Sequoia High School-Redwood City senior Noah Vauclair was the center of attention for his teammates. He had just finished a fabulous kick in the final lap of the boys 1,600 meters at the Don Bell Quicksilver Classic at Leland-San Jose on April 6, running down several competitors to take first place in a personal-best of four minutes, 29.12 seconds.
Through the smiles and celebration, Vauclair laughed and said, "That one hurt a bit."
"I went with about 800 to go," Vauclair said. "I knew I didn't have the best start. My warmup was a little bit shaky. I thought we were going to go off about an hour earlier."
(Note: the frosh/soph portion of the meet had gone very long.)
"First 800 was honestly just getting back on my legs. With 800 to go, I knew I had to kind of turn it up a little bit. (The final 100) was all mental and cheering from my teammates. I'm used to having a little bit of a kick but I think that one started to hurt maybe 300 meters earlier."
Vauclair beat out Maximiliano Chavez of Cupertino (4:29.82) and Edgar Williams of Santa Teresa-San Jose (4:30.43).
Vauclair's was one of several PRs at the meet on a day that really couldn't make up its mind. Rain was expected but stayed away; there was cloud cover and cooling temperatures, then sunshine and warmth and back.
The winners in the pole vault also set personal bests. Lindsay Gigliello of Branham-San Jose won the girls event at 11 feet, 8 inches. That was a five-inch best for the junior, who only started pole vaulting last year.
"I did gymnastics for 12 years and I did wrestling for a couple of years," Gigliello said. "Maybe the strength part (of gymnastics translates to pole vaulting) but mostly gymnastics.
"It took a little while to get used to it. The whole planting aspect, I just figured that out this year. Last year, that was not so much the case. Just going up high, the feeling of being up in the air. It's really fun."
Gigliello said her goal is to break 12-0 and qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation Championships.
"I'm just going to work on getting faster and rowing all the way to the top," she said.
It was a similar story in the boys pole vault where Brett Craft of Leland-San Jose set a PR at 15-0 - also beating his previous best by five inches. Runner-up John Horan of Sequoia upped his personal-best by a foot by clearing 14-6.
Craft is a senior who has been bothered by a sore hamstring for two years now. He shut himself down after one try at 15-3 because he was starting to feel it.
"This season has been recovery," Craft said. "Last season I was out for the majority of it. It has been tough. I'm in physical therapy every day pretty much."
He added, "Things have started to come together. I was kind of slacking at the beginning of the season. Weather has to do with it - been dealing with a lot of rain. Haven't been able to train as much. But it seemed like I had good height on that 15-0."
Craft tried track in sixth grade but didn't like it. Probably because he was running, not vaulting. He moved on to baseball, soccer, hockey and wrestling. After joining the football team as a freshman, he found he didn't like that either. But then a friend convinced him to come out for track and field.
"I was like, 'Hey, that pole vaulting thing looks pretty fun over there,'" he said.
Craft was a natural and cleared 12-0 as a freshman, then cleared 14-0 as a sophomore.
Other fine performances included Santa Cruz's Alexis Morris, who won the girls 300 hurdles in 47.84 after finishing second in the 100 hurdles in 15.41. Leland sophomore Melissa Cichon won the girls 1,600 in 5:15.97, the 3,200 in 11:20.84 and ran a leg on the Chargers' fourth-place 1,600 relay team (4:21.97). Evergreen Valley-San Jose junior Diem Quynh Nguyen finished first in the girls discus (116-5) and second in the shot put (34-8 ¾).
Live Oak-Morgan Hill junior Kolton McCrossen swept the boys 200 (22.91) and 400 (50.01). Santa Clara senior Nick Garcia doubled up in the long jump (21-9 ¾) and triple jump (43-4 ¾).
Lynbrook-San Jose won both team titles. The boys team had 48 points, 10 clear of second place Santa Teresa. The girls team scored 55, with Monta Vista-Cupertino second with 48.