Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Northern California Track and Field State Meet Champions

With just a couple of post-season track and fields meets to go, it's time to take a look back at the 2014 season and what a season it was for athletes in the northern part of the state. We had a combination of an outstanding senior class and the rise of several future stars. Despite being outnumbered by their peers from the South, the North more than held their own at the state meet with multiple state championships and many high finishes. Below is a recap of the 9 state championships that were claimed by Northern California athletes and teams.

The State Champions
It didn't take long for the first state championship on the track although it may not have been accomplished as planned. Woodcreek HS (above courtesy of was the #1 ranked boys 400m. relay team with a CA best 40.93 heading into the state meet. They upheld their ranking in the trials as they ran the fastest time of the day, 41.26. In the final, Woodcreek appeared to be headed toward victory but their anchor, Colton George, was overtaken by Kevin Nutt of Edison and ended up finishing in a disappointing 2nd place (State champs or bust). But wait! A yellow flag on the turn led to Edison's DQ and Woodcreek was crowned as the first NorCal 400m. relay champion since Skyline in 1999 and the first champion from the Sacramento region since Hiram Johnson in 1986. The other team members were Alex Rotteveel, Tyus Williamson and Aspyn Walton. With the Edison HS DQ, Castro Valley HS moved up to 2nd place giving NorCal a very rare 1-2 finish at the state meet in the short relay. How rare you ask. It's only happened one other time and that was in 1975 when Ells HS (Richmond) and Wilson HS (San Francisco) finished as the top two teams at state.
The next state championship took place immediately after the boys' 400m. relay but it may have come from a surprise winner. San Lorenzo Valley's Anna Maxwell was the defending state champion and undefeated at four lap distance in 2014. In fact, her only loss at any distance came at the Arcadia Invitational in the 3200m. against ridiculously good Alexa Efraimson, Alaskan high school star Allie Ostrander and California's latest distance stud, Bethan Knights of Northwood HS. Maxwell doubled up her victory total in the 1600 and 800 at the CCS meet with a little too close for comfort victory over Sarah Robinson of Gunn HS in the longer distance. Knights chose to focus on the 3200m. and dropped the 1600m. despite running 4:42.29 at the SS divisional final. That still left 7 girls under 4:50 in the suddenly deep event. Maxwell entered the state meet attempting to complete a double (1600/800) that had been accomplished once (Kathy Costello, Pleasant Hill HS, 1975) in California state meet history. Maxwell, per usual, led from the gun and had two willing companions in Robinson and Destiny Collins of Great Oak HS. All three went through the first lap under 66 seconds and the race was ON! All three remained clear of the chase pack by a wide margin throughout most of the race until one of the unforgettable moments from the 2014 meet. With approximately 250m. to go, a very exciting race turned into a demolition derby with Maxwell and Collins crashing to the ground. Robinson avoided the tumbling runners and raced away to victory, winning in a near PR 4:44.25.
The next state meet victor was another surprise winner although Northern California has done quite well in the girls' 100m. hurdle race with 6 victories in the last 8 years. At the Arcadia Invitational, Vacaville HS also set a new national record in the always exciting 4 x 100m. shuttle hurdles race. The three fastest times from the section meets all belonged to NorCal athletes with Pattriana Perry of Vacaville HS leading the way with her 13.76 at the SJS Masters meet. Mecca McGlaston of Dublin HS, the Stanford Invitational champion, won the NCS MOC meet in a then lifetime best 13.87. Freshman phenom, Reonna Collier of Piedmont Hills HS, won 4 events at the CCS meet which included the short hurdle race in 14.00.  Following the preliminary races, Perry led 8 girls under the 14 second mark to the final with a wind aided 13.63. I am certain that at least 5 girls in that final believed they could win the final and claim the state championship. At the gun, McGlaston timed her start perfectly and led the way to the first hurdle and never gave up the lead to record the victory in another PR of 13.54.
The Central Coast Section track and field female alumni list is an impressive one that includes Leslie Maxie of Mills HS (Olympian, HS 400m. hurdle record holder 55.20), Wendy Brown of Woodside HS (Olympian, won state meet team championship by herself in 1983), Jeneba Tarmoh of Mt. Pleasant (Olympian, 4 time state individual champion) and Vashti Thomas of Mt. Pleasant HS (CA 100m. hurdles record holder-13.03, 4 time state individual champion). This year, the previously mentioned Reonna Collier of Piedmont Hills, appears to be headed to join  that elite company. Following her 4 dominating victories at the CCS meet, Collier narrowed her focus to the hurdle races by dropping the 100m. She finished in 4th place in the short hurdle race which is rather impressive considering that Collier picked up the hurdles for the first time this year. On Friday, she recorded a then PR in the preliminary 300m.hurdles race, 42.01. That time tied her for the 3rd fastest time entering the final but Collier ended up dominating an experienced field with an eye-popping 40.90 to claim her first but definitely not her last state championship.
Looking to duplicate the earlier back to back victories by Woodcreek HS and Sarah Robinson, De La Salle HS hurdler Marquis Morris had the opportunity to claim his 2nd state championship following his first one the previous season in the 110m. High Hurdles race. At this state meet, Morris finished in 2nd place in the 110m. High Hurdle race (behind frequent rival, Misana Viltz of Millikan HS) but this time had a chance to compete in the longer hurdle race at the state meet. In 2013, Morris was disqualified at the NCS Tri-Valley meet for a trail leg "hooking" violation in the 300m. Hurdle race. Morris came into this race as the favorite as the lone CA hurdler to dip under the 37 second barrier this season. His lone loss took place at the Arcadia Invitational against Robert Grant of Arizona. Morris controlled the state final and once again dipped under the 37 second mark to win in a time of 36.86 just ahead of the diving Austin Carter of Folsom HS.
The state 3200m. has become the heavyweight championship race for the distance runners at the CA state meet. With the luxury of dealing with one race at the state meet, many of the top runners choose to focus on the longer distance race in favor of the four lap distance. This year, Blake Haney added to the intrigue of the distance races as he was attempting to become the 2nd CA runner to win the 1600/3200 races in back to back seasons. Earlier in the meet, Haney claimed the 1600m. and was 3/4 of the way to matching Roman Gomez of Belmont HS (1984/1985). Waiting for Haney in the 3200m. was a strong list of runners who didn't have to go through the 1600m. grind of trials and finals that included Fred Huxham of Redwood HS. Huxham had already recorded an impressive season that included a 4:14.48 indoor mile in Washington, a mile victory at the Stanford Invitational-4:15.80, a 10th place finish at the Arcadia Invitational  in 8:55.03 and a new school record in the 1600m. (4:09.99) at his league final. He immediately dropped the 1600m. and turned his focus solely to the 3200m. and won the NCS MOC meet over a game Blair Hurlock of De La Salle HS in 8:59.24. The state meet race was another tactical affair with the majority of the runners rolling through the mile in the mid 4:30s. Hurlock immediately stretched the field out as he, Huxham and Steven Fahy of La Costa Canyon HS surged to the lead. They continued to lead until Huxham made his move for the win during the 7th lap and rolled to victory in a lifetime best time, 8:54.24.
When we look back at this past state meet, several individuals (Ariana Washington of LB Poly and Stamatia Scarvelis of Dos Pueblos HS) stand out as state meet victors and will go down as all-time CA state meet performers for their multiple victories in consecutive state meets. Nate Moore of Castro Valley will be remembered along with those two young ladies and he was able to accomplish an achievement that has never been accomplished before in state meet history. Moore won the long jump and triple jump in 2013 with jumps of 24'11.75" and 50'11.75" respectively. In 2014, Moore dominated the triple jump with 5 jumps over 50 feet. He recorded a lifetime best mark of 51'4" that was wind aided (+2.1). He recorded a wind legal lifetime best mark of 25'8.75" on his final jump in the long jump to become the first jumper in CA history to record back to back LJ/TJ victories. Moore was also part of the 2nd place 400m. relay team and helped Castro Valley HS finish in 2nd place in the team battle with 28 points.
The battle for this year's girls team title at CCS was a hotly contested one between Gunn HS and Los Gatos HS. Going into the 2014 season, Los Gatos appeared to be the favorite despite losing potential points with the transfer of Mady Fagan (She won '14 HJ title for Saratoga HS). Behind Sarah Robinson's distance triple, Gunn was able to outlast Los Gatos by 3 points (73-70) and the Collier powered Piedmont Hills team by 11 points. Greta Wagner of Los Gatos (above courtesy of Jim Gensheimer) was their big scorer in four separate events as she was a member of the winning 400m. relay team, finished in 2nd place in the 100, 3rd place in the 200 and won her specialty, the pole vault. She finished in 3rd place at state in the PV in 2013 and was the favorite to win this year's state title following the non advancement to the state meet by 2013 champion, Kaitlyn Merritt of Santa Margarita. Wagner cleared her first four heights in the finals on the first attempt to win the title and continued further to clear 13'0.25" on the 3rd attempt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that Huxham has not yet seen his "lifetime best" in the 3200m. Great race. Good luck at U of W.

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