for this season.

1) What sports have you played?
Wow that's a big one. I've competed in :Taekwondo, wrestling, football, track, hip=hop dance .

2) How did you decide to get involved in Track and Field?
Well track has always been on my mind. I ran in middle school and when I got to high school I just wrestled and played football up until my sophomore year. When my friend got injured and Coach Riley saw me practicing and asked if I had thought about the program.

3) What was the reason you decided to give up football?
Giving up football during my senior year was the hardest sacrifice I've ever made but a lot of my coaches, mentors and parents told me that I should go and perfect my gift. Despite how stubborn I was at first, I decided to roll with it and during that time I focused on things like academics, strength training etc.

4) When did you first realize that you could be pretty good in track?
Let's see the first...haha I'd say serra top 7 at the end of my sophomore year. I hadn't had any previous training on jumps and i popped up to 20ft and then in the100m I didn't use blocks because i didn't know how and I won the race which was a great experience.

5) Favorite event? Favorite meet? Favorite competitor? Favorite workout? Least favorite workout (although it's good for you anyway)?
My favorite event : Long Jump. Favorite meet: Serra Top7. Favorite Competitor: Jahvid Best. Favorite Workout: sled pulls. Least favorite worlout:300's (anyone that's ever worked with me will tell you how much I hate these things but they help so much ).

6) Tell us a little about your coach and what he has meant to you in your progression to the runner you are today.
We've got an awesome coaching staff. Coach Michon and Coach Anderson have both inspired me to be the best and at the same time make practice fun. My head coach Ed Riley has in a way played the role of a godparent almost when my parents aren't around or when I'm training he acts like a father to me whether it's checking consistently on my grades or making sure I'm on time. He's really looked out for me in that way and has ALWAYS made sure I had what I needed. He takes such a good care of his athletes and others as well even though i can't stand 300's and he loves them. I'm willing to do them because I trust him and I know he'd only do things that would help me out.

7) Tell us a little about your first state meet experience. How will it help you this season?
hhaah state was fun just like everywhere I go. I try and have fun and at the same time compete to the level demanded . State was a whole different ball game as I've never been surrounded by so many top athletes. I was able to befriend top athletes like Vashti Thomas, David Henderson, Nelson of El Camino who all helped me in such a way that I even picked up a few training methods while down there. It was a great experience. I went there and performed and because I'm still pretty new at this there's so much I'm going to improve on. That its what I'm training for so this year's going to be exciting .

8) What have you done different this year in preparation for this coming season?
I've done so many things different this year everything from strength traing to eliminating distractions from my training.One thing is I went to a few clinics and met with some coaches who are gonna point me in the right direction and this year I'm debating to train with a track club in san jose for an indoor track season its my last year and I'd like to go out the right way.

9) What are some of your goals for this coming season?
Goals this year are specific marks. I try not to focus on places because if you hit the marks you want then everything will take care of itself: Long jump- consistent 24ft-25ft,100m-10.5 and 200m 21.3.

10) Who have been your role models in the sport (could be on your team, other teams, professional athletes etc.)?
On my team there's even people that I look up to that work hard Jon Ocon, Louis Dressel. Other athletes like Jahvid Best and Bismark Navarro. Professionally I look at Walter Dix and Carl Lewis.

11) A student is undecided about doing track. What would your advice to him or her be? Why should they try out track?
To someone not sure, I'd tell them that I was in their same position at one point and track is alot more then the 300's or long hill runs. You meet an amazing amount of people and expose yourself to diversity like no other sport. Coming from someone whose done an immense amount of athletics, it's great to say that track is such a benefit health wise and for networking. I've become closer to people in the track arena and my team especially more then anywhere else and you can travel and see this amazing land we've been blessed with Go for it!(stay humble).

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Just to every athlete out there to just have fun with it and don't forget the reason why you train and compete. Don't let anyone look down on you because you're young, undersized or inexperienced but you can do anything you set your mind to and no one can tell you otherwise. Be humble and set an example for others.

Thank you very much Kendall! AJC

Friday, May 29, 2009

Real Time CCS Results link/Twitter link...

I will also be at the meet and will some results on twitter at the following link:

Best of luck to all athletes tonight in Gilroy HS.

Few articles before CCS/NCS/SJS meets today at Gilroy HS...

Can Padres finally win the big one? (San Mateo Daily News-San Mateo County athletes competing at CCS...scroll down)

Gilroy's best hope for glory (

New faces take big stage at CCS championships ( area athletes)

Dragons send 14 to NCS ‘Meet of Champions’

Track Dragons face NCS best in MOC today, Saturday at UC Berkeley

Masters meet next up for state leaders Sutter, Landry

Merced County's best throwers take aim at section track meet

Lodi leaper raises bar

Wolves run for glory (

Local athletes up for Section Masters (

Track and Field dominates Prep of Week selections

Bruins, Miners on their marks at Masters
( valley)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Section Track and Field Meet Predictions

How well do you know the teams and/or athletes in Northern California? Are you very familiar a particular section? Then this is your chance to predict the state meet qualifiers from the following sections: Central Coast Section (CCS), North Coast Section (NCS) and San Joaquin Section (SJS).

If you would like to take part in the CCS/NCS/SJS prediction contest, send in your predictions to Please include the top 3/4 finishers (depending on the section) for all events (running and field/boys and girls) as well as your predictions for the team champions along with their scores. If there is a tie, the team champions and scores will break those ties.

Entries are due by midnight, Thursday May 28th for CCS and 10AM, Saturday May 30th for the NCS and SJS.

Your entries should look like this
Name: John Aki Bua Uganda HS Athlete (or coach/parent etc.)

Listed in order of finish (1st through 3rd)
Girls' 400m. Relay-James Logan, Long Beach Poly, St. Francis
Boys' 400m. Relay-
Girls' 1600m.-Jordan Hasay, Mary Decker, Yunxia Qu
Boys' 1600m.-
Girls' 100m. Hurdles-
Boys' 110m. Hurdles-
Don't forget the field events.

Let me know if you have any questions or have any suggestions for the contest.

The winner will be announced on Sunday, May 31st.

Here are a couple of newspaper articles that might help you with your predictions:

Getting ready for state track and field meet
(SF Chronicle)

Locals take first place at CCS track and field semifinals

Gunn leads local qualifiers for CCS track championships
Titans advanced nine athletes in 12 events for the section finals (Palo Alto online)

Balers 4x400 team clocks top time in section, advances to CCS Finals (

CCS track: Several Mariners, MVC's Mazerik make finals (Register-Pajarionian)

Boys' track advances two athletes to CCS finals (Palo Alto online)

5 Warriors advance to Meet of Champs (

Petaluma Redwood Empire track champion with both boys and girls (

Girls prep of the week: Lindsay Bedard (
Boys prep of the week: Evan Meehan (

Tracy athletes at Sac-Joaquin Track and Field today in Sacramento (

Sutter, Alviso, Feulner and Zingheim on course for state meet(

More Folsom athletes qualify for Masters track and field meet (

Holt, Crosta to battle again in 3200-meter run(

Sights set on State

Patriots hopeful, realistic about Masters Meet (

Sophomore has high hopes at Masters meet (

Riverbank Rises To The Section Challenge

Ten local track athletes headed to Masters Meet (

Saturday, May 23, 2009

NCS and CCS Results

North Coast Section
NCS Class A Meet Results (Top 3 advance)

NCS Tri-Valley Meet Results (Top 7 advance)

TRACK & FIELD-Wheeler tries to get healthy while advancing (SF Chronicle)

NCS Redwood Empire Meet Results (Top 7 advance)
Link to pictures from the Redwood Empire Meet

Windsor's Tracy dazzles at Empire Track and Field Championships

NCS Bay Share Meet Results (Top 7 advance)

Logan's Brewer wins triple with personal best (

NCS track finals: Novato's Olson, Marin Academy's McCullough lead the way (

Central Coast Section
CCS Semi-finals Meet Results (Advancers noted from each event)

CCS Track and Field Trials: County's girls begin youth movement (

Prader prepares to vault against section's best (Monterey County The Herald)

More Newspaper Stories to follow tomorrow...

What was the most impressive performance at all the meets above?

Predictions will be coming forward this week on who will represent each section at the state meet. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comment box below.

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)

CCS Semi-Final Heats posted...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The road to the state meet for Northern California Athletes...

Here is all the information and links for the upcoming section meets that will mostly take place this weekend. The weather will thankfully cooperate in that we won't have the same searing heat we had this same time last year.

I will add the venues, dates and times for the section finals once we are past all the qualifying meets.

Trials at Gilroy HS (Saturday, May 23rd)
Link to meet information can be found at:

Class A Meet at Montgomery HS (Saturday, May 23rd)
Meet information can be found here:

Redwood Empire Area Track Meet at Santa Rosa HS (Saturday, May 23rd)
Meet information can be found here:

Tri Valley Area Track Meet at Granada HS (Saturday, May 23rd)
Meet information can be found here:

Bay Shore Area Track Meet at Castro Valley HS (Saturday, May 23rd)
Meet information can be found here:

Division I Meet at
1. Trials - Thursday, May 21, 2009 @ Hughes Stadium (Sacramento City College), Sacramento
2. Finals - Friday, May 22, 2009 @ Hughes Stadium (Sacramento City College), Sacramento
Meet information can be found here:

Division II Meet at
1. Trials - Wednesday, May 20, 2009 @ Bella Vista High School
2. Finals - Friday, May 22, 2009 @ Bella Vista High School
Meet information can be found here:

Division III Meet at
1. Trials - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 @ Modesto Junior College, Modesto
2. Finals - Thursday, May 21, 2009 @ Modesto Junior College, Modesto
Meet information can be found here:

All City Trials at Kezar on Wednesday, May 27th
All City Finals at Kezar on Saturday, May 30th
Section information can be found at the following link:

Division 2 Meet at Wheatland HS
Meet program can be found at the following link:


The meet will be held at Castlemont High School Wednesday, May 27th and Thursday, May 28th. The field events will begin at 3pm and running at 4pm.

From the section finals, the following at large berth marks will be used for those athletes that are not among the state meet qualifiers places.

2009 Track and Field At Large Marks Link

Saturday, May 16, 2009

MCAL Meet Story from today's league final

From Marin IJ

Prep track and field: Both Redwood teams triumph at league championship meet

Thanks to San Rafael coach Jason Jacobson for the following recap

The MCAL Track & Field Finals was held today at Redwood High School. Field event finals in the long jump, shot put, and pole vault were contested. All the running events were finals today. It has incredibly hot for the athletes today. So hot in fact that the photographs for the Auto Timing actually melted at one point causing a need for a change in devices. Easily in the 90 degrees and hotter on the turf and the track, the MCAL athletes handled the weather conditions extremely well. There was virtually no wind to speak of.

There were a ton of highlights across all the events. The MCAL is incredibly deep in several events it is quite remarkable what marks were needed just to advance out of our league this year!

--Erik Olson ran an amazing 1600m. Out fast from the gun with near even splits the entire way, he blazed an incredible 4:09.60. This is the Number 2 All-Time MCAL mark in the 1600m. Dan Milechman, the intrepid and gutsy sophomore talent from Tamalpais did his best to stay on his heels for as long as possible, but Erik is in another stratosphere right now. It took a time of 4:29 in the oppressive heat just to qualify for next weekend's NCS Redwood Empire. Erik then came back and easily won the 3200m with a time of 9:23.30.

--On the girls side, Theresa Devine, another Junior, of Marin Catholic began her potential journey to Fresno with easy wins in the 1600m (5:22) and 3200m (11:51). She looked incredibly strong and smooth, unpressed the entire way in the unrelenting heat.

--Lilla McMillan, just a Freshman of Tamalpais was completely dominant in the sprint showing everyone else her heels from the gun. She decimated with the fields in the 100m (12.56) and 200m (25.83) and looks to be an extremely strong force come NCS and beyond. Lindsay Bedard of Redwood went sub 60 in the 400m to win (59.76), then came back to place 2nd to Lilla in the 200m (26.31).

--Ryan Healey is looking on this State Meet form, not only winning the High Jump on Thursday, but running heroic efforts and winning stacked 400m (49.32) and 200m (22.27). Blaire White of Marin Catholic was on his heels with a sub 50 clocking too (49.96). In the 200m, Ryan outdistanced Novato sprint sensation Evan Meehan, winner of the 100m. Evan nearly dipped sub 11 with a fine time of 11.01. Evan went 22.56 in the 200m. It took 51.78 to make it out of the MCAL in the 400m this year!

--Emily Livingston took on one of the hardest doubles with a 2nd in the 400m (60.08) and then came back to run a strong controlled 800m and secure first place (2:21). It took 62 seconds to move onto NCS Redwood Empire in the gals 400m this year.

--There was a ton of yelling at the Shot Put ring with the boys in particular putting up some immense marks. Two incredible sophomores, Sam Perrella of Redwood and Mauricio Cornejo of Terra Linda had an epic back and forth battle with puts of 49-08.50 and 49-01.50, respectively.

--The boys in the pole vault are amazing this year. Cody Cunnington of Drake, who had to run in the 100m finals in the middle of his vaulting, still went sky high for 15-00" and the win.

--David Namnath of Terra Linda was in another dimension in the hurdles. He attacked both races with such aggression, leaving tons of room between him and his nearest competitors. He is now firmly on the NCS map as one to reckon with, in line with such an incredible rich tradition of TL hurdlers. He is more than just carrying the Trojan torch, he is lighting his own on fire. He ran 15.33 (110mHH) and 39.94 (300mIH) (#6 AT MCAL).

--Drake continues to produce impressive 4x400m Relay teams in the girls year after year. In a near wire to wire win, they ran a stellar 4:11, with Tamalpais at 4:13.

--Team-wise, Redwood HS took BOTH the girls and boys titles to go along with their dual meet championships.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

MCAL Preview by Jason Jacobson (San Rafael Coach)


Welcome to the 2009 Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) Track & Field Championships. The meet is being held on Thursday, May 14 (Trials) and Saturday, May 16, 2009 at Redwood High School in Larkspur, California. The MCAL consists of the following ten high schools from the NCS Class A and Redwood Empire Sub Sections:

  • Branson (Class A)
  • Justin Siena (Class A)
  • Marin Catholic (RE)
  • Novato (RE)
  • Redwood (RE)
  • San Marin (RE)
  • San Rafael (RE)
  • Sir Francis Drake (RE)
  • Tamalpais (RE)
  • Terra Linda (RE)

On Thursday, there will be Trials for all the running events except the Boys 4x100m, Girls 4x400m, and Boys and Girls 3200m. Athletes must qualify from their races in the Trials to advance to the Finals on Saturday. The Discus, High Jump, and Triple Jump will be contested as Finals on Thursday with the Long Jump, Pole Vault, and Shot Put on Saturday.

This year, the MCAL 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. Last year was a near banner year for advancing athletes to the State Meet and this year could be even better. There will be epic team and individual battles at the meet with athletes competing with an indelible spirit and heart. Branson and Justin Siena individual athletes who finish in the Top 4 overall and the remaining Redwood Empire school athletes who finish in the Top 6 overall will advance to next weekend's NCS Area Meets. There are also at-large standards for advancement for non-qualifying individuals.


The MCAL awards two team pennants: 1). The Regular Season Dual Meet Champion to the team with the best overall meet record and 2). The MCAL Championship Meet Champion to the team with the best overall score at this meet. During the regular season, The Mighty Giants of Redwood on both the girls and boys sides were incredibly dominant, finishing with unblemished overall records (9-0) and look to be the clear favorites to double up on their pennants in securing a win in the MCAL meet. With a deadly combination of depth and talent, it may simply be a run for Avis Honors at this meet. Drake (8-1 in both the girls and boys), Tamalpais, and Novato will certainly do their best to upset the Giants and depending on how their individuals score and who can best handle double/triple/quadruple event duty, could give them a run for their money. As is often the case, good relay exchanges, extra inches, and tenths of a second will make the difference! Regular Season records were as follows:


Redwood (9-0) Redwood (9-0)

Drake (8-1) Drake (8-1)

Tamalpais (7-2) Novato (7-2)

Novato (6-3) Tamalpais (6-3)

San Marin (5-4) Terra Linda (5-4)

Terra Linda (4-5) Marin Catholic (4-5)

Justin Siena (3-6) Justin Siena (3-6)

Marin Catholic (2-7) San Rafael (2-7)

Branson (1-8) San Marin (1-8)

San Rafael (0-9) Branson (0-9)


4x100 Meters

On the girls' side, Redwood has been dominant all season with an incoming time substantially faster than any other team. Anchored by Lindsay Bedard (400m State qualifier last year as a Soph), look for the Giants to secure their first win opening up the running events on Saturday. The battle for 2nd will definitely come down to the wire with several teams within one second of each other. For the Boys, there will be an incredible battle between Novato, Redwood, and Drake for the overall win. All teams have great storied histories of outstanding 4x100m relay teams and this year looks no different. With the three teams pushing each other, a sub 44 second clocking is possible and should set them up nicely for advancement onto NCS.

100 Meters

While Jessalyn Fitzgerald (SR) of San Rafael is the defending MCAL 100m and 200m champion, a new star has emerged on the scene in the form of Frosh Lilla McMillian of TAM. With big invite wins this season and marks that place her on the MCAL Top 10 list, the newbie might literally run away from it all with a large margin to spare. Several gals have cracked the 13 second barrier and there will be a nice battle for the coveted top 6 advancing slots and valuable team points. Madeline Ewry will be essential for Redwood. On the boys' side of things, Evan Meehan (JR) of Novato has been setting the track on fire this season and stands heads and shoulders above the competition. Don't count out Drake's amazing duo of James Pearlstone or Cody Cunnington who have been a bit under the radar this season and always seem to peak at the right time. Michael Lee has been a nice Sophomore Sensation for Terra Linda and should put the Trojans on the map.

200 Meters

Lilla McMillian does double duty individually here but will definitely be pressed by Lindsay Bedard of Redwood. This will be classic battle of the short vs. the long sprinter with Lillian handling the 100m-200m double and Lindsay the 200m-400m. Ryan Healey (400m State meet qualifier last year) should be able to blast the field here, garnering valuable points for the Giants, while Pearlstone and Meehan will be in the running. Newcomer Jordan Thomas of Branson (JR) is largely unheralded but could pull off a Preakness like upset.

400 Meters

Lindsay Bedard, after qualifying for the State Meet last year, looks to dive well below the 60 second mark at some point this season. She will be greatly challenged though by newcomer Jenna Harris of Branson who has run 60.44 this season. Linda Gill (Branson coach) has brought her along well and is well known for her ability to prime athletes for amazing performances when it counts. Mr. Healy should blaze the single loop around the track as he currently is ranked 2nd in NCS and 26th in the entire state. He also owns the #3 all-time MCAL mark at 48.87. The battle will be for 2nd and other qualifying spots with a host of athletes running in the low 50 to 52 second range.

800 Meters

The girls 800 meters is a bit lighter depth wise than in previous years. This race belongs to Emily Livingston (RED), a State Meet qualifier last year and hungry to finish off her senior year in style. Alec Govi (MC), Dan Milechman (incredible Soph from Tam), and Aaron Mendle (RED) will battle it out for the boys top honors. If they aren't too tired from their previous 1600 meters, a sub 2:00 clocking is very likely.

1600 Meters and 3200 Meters

Theresa Devine (MC) for the girls and Erik Olson (NOV) for the boys are the clear favorites. Amongst the best in NCS and Erik tops in the State (and had led the nation for several weeks in the 3200m), the race is simply for second place and other advancement slots. Both look for first time State Meet berths in Track & Field, so they both have a long road ahead. Erik currently owns the number one time in the entire state and is #2 AT MCAL in the 3200m. Could he challenge the coveted and incomparable Rod Berry's "untouchable" mark??? Don't bet against this incredible, talented, gifted, hard working, and gritty competitor. Perhaps a change in the record books is due to this well deserving kid with the right race. Dan Milechman (Tam) should be in the mix in the 1600m. In the 3200m, Steven Iglehart of Branson in this senior year will be gunning for a top slot along with Peter Kissin (RED) and Alec Govi (MC).

100m/110m Hurdles and 300m Hurdles

Zoe Broad (Branson), Nicole Leighton (Redwood), and Olivia Blackstone (TAM) are the top short hurdlers on the girls side. Madison Sink (RED) and Kennedy McCone (BR) will be there for the long hurdlers. For the boys, David Namnath (TL) has had an incredible season and will be duel it out with Jacob Miller-Vasquez (DR). On the long side, Zephyr Forest of Drake has had an incredible season, leading the way with Namnath providing a strong challenge. This might very well come down to handles those final two hurdles and who tires out the least down the stretch.

4x400 Meters

Always the most exciting event in track & field as we close out the evening of racing, the 4x400m has such rich traditions and memorable battles at MCALs. Redwood, Tamalpais, and Drake should battle for queen honors, while Redwood, Terra Linda, Drake, Justin Siena, and Tamalpais will be in the running for king honors. Team titles may be on the line so look for athletes to leave every final ounce of themselves out on the track for their final races of the evening.

Triple Jump

On Thursday, three girls, Madeline Steger (NOV), Nan Fader, and Lizzy Baumsteiger (DR) will battle it out in the hop, skip, and jump. For the boys, look for Drake senior Jacob Miller-Vasquez to jump away from the field, though Freshman phenom Jesse Butler (TAM) and Robert Kline (NOV) will be trying to get valuable team points.

Long Jump

Nan Fader of Redwood looks to potentially double up her jump wins. She comes in with a jump over one foot longer than any other competitor. The long jump is another strong event in MCALs this season with a host of boys who have gone past the 20 foot barrier. Perhaps more than any other event, this one is wide open and each attempt and catching the infamous Redwood swirling winds will be critical.

Discus and Shot Put

The Giants should gain an edge in team points with the 1-2 discus punch of Nicole Foster and Emily Gray, while senior Jennifer Decicio (TL) will look to put a division between those two. Decicio returns for the Shot Put with Drake looking to add some points to their team total with Zoe Davis and Kaylee Weber. The sophomore throwing marvel Mauricio Cornejo has been untouchable all season in both throws (particularly the discus) and should easily outdistance the fields. His only competition might come in the Shot Put from Drake Senior Ryan MacAusland.

High Jump

For the girls, Freshman Paige Roberts of San Rafael has been unbeaten all season in the dual meets and won several invites. A host of jumpers have cleared 4-08" so opening heights and misses will be key to points and overall placement. Redwood's incredible depth shows here with Ryan Healy leading the way, coming in with a 6-06" (8th AT MCAL) mark and Jared Pizzo at 6-03" jumping on their home turf. Beau Cowan (MC) and David Crosse (DR) have also cleared six feet this season.

Pole Vault

The MCAL is loaded with talent for the girls and boys in this event. Paige Niesyn, coached by expert Novato Pole Vault coach Hector Benitez leads the way with a 10-06" vault (#2 AT MCAL). Then, a few girls have gone over 8-06". The boys are unbelievable, leading the way not only in NCS but also being amongst the best in the State. Cody Cunnington (DR) and Reese Wilson (RED) are the #2 and #3 AT MCAL vaulters as well. This is one NOT to be missed as these two literally push each other to stratospheric heights. This could easily be the most exciting event of the entire meet!

Northern California Newspaper Coverage...

Track: Aptos girls capture SCCAL title (Register-Pajaronian)

Pinole sprinter takes two titles at ACCAL meet (

DVC's Enemark a revelation at NorCal JC track (

More articles to come...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Novato runner is gaining notice in the 3,200 M

Nice article in Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle about Erik Olson.

(05-05) 21:00 PDT -- Erik Olson loves the sound of the starter's pistol.

The Novato High junior spends countless hours cruising Marin County roads, but the pain-inducing moments when he is chasing another personal-best mark are what feed Olson, who has made one of the most remarkable improvements in recent memory this season.

"I'm addicted to racing," Olson said. "And when we're not racing, I know the end-of-the-week workouts will be hard."

After lowering his own national-best time in the 3,200 meters Saturday, Olson - the distance equivalent to a starting pitcher in a groove - will not get the ball this week. The Novato runners are taking a week off before next week's Marin County Athletic League meet. Perhaps it's an opportunity for Olson to relax after a whirlwind first couple of months to the season.

A wiry 5-foot-10, 120-pounder, Olson won the 3,200 meters at the Sacramento Meet of Champions in 8 minutes, 55.19 seconds on Saturday. He broke a 21-year-old meet record and also beat his previous national-best time of 8:57.51, which he ran at the Woody Wilson Invitational earlier this season.

To read the rest of the article, go to the following link:
Novato runner is gaining notice in the 3,200 M

Northern California Track and Field Coverage...

Mtn. View runs away with titles (Palo Alto Daily News)

Paly, Gunn looking for individual track honors (Palo Alto Online)

Head-Royce's Horwitz claims BCL-East singles title (Berryessa Online, brother of Clara Horowitz)

One day, several stories (Peninsula Athletic League-PAL coverage in San Mateo Daily Journal)

PAL track nears its finish line (San Mateo Daily News)

Around the Horn (Contra Costa Times)

Track and field: Promising future for California Relays (SF Chronicle)

More will be posted as I get them. If you have any links, send them to

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Courtesy of Keith Conning:

Some prominent wind legal marks from this past weekend that are among the state leaders:

200m. Tom Blocker Jesuit 21.62 Sacramento Meet of Champions
200m. Chase Wheeler De La Salle 21.74 Sacramento Meet of Champions
200m. Rashad Ross Vallejo 21.82 Sacramento Meet of Champions

400m. Tom Blocker Jesuit 47.69 Sacramento Meet of Champions
400m. Rashad Ross Vallejo 48.62 Sacramento Meet of Champions
400m. Sean Delfani Las Lomas 48.77 Sacramento Meet of Champions

800m. Jake Arveson Monterey 1:53.99 Sacramento Meet of Champions

3200m. Erik Olson Novato 8:55.19 Sacramento Meet of Champions
3200m. Nathanael Litwiller Clayton Valley 9:23.35 Warren Eaton Relays

110m. Hurdles Chad Jones Bishop O'Dowd 14.35 Sacramento Meet of Champions
110m. Hurdles Chris Mamon Benicia 14.38 Sacramento Meet of Champions
110m. Hurdles R.J. Frasier Jesuit 14.43 Sacramento Meet of Champions
110m. Hurdles Jalen Saunders Pleasant Grove 14.61 Sacramento Meet of Champions

300m. Hurdles Dantei Thomas Fairfield 37.62 Sacramento Meet of Champions
300m. Hurdles R.J. Frasier Jesuit 38.16 Sacramento Meet of Champions
300m. Hurdles Noah Blue Skyline 38.29 Sacramento Meet of Champions

High Jump Maurice Valentine Jr. Castro Valley 6'7" Sacramento Meet of Champions

Triple Jump Afrikaa Holloway Merced 45'7.25" Sacramento Meet of Champions
Triple Jump Dashawn Adger Bear Creek 45'6" Sacramento Meet of Champions
Triple Jump Travis Tsang California 45'1.75" Sacramento Meet of Champions

Pole Vault Chris Bet Serra 15'0" Sacramento Meet of Champions

Discus Derek Nichols Anderson 166'0" Sacramento Meet of Champions

400m. Relays Jesuit 41.77 Sacramento Meet of Champions

1600m. Relay Lincoln (Stockton) 3:21.44 Sacramento Meet of Champions
1600m. Relay De La Salle 3:22.86 Sacramento Meet of Champions

200m. Monikkia White Vallejo 24.84 Sacramento Meet of Champions

400m. Chizoba Okodogbe Deer Valley 54.40 Sacramento Meet of Champions

800m. Lia Rivers Birt Bishop O'Dowd 2:12.71 Sacramento Meet of Champions
800m. Tamara Purpura Lowell 2:14.99 Sacramento Meet of Champions

3200m. Jacque Taylor Casa Grande 10:50.26 Dual Meet

100m. Hurdles T'keyah Birkley Foothill 14.67 Sacramento Meet of Champions
100m. Hurdles Daje Pugh Fairfield 14.73 Sacramento Meet of Champions

300m. Hurdles Daje Pugh Fairfield 43.92 Sacramento Meet of Champions
300m. Hurdles T'keyahl Birkley Foothill 44.25 Sacramento Meet of Champions
300m. Hurdles Laurena Toler 44.99 Bishop O'Dowd Sacramento Meet of Champions

Long Jump Aziza Baker St. Mary's 18'1.5" Sacramento Meet of Champions

Triple Jump Nicole Mcglory James Logan 38'11" Sacramento Meet of Champions
Triple Jump Tessa Runnels James Logan 37'7.25" Sacramento Meet of Champions

Pole Vault Angie Charles Bella Vista 11'2" Sacramento Meet of Champions

Discus Rebecca Hammar Buhach Colony 133'4" Sacramento Meet of Champions

Shot Put Chioma Amechi Lincoln (SF) 42'7.50" Sacramento Meet of Champions
Shot Put Ally Manning Rio Linda 41'4" Sacramento Meet of Champions

400m. Relay Deer Valley 47.82 Sacramento Meet of Champions
400m. Relay St. Mary's Berkeley 48.22 Sacramento Meet of Champions

1600m. Relay Davis 3:57.82 Sacramento Meet of Champions

If you know of other quality marks that took place this past weekend, please email me at or include them in the comment box below.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Running website

If you are familiar with Cheap Seats on ESPN classic and the Sklar brothers, you will enjoy their website.

They are running "superfans" with some very cool links and lists and at the very least you will enjoy playing on the front page of the site.

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