Sunday, January 01, 2017

A reflection of the 2016 Track and Field season for NorCal athletes

Here in CCS, we are less than a month away from the official start of the 2017 Track and Field season. That's pretty hard to believe since it feels like I was just leaving Fresno following the 2016 California state cross country meet. Before we get engulfed into the upcoming season, here is a brief look back last year's TF season along with some of the better performances.

2016 Top 10 NorCal Track and Field Athletes
10) Way too many athletes qualify for this spot.
9) Nathan Esparza Amador Valley (NCS)
8) Pamela Amaechi Lincoln (SFS)
7) Alyssa Brewer California (NCS)
6) Fiona O'Keeffe Davis (SJS)
5) Jurnee Woodward Vacaville (SJS)
4) Cooper Teare St. Joseph Notre Dame (NCS)
3) Isaiah Holmes Oakmont (SJS)
2) Darius Carbin Mt. Pleasant (CCS)
1) Elena Bruckner Valley Christian SJ (CCS)

It's pretty tough to narrow it down to just 10 athletes as you can see you do have 9 names. If you feel another athlete belongs in that top 10 list, let's hear it in the comment section below. 

2016 NorCal girls distance group
It was quite a group of girls last year that included five girls that qualified to run at NXN the previous cross country season-Cate Ratliff (Santa Cruz), Morgin Coonfield (McKinleyville), Brooke Starn (Monte Vista), Megan McCandless (Granada) and Gillian Meeks (Granada). Along with those girls, you had Rylee Bowen (Sonoma Academy) tearing it up all over the United States and dropping at 10:13.20 victory at the Arcadia Invitational. You also had the emergence of Alyssa Brewer and Cathilyn McIntosh who finished 2nd behind Brewer in the 800 at the state meet just ahead of Ariane Arndt. Harker junior Niki Iyer finished behind two of the all-time great distance runners-Fiona O'Keeffe (Davis) and Destiny Collins (Great Oak) and ahead of Coonfield. O'Keeffe had a spectacular finish to her season with her state meet victory (10:12.02), a 2nd at Brooks PR 2 mile (10:05.63) and then an absolute scorcher with a 15:56.84 5000 meters at the USATF Junior National Outdoor TF Championship. Little sister Olivia also finished well with a 3rd place with a PR of 4:48.66.

Boys 3200 meters
In 2016, 4 NorCal boys broke 9:00 in 3200 with Cooper Teare St. Joseph Notre Dame (8:51.85), Michael Vernau Davis (8:54.58), Sean Kurdy Jesuit (8:59.15) and Luis Grijalva Armijo (8:59.98). I would have to do some digging but has there ever been 4 NorCal boys under 9:00 in the 3200 during the same season and if so, when? Three of those runners, Teare, Vernau and Grijalva are all back this season and it will be interesting how much faster they will run this spring.

The Throwers
Elena Bruckner (Valley Christian SJ) emerged as an elite thrower as a junior as she helped lead her team to a 2nd place team finish at the CA state meet. She was even better as a senior as she improved her lifetime best marks in the shot put (54'7") and discus (186'10). She finished undefeated in the shot put and won her 2nd straight state championship in the event. In the discus, she improved her state meet finish to 2nd place and her best mark is the 4th furthest throw in US history. The mark also qualified her for the US Olympic trials where she finished in 16th place in the qualifying round. 

Nathan Esparza (Amador Valley)-Not to be outdone, Esparza had quite a senior season. He finished in 2nd place in the shot put at the state meet with a lifetime best throw of 69'4.75". That mark now stands as the North Coast Section record although Esparza passed the previous mark earlier in the season. The previous record was held by Dennis DeSoto of Santa Rosa in 1981 with a throw of 63'10.5". In the discus, Esparza threw a lifetime best 191'5" at the trials which is the 3rd best throw in NCS history. He finished 5th in final with a throw of 186'4" to wrap up one of the finest seasons for a NorCal male thrower.

Pamela Amaechi (Lincoln, SF) Overshadowed by Bruckner, Amaechi had a terrific season that included a surprising state championship in the discus. She recorded a lifetime best mark in the shot put (47'1") at the St. Francis Invitational and finished in 3rd place at the state meet with a put of 45'1.5". Her best mark in the discus (166'5") took place at the Big Cat Relays at the beginning of the season although she did throw 164'1" to win her first state title. Aside from her throwing prowess, Amaechi also recorded a 12.80 100 meters as well as a 5'1" high jump. She will be back this season as a senior and she will definitely not be under the radar.

The multi-talented Isaiah Holmes and Darius Carbin
Two of the most talented Track and Field athletes in NorCal history both graduated last year. Holmes had eye popping best marks in his many events. It's difficult to pick out his best event but considering he won the long jump at the state meet, we will call that his best and he did have a 25'11.5" wind aided jump. His state winning jump was a wind legal 25'5". Holmes also jumped 7'1" at the Sac Joaquin Masters meet which makes him a pretty good high jumper. He finished in 5th place in both the high jump and triple jump and had a lifetime best mark of 49'11" at the USATF National Junior Olympic T&F Championship. He also finished in 2nd place at SJS Masters meet in the 110m Hurdles with a best of 14.13.

Carbin actually competed in the same events although the high jump was clearly his best event. More on that event in a moment. He long jumped 22'6.5" for his PR at his league final. He won the triple jump at the CCS final with a PR of 48'1.75". He chose to focus on the high jump at the state meet since both events took place at the same time. At the state meet Carbin, won the high jump at 7'0" with fewer misses over two other athletes that also cleared 7'0". Before the outdoor season, Carbin won the New Balance National Indoor meet with a jump of 7'1.75". He saved his best performance for his last meet as he finished in 2nd place at the IAAF World U20 Championship with a monster 7'4.5" jump. That mark now stands as the #1 jump in CCS history surpassing Jeff Rogers 7'3" mark from 1985 when he attended Overfelt.

Jurnee Woodward's hard earned state title
Woodward was one of the top hurdlers in California and when it came to the 300 meter hurdles, she was the best. Heading into the state meet, Woodward had the best mark leading the state from her 41.01 set at the Texas Relays. During the trials at the state meet, Woodward won her qualifying race in the 100 hurdles with a time of 13.62. It was going to be a mere formality for her to qualify for the 300 hurdles but alas that is not what happened. Woodward tripped over the 2nd hurdle and had to scramble back to a qualifying position. She made the final as one of the last qualifiers. Starting in lane 2, Woodward stormed to the lead and established a new personal best of 40.62, one of the fastest time in US history. 

If you have other memorable moments that you would like to mention as well, feel free to do so in the comment section below.


Anonymous said...

Re boys 3,200: in one race (1981 state meet) 5 nor cal runners broke 9 - Marden, Torres, Kuphaldt, McCullum and Shea. That's just off the top of head, but there may be others.

Albert Caruana said...

1 Jon Butler Edison S 8:46.78 3200 1981
2 Jay Marden Mission SJ NC 8:51.64 3200 1981
3 Jesse Torres Independence CC 8:52.11 3200 1981
4 Mike Carlton Northview S 8:52.80 3200 1981
5 Harold Kuphaldt Bella Vista SJ 8:54.78 3200 1981
6 Mike McCollum Palo Alto CC 8:56.11 3200 1981
7 Dace Shea Castro Valley NC 8:58.49 3200 1981
8 Aubrey Wilson Berkeley NC 9:00.42 3200 1981

Keep them coming. Was 1981 the last time NorCal had 4 or more runners that dipped under 9 for 3200?

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