East County makes the big jump to state meet

Mountain Empire High School freshman Shayden Kaiser made a splash with a fourthplace finish in the Division III girls 300-meter low hurdles event at last Saturday’s San Diego Section championship meet.

The California Interscholastic Federation state track and field meet is back after going dark for the past two seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic. East County athletes responded to the call in a big way and will be well represented at this weekend’s event at Buchanan High School in Clovis. East County athletes have qualified to compete in nine events in the elite two-day meet. Preliminary qualifying is Friday, followed by finals on Saturday. Helix Charter, Steele Canyon, Santana and Liberty Charter high schools each are sending athletes to suburban Fresno. Helix will have representation in the boys 4×100-meter relay (freshman Laurence Burston, junior Adren Parker and seniors Xavier Van and Jared Jones), boys 400-meter dash (Parker), boys long jump (senior Tibyassa Matovu) and boys 4×400-meter relay (Parker, Van, Matovu and senior Ethan Denison). Steele Canyon’s qualifiers are in the girls 400 dash (senior Arionn Livingston), boys high jump (senior Leon Gillis) and boys 4×400 relay (seniors Nathaniel Gillis and Samuel Cook, junior Benito Villa and sophomore Michael Dodds). Santana will be represented in the girls long jump and triple jump by junior Jenna Fields. Liberty Charter ’s breakthrough to the state meet comes in the 1600 run via junior Micah Sanchez.

Heavy metal

The top three place-finishers in each event out of all divisions at last Saturday’s San Diego Section championship meet at Mt. Carmel High School, plus those individuals who met predetermined qualifying marks, qualified to compete at Friday’s state prelims. Events were run in multiple heats, with athletes sorted by division for medals. Regardless of their place-finishes, athletes scored points for their respective teams. Awards were presented by gender (male and female) and division (Division I, Division II and Division III). The top six place-finishers in each division in each event received medals. Mission Hills High School won the Division I boys team title while Poway won the Division I girls team title. Mt. Carmel won the Division II boys title while Cathedral Catholic won the Division II girls team title. Mission Bay High School won the Division III boys team title while La Jolla captured the Division III girls team championship. Among East County teams, Helix Charter placed fourth among Division I boys teams while El Capitan placed fifth among Division II boys teams. Of note, Steele Canyon finished sixth in the 29-deep Division I girls field and seventh in the boys field. West Hills, Santana, El Capitan and Monte Vista finished eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th, respectively, in the Division II girls team standings. On an individual basis, East County athletes racked up seven divisional gold medals, nine divisional silver medals and 15 divisional bronze medals. Individual division gold medalists included Helix’s Parker (Division I boys 400 dash, 47.31) and Matovu (boys long jump, 22- 8.75), El Capitan senior Xavier Peace (Division II boys 400 dash, 49.87) and Liberty Charter’s Sanchez (Division III boys 1600, 4:16.80). All but Peace qualified for the state meet. CIF division champion relay teams included Helix’s 4×400 boys unit in Division I (3:19.19), El Capitan’s boys 4×400 quartet in Division II (3:24.48) and West Hills’ girls 4×400 squad in Division II (4:02.22). Steele Canyon’s Livingston (second in Division II, 56.70) and Leon Gillis (second in Division I, 6-6) both advanced to the state meet among the top three qualifiers in their respective events as did Santana’s Fields in the long jump (second in Division II, 18-1.5) and triple jump (second in Division II, 37-8). Helix’s boys 4×100 relay team (second in Division I, 42.03) and Steele Canyon’s boys 4×400 relay team (third in Division I, 3:22.20) also placed high enough to qualify for the state meet. El Capitan’s boys 4×400 relay team included Aundrey Calvert, Peace, Austin Calvert and Ryan Quamina while West Hills’ winning 4×400 foursome included Savanna Gillespie, Taylor Koshiol, Bella Crescitelli and Alexis Leath. Steele Canyon finished as this year’s Grossmont Hills League dual meet champions in both gender fields as well as champions in both gender fields at the ensuing conference championship meet. Full-blown qualifying for the state meet marks a return to normalcy for the sport, according to Steele Canyon coach Charles Tyler. “We had a full season and we had a lot of invitationals,” Tyler said. “Those Saturday meets were generally more competitive than the Thursday dual meets. We had an awesome chance to compete at a high level to help prepare us for CIF.” Red Hawks Division III provided a suitable spotlight for some of the section’s smaller programs at last Saturday’s section championship meet. Mountain Empire placed 27th in both the boys and girls team standings among the 69 teams in the division. Mountain Empire senior Lukas Spenser finished second among boys triple jumpers (42-5.25) while freshman Shayden Kaiser placed fourth in the girls 300-meter low hurdles (50.29) and seventh in the girls long jump (15- 3.5).

East County makes the big jump to state meet

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