Youth Takes The Lead At Skyline Invitational

All photos from the Skyline Invitational courtesy of Hannah Wohl Sanchez.


OAKLAND -- Track and field is officially underway in the Bay Area as the Skyline Invitational opened up the outdoor season on Saturday.

On the boys side, two athletes with CIF ambitions headlined the meet in rising Lick Wilmerding sophomore Alex Mader and Skyline junior Jonathan Simmons.

Mader won the boys 1600m in a time of 4:31, winning the race by seven seconds. The mark is only three seconds off Mader's personal record of 4:28, a sign that the sophomore is clearly improving.

And considering Mader suffered a stress reaction injury that he sustained in the beginning of fall, he's plenty happy with nearly setting a personal record while currently logging just 18 to 19 miles on three days of running per week coupled with cross-training. Mader is coming off a successful cross country season for Lick Wilmerding, which saw him return from injury in time to place sixth in Division V at the 2019 CIF State Cross Country Championships.

"It went OK," Mader said. "I think I should've just taken it out a little faster -- I did 65 (seconds). I was hoping to do like a 4:25 this race, but it didn't go quite right. But it's fine."

Mader has set the bar high for himself for this track season -- he is aiming to run sub-4:20 for the 1600m and in the low 9-minute range for the 3200m, which would make him one of the fastest sophomores in all of Northern California. His main focus this season will be the 3200m, where he owns a lifetime best of 9:29.

In the sprints, Jonathan Simmons displayed speed that should make him a top contender among athletes in the Oakland Section. Simmons, in front of the home crowd, blasted a 48.9 in the 400m to win the race and set a meet record. The previous record holder was Henry Larkin from Oakland Technical (49.05 in 2018).

That's a personal record for Simmons -- an indicator that the junior is fit early on and that he should be taken seriously among sprinters in the area.

"Honestly, I feel really great about it," Simmons said. "I want to go faster for the rest of the season, hopefully get to State and place high in that."

Simmons took an uncommon approach in the fall. He joined the cross country team to work on his endurance, both physical and mental. Simmons held his own too, running 15:54 for three miles and 16:11 for 5K. He credited his time spent running cross country as a factor into his record-setting performance in the season opener.


Also of note was St. Mary's College junior D'Niko Bates, who swept both the 110 hurdles (15.15) and the 300mH (39.76).

On the girls' side, Washington junior Chloe Williams ran 12.87 -- with a poor start -- to win the 100m. While it's a little bit off her best time of 12.72, Williams is ahead of where she was last season when she ran 13.10 at the 2019 Skyline Invitational. She doubled up in the long jump and placed second with a mark of 17-03.25.

Williams hopes to run 12.00 for the 100m and 24.9 in the 200m, as well as record a 19 to 20 foot long jump. She'll be competing at the Stanford Invitational and Arcadia Invitational, both some of the top meets in California, where she'll have a chance to reach those goals. If she were to hit those marks, it would put Williams near the top in the Bayshore Section.

James Logan junior Sierra Sutton turned in a solid day as well, winning the 200m in 26.29 and placing third in the 400m in 59.90.

"Now that I know I am in a good place, sub-60 place at the beginning of the season," Sutton said. "It really opens things up because last year I wasn't at this time. So the fact that I was at this time this year and I did all of that, it just opens up the possibilities for me to do even better this season. Hopefully qualify for State in the 400m."

Sutton ran 57.69 last year at the NCS Bayshore Championships. In order to reach the elusive California Track and Field Championships, she'll have to run in the 54- to 55- second range.