CLOVIS -- Where do we start with the 100th CIF-State Track & Field Championships?
How about with a pair of tiny redheaded twins from the western Sierra Nevada foothills who nearly won a girls team title all by their amazing little selves? Don't let the innocent demeanor of Maddy and Elena Denner disarm you. On the track, in the distances, they are calculated and relentless and feed off of each other as only twins can.
How about with a boys team champion that not only didn't win its league, but wasn't even the runner-up. Of course the Southwestern League isn't your normal high school track league and the third place team from that league, Murrieta Mesa, had an unstoppable, indefatigable star by the name of Christian Shakir-Ricks.
How about Norwegian pole vaulter Sondre Guttormsen, who set a meet record in his speciality and also snatched a silver medal in the 110 hurdles?
How about a girls team champion, Gardena Serra, that scored in five events but had just one win?
How about the boys sprints where state leader Asani Hampton (Yucaipa) was fast but not fast enough to hold off UCLA-bound football running back Kazmier Allen (Tulare) who won by a fraction of a second in 10.44 (0.7).
How about those who defended titles from 2017 and those who did not? Beginning with the defenders:
- Sean Lee (Trabuco Hills/SS) in the high jump (7-2)
- CJ Stevenson (Great Oak/SS) in the triple jump (read further for more on his race)
- Abigail Burke (Riverside Poly/SS) in the high jump (a co-champ this time with Long Beach Wilson sophomore Rachel Glenn, as odd as co-champ sounds) after clearing a PR 5-10
- Maddy Denner (Oak Ridge/SJ) in the 1600 (read further for more on this race)
Those who did not:
- Ariyonna Augustine (Long Beach Poly/SS), who wasn't able to defend titles in the 100m and 200m, although a medalist in both (3rd in the 100m (11.65.1/2), 2nd in the 200m, losing her balance in her final couple strides and sprawling over the line in 23.70/0.3)
- Jett Charvet (Brentwood Heritage/NC) who was leading and then he wasn't at the end of the 800m, getting 2nd to a 54.132-second negative split finish from Jason Gomez (Westmont/CC) to win in 1:50.21 (CA #1, US #4). Charvet PRd in 1:50.79 (CA #2, US #12) for the silver.
- Alyssa Brewer, (San Ramon California/NC) who has a foot injury that prevented her from going for a third consecutive title in the 800m.
Tierra Robinson-Jones closed hard to win the 200 as Ariyonna Augustine fell at the finish (Pat Rhames photo)
So, with Brewer unable to go, a steely-focused Cathilyn McIntosh, (Del Oro/SJ) runner-up each of the past two seasons, put down a 2:07.64 to take over the State lead during Friday's prelims and followed that with a 2:05.22 domination that was stunning in its Brewer-like execution. That time ranks US #2 in 2018 and CA #7 all-time and was run not too long after the peak temperature of 93 degrees at Buchanan HS had only slightly cooled.
"I definitely wasn't expecting that and I definitely wasn't expecting that yesterday either, I'm just super happy," the Georgetown-bound McIntosh said. "I was super surprised because I wasn't expecting to break 2:07."
McIntosh (Louis Amestoy photo), who just missed her previous PR of 2:07.62 in Friday's prelims, started the season running 2:21. She got down to 2:10.77 to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Meet a week ago and continued to drop at Buchanan, more than 5 seconds from her Masters time week-over-week to finally take the top step on the awards stand at the State Meet for the first time in three tries.
"It's super special," she said. "I can't really explain it. To get the blue ribbon instead of the red, it's definitely great. And to PR with it, as well, is just amazing."