APTOS - Nick Cunningham wanted to do as much for his Monterey High track team as he could one last time. So the Toreador senior went out and won everything he ran Friday: the 100 meters, 200 and the 400 to steal the show at the Monterey Bay League Track and Field Championships on the new all-weather track at Aptos High.
"The league is what people remember," said Cunningham, who in his trademark black tights opened with a career-best 48.78 seconds in the 400 (the second fastest time in the Central Coast Section this season), came back 15 minutes later with an 11.19 in the 100 and then captured his specialty, the 200, in 21.86. "This was the last time I was going to be able to run with my classmates."
The classmates at North County ran well enough together to sweep the MBL boys and girls team titles. With 130 athletes in the meet (at the varsity and lower levels), the Condors not only had the numbers, but had boys qualify for the CCS trials in 10 events and both relays, as well as girls advance in 12 events and both relays. Athletes and relays needed to finish first or second to qualify for the trials.
"They are a dedicated group," North County girls coach Shawn Parker said. "There is a certain status and responsibility of being successful in track at North Monterey County."
While Parker watched his girls score 193 points to easily outdistance runner-up Monterey, at 113, Condors boys coach Gus Ibarra had to leave the meet because of a family emergency and didn't see his team score 184 points, to runner-up Seaside's 122 (pending the official results on the high jump).
Leading the Condor girls was senior hurdler Carla Scherer, who won the 100 hurdles in 16.64 and the 300 hurdles in 48.12, then finished off the meet with a fast lead leg in the 1,600 relay, giving North County a huge lead it never gave up.
"I am so excited about the competition that will be at the CCS," said Scherer, who is also her class co valedictorian and is headed to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in the fall. "A lot about today was the team effort. We wanted to win the league. Winning as a team is the best feeling."
Scherer was one of several MBL double-winners. Seaside's Keawe Block won titles in the boys 110 hurdles and triple jump, while other girls double-champs included Alvarez's Monica Neri in the high jump and triple jump; Seaside's Karla Lovos in the 100 and 200; and Monterey's Kristin Gallup in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Cunningham, who has accepted a scholarship to run at UC Santa Barbara, qualified for the CCS meet in all three events that he won, but decided to drop the 400.
"It's nice to have the options," he said. "But I want to be CCS champion in the 200. That's prime. And the 100 won't take a lot out of me."