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!

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