When first looking at the 2020 track and field season in the Sac-Joaquin Section, the default is to focus on the two returning state champions: Jesuit senior Matt Strangio and Stockton St. Mary's senior Jamar Marshall.
Strangio won the 1600 meter title at the State Meet (a year after winning the 3200) and Marshall won the 110 hurdles in record time. Marquee performers, without question.
Look a bit deeper, however, and what really jumps out about the SJS heading into the 2020 spring season is the incredible returning depth.
From the 2019 SJS Masters Meet, there are 11 returning champions out of the 14 individual events for girls and 10 returning champions among the boys. In 2017, there were only six returning girls and three among the boys. In 2018, there were seven returners in each gender.
When drawing out 2019 results six places deep, the section's returning depth in 2020 is even more clear. Among girls who placed among the top six, 62 percent were non-seniors. That number is just one percentage point lower for returning boys.
There are 11 returning State Meet medalists (top-6 finish) from the SJS among the boys and five among the girls.
Strangio, who has signed with the University of Portland, has PRs of 4:08.07 for 1600 meters and 8:47.97 for 3200 meters. Those marks rank No. 2 in the state behind Newbury Park's Nico Young, No. 3 U.S. for 3200 and No. 6 U.S. for 1600. Strangio also took home a third-place medal from State in the 3200 (8:57.69).
Marshall, who has signed with Arizona State, ran the fastest 110-meter hurdles race by a California high schooler when he went 13.22 (1.5) last summer at the USATF U20 Championships. His windy 13.31 (3.3) to win the CIF-State Meet title last May, is the fastest all-conditions time in State Meet history, which also had ranked No. 1 on the state list before the U20s. His wind-legal 13.50 (0.4) from the SJS divisionals ranks as the top returning wind-legal time in the U.S.
While Marshall's best results have come in the 110s, he still placed third at State in the 300s and his 36.74 PR (from State prelims) ranks No. 2 U.S. among returners. He won the section title in the 300s as a sophomore.
Strangio and Marshall aren't the only two returning boys with two medals from last springs State Meet. Del Oro senior Ryan Mulholland, the section champion the 100- and 200-meter sprints, took third and fourth, respectively, at the State Final.
Other returning State Meet medals are Jesuit senior Chase Gordon, who was a close second in the 800 (1:51.74), Monterey Trail junior Camden Wheeler, who was fifth in the 400 (47.45), Kimball senior Allan Hunter, who was second in the long jump (23-09.25/4.2), River Valley senior John Kroeger, who was third in the long jump (23-06.25) and Oak Ridge senior Tyler Burns, who was sixth in the pole vault (15-05.00).
Other State Meet finalists included Del Oro senior Caiden Macktinger (pole vault), Pleasant Grove senior Andrew Jackson (800), Whitney senior Austin Vasquez (3200), Stockton St. Mary's sophomore Jadyn Marshall, Jamar's brother (110 hurdles), and Tracy senior Jason Reyes (discus).
Returning section champions include Kennedy senior Pita Vi
(300 hurdles), Kroeger (long jump), Hunter (triple jump), and Oakdale senior Ben Chappell
(discus throw). (Chappell just won a second consecutive weight throw title at the CA Winter Championships.)
The list of other top boys returners includes (but is not limited to) Sonora senior Joziah Bradford
(triple jump), Davis senior Zeno Castiglioni
(distances), Ponderosa senior Cameron Cole
(triple jump), Sierra senior Holden Fishburn
(throws), Dixon senior Marcus Gelpi
(high jump), Kimball senior David Hunter
(triple jump), Merrill West senior Brandon Lindner
(triple jump), Pioneer junior Mason Mitchell
(long jump), Capital Christian senior Darien Semedo
(throws), Colfax senior Preston Sladek
(pole vault), Jesuit junior Spencer Pickren
(distances), Vacaville sophomore Kellen Steplight
(distances), Whitney senior Joey Souto
(400), Golden Valley senior Avery Townsel
(triple jump), and Vacaville senior Jeremy Villalobos
Among the five medals won by SJS girls at the State Meet, Vista del Lago then-junior Ceonna Pipion
had the top placing. Pipion (pictured)
, a two-time SJS champion in the 400 meters, placed third at state in the one-lap race. She also reached the 200m final but did not medal.
Also, Del Oro sophomore Riley Chamberlain -- now a two-time State Division III champion in cross country -- placed fourth at State in the 3200, Sacramento St. Francis senior Isabella Fauria (pictured at right)
was fourth in the 800,
Whitney junior Sydney Johnson
was fifth in the long jump and St. Francis junior Reyna Johnson
was fifth in the 100 hurdles.
The returning SJS Masters champions are Christian Brothers sophomore Columba Effiong (100 and 200), Pipion (400), Fauria (800 and 1600), Chamberlain (3200), Reyna Johnson (100 hurdles), Aanenson
(long jump), Vanden senior Sameerah Evans
(triple jump), Oakdale junior Emma Harper
(discus), and Toilolo
(shot, for a second year in a row).
The list of other top girls returners, based on placing at the 2019 SJS Masters, includes (but is not limited to): Cosumnes Oaks senior Markayla Billings
(discus), Bella Vista sophomore Isabella Chilcutt
(high jump), Monterey Trail senior India Collins
(hurdles), Christian Brothers junior Malia Gay
(800), Granite Bay senior Jada Harper
(jumps), Cosumnes Oaks junior Natalie Harper
(distances), Davis junior Shay Hawkes
(high jump), El Dorado senior Madison Hutchings
(distances), Forest Lake senior Amber Jackson
(distances), St. Francis sophomore Cate Joaquin
(distances), Rio Americano senior Sophia Karperos
(distances), Vista del Lago senior Sky Kezmoh
(pole vault; the 2018 SJS winner), Oakdale senior Angelica Lowry
(shot), Kennedy junior Giovannini Miana (400), Vacaville junior Makayla Oliver (sprints), Cosumnes Oaks junior Kaliyah Poston (sprints), Bella Vista junior Rachel Radcliff (jumps), Davis senior Elena Siemens (pole vault), Vista del Lago junior Anna Vogtmann (distances), and Ponderosa sophomore Natalie Wieland (distances).
Not to be forgotten among the Vista del Lago girls is a converted soccer player who had a jaw-dropping initial season in cross country by the name of Alexandra Klos. Among her seven races during the fall season, Klos, a sophomore, beat Chamberlain at Capital Cross, nearly beat Buchanan star Corie Smith at Clovis (placing second), won the SJS Division 2 title, won the State Division II title and was a top-30 finisher at Nike Cross Nationals. It will be interesting to see what she can do on the oval.