Cairns, Grant Enjoy Good Day Despite Bad Weather

As a freshman, Isabelle Cairns (1) won seven 800-meter races, placed third in the Central Section Finals and qualified for the State Meet. Saturday, she defended K-Bell Invitational title. (Steve Fuller file photo)

CAMPBELL -- Isabelle Cairns and Isabella Grant each had nice performances on a miserable day at the K-Bell Invitational on Saturday at Westmont High School.

Weather hit the annual event most of the day but officials worked hard to get the meet in, although by the time it wrapped up, it was well into nighttime. Add in the cool weather and some wind and some of the marks were affected.

But for an early season meet, the K-Bell has a special place in the Bay Area. And Cairns and Grant each produced despite the poor conditions.

Cairns won the 800 meters in 2:16.01 seconds, fourth-fastest in the state so far this season. The sophomore at Mountain View St. Francis is coming off a cross country season cut short by a high-ankle sprain. She's looking to build on a terrific freshman season which ended in a berth in the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships. There, she was eliminated in the preliminaries.

"This track season has been playing catch-up and working toward getting that base from cross country," Cairns said. "I've had kind of a slow start but I know now that I'm trying to get back up and see if I can go a couple of seconds faster than I did last year. Maybe break 2:10 this year?"

Interview with Isabelle Cairns

Cairns finished third in the Central Coast Section in personal best of 2:12.83 to make the state meet. She said she has been feeling close to 100 percent since January and is looking forward to seeing her time start to drop.

"I'm feeling like I'm pretty much back and my ankle feels a lot stronger," she said.

Cairns added, "My main goal this season is to make it into the invitational race at Arcadia," where she would face the nation's best 800 runners. She said hitting a new PR would help that cause.

Then, there's the matter of not just making state but reaching the podium there.

"Last year, I had a pretty rough state race," Cairns said. "We drove up that day and my legs were completely exhausted. This year, I feel I'm a lot wiser. I'm a little more comfortable with what I'm doing. Hopefully this year I'll be able to improve on everything I did last year."

Interview with Isabella Grant

Grant, a senior at San Jose Presentation (CC), cleared 12 feet, 6 inches to win the pole vault, a fantastic mark considering the conditions which currently ranks tied for fourth in CA. She had a nice battle against several top competitors with Sir Francis Drake's Brooke Simon finishing second at 12-0.

"It was super-exciting," Grant said. "I was hoping to get 13 but I was super-glad with 12-6."

Grant cleared 13-0 once last year (tied for CA No. 4 and U.S. No. 29) but failed to qualify for the CIF meet when she was one of four to clear 11-11 at the Central Coast Section championships but lost out on the countback -- she placed fifth with the top three advancing.

Grant said 13-3 is the next goal as well as making the invitational portion of the Arcadia Invitational.

"Mainly, it's speed," she said. "If I don't get speed all the way through the takeoff, then I can't get that height. If I do get faster and clean up the top of my jump a little bit better, I can hit that height."

Grant signed a letter of intent in November to continue her career at UCLA.

Vincent Vanderlipe, a junior for Salinas Everett Alvarez, won the boys pole vault with a mark of 15-1 (tied for CA No. 5). Bellarmine senior Keanu Lee won the boys shot put at 51-5. Santa Teresa's Jared Vasquez, a junior, swept the boys long and triple jumps at 21-3.50 and 45-0, respectively.

San Jose Branham senior Meagan Kiefer doubled in the girls long jump (16-8.75) and 100 hurdles (15.12). Carly Watts, a senior at Pacifica Terra Nova, won both the shot put at 44-2 and the discus at 144-2.

Los Gatos senior Oliver Aristil won the boys high jump at 6-3. Jared Freeman, a senior at Palo Alto Gunn, won the boys discus at 149-5.

The St. Francis team of Sarah Bettendorf, Sophia Pace, Milana Sarathy and Kaley Peterson won the girls 400 relay in 50.98. San Francisco Riordan won the boys 400 relay with the team of Matt Balingit, Kyle De Asis, Marcus Williams and Nicholas Milburn (44.31). San Lorenzo Valley's team of Maya McCabe, Tianna Bumbaca-Kuehl, Audrey Parmenter and Camryn Crouch took the girls 1,600 relay in 4:08.82. Crouch had earlier won the girls 400 in 59.39. The Los Gatos team of Vincent Foster, Brendan Cummins, Duc-Huy Dam and Joey Monti won the boys 1,600 relay in 3:27.55.