Folau, Coats star at Serra Top 7

By DAMIN ESPER

SAN MATEO -- Elijah Folau wasn't quite where he wanted to be on April 14. The Serra High School-San Mateo senior had a pretty good afternoon on his home track at the Serra Top 7 Meet. He won the shot put at 52 feet, 0 ½ inches, then came back to finish second in the discus at 138-2. But he was disappointed with the latter mark.

"I was hoping to come in here and PR, but I didn't get it done so I'm disappointed with that," Folau said. "But the technique is there. I think it's all going to all start coming together pretty soon."

Folau was one of the top athletes at the meet, which was held on a lovely day in the Bay Area, the first Saturday without a storm this Spring.

Folau came into the year looking to improve upon a strong 2017 season. He had the best mark in the shot put in the preliminaries at the Central Coast Section Championships at 53-0 ½, but then finished eighth in the finals, missing out at a chance at the California Interscholastic Federation Championships. This year, he has already set a PR in the shot put at 53-4, and threw the discus 149-9 for a PR as well.

Folau said his goals were to challenge the Serra school records in both events. That's a pretty high goal, because the Padres have some good ones. Jonathan Beering holds the shot put mark at 59-10 ½ and Dave Cvitanovic holds the discus record at 169-9.

"With the shot, just staying consistent," he said. "Lifting, getting stronger and one will get out there I think.

"I think everything is going to start clicking soon," he said. "I'm one of those guys who peaks at the end of the year. Last year, I peaked at CCS. I don't think I've peaked yet. I think I'm just scratching the surface."

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Folau said he can pick up more distance in both events by getting faster in the ring.

"Getting faster," he said. "Getting faster with the spin. The first seven or eight invitationals that we've been to, it's been just drenching rain. You just can't spin very fast in the rain."

Folau is the oldest of five children. He played multiple sports growing up, then settled on football and track and field. 

"I did track in middle school, just something as a hobby," he said. "Then I picked it up in high school really competitively, something as a break from football season, and I ended up really loving it."

So is he a football player doing track? 

"No no, I'm a track guy who does football," he said.

He spent the 2017 football season starting at left tackle for a Serra team that won the CIF Division 2-AA championship. The Padres went 13-2 on the year.

The other standout at the Serra Top 7 was Carondelet sophomore Aryel Coats, who won the 100 and 200, ran the leadoff leg on the first-place 1,600 relay and ran the second leg on the third-place 400 relay. She ran a PR in the 100 at 12.42 seconds.

Coats is the youngest of five and didn't pick up track until she got to high school. She was a dancer when she was younger. She wasn't happy with her performance in the early races at the Serra Top 7 but was outstanding the rest of the afternoon.

"I felt slow in the 4 x 1, I felt slow in the 100," she said. "But I think everything else, I felt I was moving, I was pushing."

She was happiest with her leg in the 1,600 relay. Coats ran a 59 split, giving her team a big lead and her fellow Cougars made it stand up, finishing in 4:08.58.

"I had been running a 62 all season and I ran a 60 last year," she said. "I had been trying to get that 59 so bad. I just ran faster that first 125 and a 59 came out of it."

Coats' father used to coach track and her cousin Hannah Waller runs the 400 for the University of Oregon. Waller finished second in the 400 and third in the 200 at the CIF Championships in 2016 out of Clovis Buchanan.

"She's really good and my brothers are really good, so I just assumed it's in the genes and I came out," Coats said.

Coats anchored Carondelet to second place in the 400 relay at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions last year. The Cougars went on to finish fifth at the CIF Championships in 47.12. They ran 50.35 in finishing third on April 14.

"I think our team can make state in the 4 x 100, the 4 x 400, in all of it if we actually push," she said. "Maybe in the 200 (personally) and I get sub-12."

Coats said she is focusing on her drive phase getting out of the blocks.

She said she'd like to study psychology and hopes to go to the University of California.


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