Rancho Bernardo junior Ashley Callahan is the defending State champion in the pole vault. (DeAnna Turner)
SAN DIEGO -- Quite simply, it's going to be next to impossible for the San Diego Section to improve upon or match the record-setting 2019 season where the haul of gold medals at the state track meet was unprecedented.
The Southern Section and its 600-plus schools might not consider special something like seven gold medals but just three years ago the San Diego Section had zero trips to the top of victory stand-boys or girls.
Looking back to 2019, the section got off to flying start when the Scripps Ranch girls captured the 4x100 relay in 46.51 seconds (image at right). That foursome of Aubree Bell, Jaymie Ruskovich, Aaliyah McCormick and Brianna Sproles loses only Sproles.
Don't bet against the Falcons finding a fourth member quickly.
It only got better after that, highlighted by the sprint double of Madison's Kenan Christon, who equaled the state meet 100-meter dash record of 10.30 set by San Diego Southwest's Riley Washington in 1992 before adding on the 200 in a windy 20.69 after setting the section record of 20.55 earlier in the season.
Christon, of course, moved on to USC where he had a quality football season and is expected to compete on the Trojans' track team.
Although gold medals also went to seniors Kristin Fahy of La Costa Canyon in the 3200 at 10:11.38 and Alysah Hickey of Coronado in the high jump at 5-8, a pair of spectacular underclassmen will be in the spotlight for 2020.
- Top 10 Returning Boys Per Event
- Top 10 Returning Girls Per Event
- 2019 San Diego Section Finals Results
Rancho Bernardo junior Ashley Callahan not only captured the state pole vault by clearing 13-4, she equaled the San Diego Section record at Mt. SAC when she soared over 13-6. Callahan won the Reno Pole Vault Summit in January at 13-4, just missing her second try at 13-7 and most recently won the title at the Winter Championships, clearing 13-5.
With pole vault guru Tom Martin still at RB, you can expect something closer to 13-9 or 14-feet this season. Callahan has said 14 is her goal.
Then there is University City junior Katriina Wright, who laid low until the end of the season and then ran away with the state 400-meter title in 53.93 seconds. Coach John Hutsel picked his meets selectively to give Wright (at right) the best possible opportunity at state and it worked.
Much has happened elsewhere to give San Diego Section track fans hope for even more outstanding performances and possible trips to the medal stand..
Canyon Crest's Carlie Dorostkar placed sixth a year ago in the 3200 at 10:26.15 but her performance at the 2019 state cross country championships, where she posted the fastest overall time, and at the Nike Nationals, where she was the first California finisher in sixth, portend a huge season.
In fact, the section record of 10:11.38 by Fahy may last just one year under the onslaught of Dorostkar, the MileSplit California Female Runner of the Year.
One of the most versatile athletes returning for the state meet will be Escondido San Pasqual's Elise Miller who finished third in the triple jump at 40-feet-02, just short of her prelim mark of 40-02.75. Miller also made the state long jump finals at 18-10.50 and during the season competed in the 100 meters (14.94) and 300 hurdles (45.65).
Although Christon was the top Madison sprinter, Warhawks teammate Aysha Shaheed (below) returns for her junior year after placing fourth in the state 100 at 11.71 and sixth in 200 after running 24.21 in the prelims.
There is every possibility La Costa Canyon's Caleb Niednagel, who had the unfortunate luck of contracting a serious flu that cost him dearly toward the end of the 2019 cross country season, will be the section's next sub-9-minute 3200-meter runner. Niednagel (No. 2 below) ran 9:01.76 a year ago.
Another cross country standout, Sage Creek's Skyler Wallace, was eighth in the girls 3200 but improved immensely while leading the Bobcats to a record-setting victory in the state cross country championships.
Just a hunch, but La Costa Canyon pole vaulter Garrett Brown (16-feet in 2019) and Helix quarter-miler Eric Parker (47.91) could have big years. Pushing Brown, who PR'd at Reno with a 16-2 for second place, will be San Marcos' Zach Volpe, who was eighth in the state last year at 15-9.
There very well could be others -- West Hills' shot putter Brandy Atuatasi (45-01.50), Chula Vista High Tech half-miler Drake Prince (1:53.22) and Rancho Bernardo middle-distance runner Jacey Farmer (2:13.15 in the 800 and 4:53.75 in the 1600) -- are all capable of major improvements.
SDS KEY DATES/MEETS
March 7---Meb Keflezighi Invite
Photos by Clark Kranz, Jeffrey Parenti, DeAnna Turner