DUBLIN -- John Lester and Aidan Boyle of Pleasanton Amador Valley came down the stretch in the final of the boys 800 meters at the East Bay Athletic League finals on Saturday (May 4). As they tore down the track at Dublin High School, Lester inched in front, edging his teammate at the line.
The two friends and training partners certainly enjoy competing against each other. They also enjoy going 1-2 in an event, scoring 18 points between them to help the Dons win the boys team title at the EBAL meet.
Oh, and they enjoy advancing to next week's CIF-North Coast Section regional meet.
"We came in anticipating getting 1-2 because the boys are favored for EBAL," Boyle said. "We don't only want to qualify for next week. We both want to qualify for state and do the same thing at the end of the season - go 1-2."
Lester, a sophomore, finished first this time, winning in one minute, 56.84 seconds. Boyle, a senior, was right behind in 1:57.04. Dougherty Valley senior Mohamed Boutaleb was third in 1:57.82.
"We've been trading off every week," Boyle said. "It helps keep a healthy competition so in the future we keep getting better."
Said Lester, "We definitely push each other. For sure."
He added, "Every day is a chance to get better. We both take that really seriously. I have really gone after his work ethic. He's very competitive. And I aspire to be the same."
Countered Boyle, "I hope by pushing him in all these workouts and races that when I'm gone, he keeps the Amador (middle distance) teams strong every year."
Amador Valley finished with 84 points, eight in front of second place San Ramon California and 11 in front of third place Concord De La Salle so Lester and Boyle were a huge part of the win. Lester also took second in the 400 (50.34) and ran a leg on the Dons victorious 1,600 relay team to clinch the title. Amador Valley finished the relay in 3:25.19. California was second in 3:29.19, which moved the Grizzlies into second in the team scoring.
Boutaleb, the third-place finisher in the 800, set a personal-best with his time.
"For the first 50 meters, I wanted to go out as hard as I could so that way I don't get boxed in or anything," he said. "Then after 200 meters or so, I would let one of the guys from Amador Valley go ahead of me so I would have someone to pace with through the rest of the race. Then, on the second lap, I wanted to speed up a little bit. The last 100 meters I just went out as hard as I could."
Boutaleb is excited to race at NCS but as an observant Muslim, he will be celebrating Ramadan this week and must fast during daylight hours. He will have to manage his workouts as well but will be competing during daylight hours next weekend. He still hopes to drop his time to the 1:56 range.
On the girls side, Dublin took the team title with 100.50 points. Amador Valley finished second with 78.
Twenty-six of the Dons points came in part to Chinyere Okoro, who won the 100 and 200 and ran a leg on Amador Valley's third-place 1,600 relay team.
Okoro won the 100 in 11.87, then took the 200 in 24.53. Both marks were wind-legal.
Okoro played multiple sports growing up, including tennis, basketball, volleyball and soccer. She was already running but eventually decided track was her favorite.
"I feel OK," Okoro said of her double. "I definitely could have executed better. I feel like I was a little too relaxed in both of my races. I'm trying to keep pushing."
Okoro said she's keeping her time goals private but said she has numbers in mind and wants to keep her focus through the end of the season.
Other top performances at the EBAL included Dublin junior Christopher Middleton-Pearson sweeping the boys 1,600 (4:13.90) and 3,200 (9:22.97). Monte Vista junior Kelli Wilson matched that on the girls side, winning the 1,600 in 5:04.22 and the 3,200 in 10:55.52.
De La Salle's Michael Okoye swept the boys shot put (46 feet, nine inches) and discus (140-2). Claire March of Granada matched that on the girls side, winning the shot put at 37-9 and the discus at 120-4. Foothill's Tomas Kersulis doubled up in the 200 (22.46) and 400 (49.68). California's Marshall Lott won the boys triple jump (44-6.25) and high jump (6-4).
Okoro (above) and Middleton-Pearson (right) are shown in Eric Taylor file photos.