State Preview - 05/30/13
It's easy to see why Jaylen Wright calls himself a "late bloomer." The Bellarmine College Prep hurdler had never qualified for the state track and field championships until this season, and the senior did so by soaring to the top of his field.
Wright's 13.91-second run in the 110-meter high hurdles at the Central Coast Section finals last weekend was California's top time this season and turned what might have been a happy-to-be-there appearance at this weekend's state meet into something far more significant.
"I feel like I am going into this state meet similar to how I went into CCS, because I went into CCS wanting to win it," Wright said. "Now I am going to go into state not just to have the state experience but to actually go in there and have a chance at winning it."
Wright is seeded No. 1 in the 110 hurdles and No. 3 in the 300 hurdles. He is among a handful of CCS boys seeded in the top five in their respective events heading into the preliminary round at the state meet Friday at Buchanan High in Clovis. The finals are Saturday.
Oak Grove's David Aguilar, who said he runs until he feels pain, is seeded behind only Ridgeview of Bakersfield's Ivan Gonzalez in the 800. Gonzalez's qualifying time was 1:50.59. Aguilar won the CCS title in 1:52.15.
Andrew Hill's Miguel Vasquez (1:52.55) is seeded fourth in the 800 and Carlmont's Tim Layten (1:52.60) fifth. Vasquez could find himself on the medal stand in two events because he isseeded third in the 1,600 after finishing first at the CCS finals in 4:12.48. Stockdale of Bakersfield's Blake Haney is the top seed in 4:07.16.
Serra's Jonathan Beering (59 feet, 9 inches) had the fourth-best qualifying throw in the shot put. Nick Ponzio of Great Oak had the top mark in 65-1 and is the state season leader in 69-71/4.
Bellarmine is seeded fifth in the 4x100 relay after the team of Taylor Njaka, Aaron Chapman, Nikolai Makarov and Joey Sanfilippo won the CCS title in a school-record 41.65. Serra-Gardena is the top seed in 40.91.
"Hopefully we can make the final and make the medal stand," Bellarmine sprint coach Dan Burke said. "I think they can go faster. It's a matter of getting that baton."
Prospect hurdler Kamara Biawogi, who brought top CCS season times into the section finals, is seeded fourth in the 300 hurdles (37.59) and eighth in the 110 hurdles (14.23). He will again have to compete against Wright, who had the CCS's second-fastest hurdles times until last weekend. Now, the spotlight will be on Wright, who has come out of nowhere, as he put it, to become a state-title contender.
"I've sort of been unknown all throughout high school," Wright said. "So that's why this year has been crazy. But I am taking it all in, not getting too high but still remaining confident."
Greta Wagner of Los Gatos won the Central Coast Section championship in the pole vault at 13 feet. She is also a sprinter who runs the second leg on the Los Gatos 4x100 relay, which also took first place at the CCS meet.
But she didn't begin her track career as either a pole vaulter or a sprinter.
"She was a distance runner her freshman year, ran the 800 and (1,600)," Los Gatos coach Ernesto Salinas said. "She has a strong gymnastics background. When she went out for pole vault, within two weeks she jumped 9-0. She was a natural. Two months later, she went 10-6."
So as a sophomore Wagner made the transition from being a distance runner to being a pole vaulter/sprinter. All the jumpers at Los Gatos also do sprints.
Now she goes into the state meet Friday and Saturday at Buchanan High in Clovis as the No. 2 ranked pole vaulter in the state.
Last year's state champion, Taylore Jaques of Presentation, placed second at the CCS meet at 12-6, so she will also be part of the field and looking to repeat. Teammate Emma McCarthy also cleared 12-6 at CCS.
The distance events are the strength of CCS girls track and field. Gunn's Sarah Robinson placed third at the CCS meet in the 1,600 and second in the 3,200. The CCS state meet entrants in the 1,600 -- San Lorenzo Valley's Anna Maxwell (4:42.57), defending state champion Nikki Hiltz of Aptos (4:44.93) and Robinson (4:48.41) -- are 1-2-3 on the state performance list, which means thatRobinson, in taking third at CCS, ran faster than any other section champion. She also has the No. 4 qualifying time in the 3,200 (10:28.08).
Hiltz won the CCS 800 in 2:09.50, the top mark from any section final. Piedmont Hills' Bianca Bryant (2:11.97) is No. 3 and Pioneer's Jeanine Noordam (2:12.56) No. 5. The CCS final was so fast that Westmoor's Kylie Goo, who had the fastest time in the state earlier this season, took fourth in 2:13.29 and did not qualify for state, even though her time was faster than 18 of 27 state meet entrants.
Wilcox's Marisa Kwiatkowski jumped 40-0 to win the CCS triple jump, the third-best mark among state meet entrants. Kwiatkowski will also take part in the long jump and will anchor the 4x100 relay.
Menlo's Maddy Price has made significant improvement in the 400 and 200 the past two weeks at the CCS finals and semifinals. Price won both at the CCS finals with times of 54.78 in the 400 and a wind-aided 24.30 in the 200. Her 400 time is third-best in the state.
Ellisa Bryant of Piedmont Hills placed second in the 400 at the CCS finals in 55.01, the fourth-fastest among state meet qualifiers. The Piedmont Hills 4x400 relay team, which broke the CCS record earlier this season at 3:47.94, ran 3:50.23 at the CCS finals, ninth-best on the state meet performance list.