San Diego Section Season In Review

 

Kenan Christon swept the sprint titles at State, tying the 100m record in the process. (Pat Rhames photo)

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SAN DIEGO -- You know things are going well when the announcer at the 101st State Track Championships in Clovis makes note that the San Diego Section is having quite a meet.

Quite a year, too.

An unprecedented seven gold medals in Clovis was just the finale of a season that saw section records toppled in two events for a total of five times plus two more equaled.

Leading the way was Madison's Kenan Christon who captured a pair of gold medals for winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Not only did he win, he lowered the previous 200-meter record from 20.97 -- bettering it three straight weeks until he roared to a nation-leading 20.55-seconds in the San Diego Section prelims. In all, he had six races under the old mark, including a 20.69 to capture the state and 20.67 in the section finals.

As for the 100, his wind-legal 10.30 in Clovis equaled the State Meet record set in 1992 by fellow San Diegan Riley Washington while attending Southwest High. Christon also had marks of 10.33, 10.32 and a wind-aided 10.26.

In all he stepped to the line 15 times in the 100 and 13 in the 200, winning all but four races -- double losses at Mt. Carmel and Arcadia that were later reversed.

Headed to USC on a football scholarship, Christon combined speed and power like no one before him.

But he wasn't the only story this season.  Not even close.

After La Costa Canyon's Kristin Fahy, who will be running for Stanford in the fall, nailed down the state Division II cross country title and MileSplitCA Runner of the Year honors, she took dead aim at the year-old section 3,200-meter record of 10:15.97 by former teammate McKenna Brown.

Running fourth at Arcadia, Fahy clocked a 10:15.80 to move Brown to No. 2 on the list. But half the season still remained.

Choosing her races wisely, she used a powerful kick to sprint away from the competition in the section championships, winning in 10:29.35 without breaking a sweat.

While others ran both the 1600 and 3200, she put all her attention toward the 3200 under the steady tutelage of head coach Bill Vice. 

The result was an ultra-confident Fahy who jumped right into the lead in Clovis, maintained a small advantage until 800 meters remained and then steadily pulled away from the state's best distance runners, lowering that section record one more time to 10:11.38, the No. 9 time in the nation.

According to several sources, Rancho Bernardo sophomore Ashley Callahan had been way over 14-feet in practice but she was steady enough to win the state championship at 13-04 after equaling the section record of 13-06 with her victory at the Mt. SAC Invitational.

Since she's only a sophomore, the spotlight will be on the ex-gymnast who cleared 13-feet or better in 13 competitions and wouldn't mind a bit of it was 14 feet on 14 occasions next year.

While she didn't reach either of her goals-5-11 in the high jump or something wind-legal better than 20-7 in the long jump, Coronado's Alysah Hickey was a star nonetheless.

For the second straight year she placed in both events at the State Meet, this time winning the high jump at 5-08 and placing third in the long jump at 19-10.50. Interestingly, the long jump mark was superior to her gold medal effort a year earlier.

She did manage to get a school-record 5-10.50 in the high jump and no less than five horizontal leaps beyond 20-feet, a wind-legal 20-02 and a wind-aided 20-09 at the University City Invitational.

She'll be enrolling at Oregon soon.

Winning at least one of the two events for a state gold medal was expected of Hickey. Not so University City's Katriina Wright whose coach, John Hutsel, opted to bring his 10th-grader along slowly, competing in smaller meets, avoiding the crowds that are Arcadia and Mt SAC.

When it came down to the final kick in the 400 at State, though, no one was fresher -- or faster -- than Wright who gained the lead off the final turn and rolled to the finish line for a personal-best 53.93, achieving her two goals of breaking 54 seconds and hanging a gold medal around her neck.

She immediately set a goal of 52 seconds in 2020.

The most interesting state gold medal claimed by the section had to be the girls' 4x100 relay team from Scripps Ranch.

The foursome of Aubree Bell, Jaymie Ruskovich, Brianna Sproles and Aaliyah McCormick started the season with a 46.93 and then lost Bell and McCormick until the end of the season. Bell got well earlier and when McCormick returned with two weeks remaining, the quartet knocked off the rust with a 46.58 in the section finals.

By then, state-leading Calabasas was out of the picture with Buchanan and Long Beach Poly the main rivals.

After a careful 47.00 in the state prelims, the Falcons Four roared to a 46.51, getting ahead of Buchanan (46.75) which had baton problems and Poly (47.25), which also was anything but smooth, to win going away.

All but Sproles return next year.

Which brings us to some of the other performances, some that set up 2020 in a big way.

How about the boys and girls pole vault for starters? Counting at-large berths, the section sent 11 vaulters to the state championships and five of them advanced to the finals. Callahan won and RB teammate Jacob Rice cleared the same height as the winner in the boys' event with a lifetime best 16-05 but placed second on misses.

Four of the girls cleared 13-feet or better and three underclassmen return. For the boys, eighth place Zach Volpe of San Marcos (15-09) and 16-footer Garrett Brown, a La Costa Canyon sophomore, headline the returning group.

Back to the 11 vaulters-that's almost double the section allotted spots of six.

Then there is San Pasqual sophomore Elise Miller who just got better and better and better. She placed third in Clovis in the triple jump at 40-02, almost duplicating her prelim mark of 40-02.75. She exceeded 40 feet at the section finals, reaching a wind-aided 40-09.

Although she didn't place, Miller also qualified for the long jump finals -- gaining valuable experience for next year.

Almost overlooked because of the front-runners, La Costa Canyon's Caleb Niednagel led the section distance runners to impressive showings. Niednagel, a junior, improved eight seconds and now sits on the cusp of break 9-minutes in the 3200 at 9:01.76, good for fifth.

For the girls, behind Fahy, juniors Carlie Dorostkar (10:26.15 in sixth) of Canyon Crest and Sage Creek's Skyler Wallace (10:33.10 in eighth) recorded PRs and Top 10 finishes. And RB's Jacey Farmer, she with the impressive kick, lowered her 1600 best to 4:53.75 and she still has three years remaining.

Christon will not return but another Madison sprinter, Aysha Shaheed, placed fourth in the 100 (11.71 in the prelims) and sixth in the 200 (24.16 PR) will be back along with Helix's Eric Parker (7th in the 400 at 47.91) and soph Drake Prince (10th in the 800 after posting a PR 1:53.22 in the prelims).

Still others are positioned to make big drops next year like junior hurdler Jarel Sayles (14.63) of Scripps Ranch and soph Brandy Atuatasi of West Hills whose best of 45-01.50 in the shot ranks 7th all-time.

Yes, quite a year.

Coronado's Alysah Hickey closed out her stellar career with a State Meet title in the high jump and another medal in the long jump, flirting with section records in both throughout the season. (Dan Tyree photo)

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