Watch Mia Barnett run the 800 meters for Crescenta Valley High at the Don Green Memorial Track Meet
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Updated 3/21 at 7 a.m. to add details
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MOORPARK -- Saturday was a historic day in the world of California high school cross country and track and field. Meets were held in both sports -- on the first day of spring!
While league championships and various other collections of cross country meets were held across the Golden State, as that bizarre of all seasons winds down, the folks at Moorpark High pulled off a bit of a jaw-dropper, playing host to the Don Green Memorial Track Meet with 41 teams and 564 athletes!
And they appeared to have pulled it off without a glitch or a sneeze behind all of those many face coverings.
It had long ago been decided that there would be a one-week overlap in the schedule between what became a winter cross country season and the spring track season. The surprising part wasn't that cross country was still on the course, but that there was actually a track meet.
Rob Dearborn, athletic director and track coach at Moorpark High, is the magician who pulled it off.
"We saw the opportunity through Ventura Public Health that they had an application process to host an invitational sporting event and so we applied for that about three weeks ago and we were granted permission by Public Health to hold the event," Dearborn said Saturday. "So, I think we just pushed the envelope a little bit."
Three of the 10 sections in California have already canceled Season 2 championships (which includes track and field) and coaches across the state aren't certain just yet what this track season will look like as we sit now just over a year after the 2020 season was shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. While the state continues to see case rates dropping allowing for a more accelerated return to activities, scheduling for track and field coaches remains a challenge because the risks of large gatherings are viewed differently across micro-pockets of the state.
In Ventura County, at least for one day, the go-ahead Dearborn received allowed the staff at Moorpark to play host to its annual meet, albeit at about just 20 percent capacity. Athletes were required to have had a negative test for COVID-19 in order to compete. Everyone in the stadium was required to wear masks with the lone exception being athletes during competition. Metal bleachers in the stadium were taped off to help maintain appropriate social distancing.
If this meet were a litmus test for being able to conduct an invitational that is safe, competitive, and, well, feels a lot like the good old days, this was the gold standard.
Dearborn said the application to Ventura Public Health was for 1,000 athletes.
"We were totally fine with what we had," he said. "It was the first meet around and somebody had to start somewhere.
"I think a big percentage of our parents were very cooperative today, wore their masks all day. That was the number one thing sitting in the stands. I think our kids were equally as responsible. It's a good step to show that track kids are responsible. It's outdoors and I think if we can play football and soccer outdoors, there's no reason that we shouldn't be able to have these types of events in track and field."
The meet had a smattering of returning elite athletes among the many races, including 800-meter personal records by Mia Barnett, competing in her first event for Crescenta Valley, and Boise State-bound Angus Fitzgerald of Royal, two days after he won his league's cross country title while leading his team to victory. His classmate Matthew Russell was second in the 800 race in 1:59.10.
Barnett, signed to compete at the University of Virginia, is a two-time State Meet medalist at 1,600 meters and is the current CA No. 1 and U.S. No. 2 for 3,200 meters (10:15.82, dropped running unattached at the February 27 open Sundown Track Series Meet #2 held in Mesa, Arizona).
Here, Barnett made her first race wearing the Falcons powder blue singlet, the 800. Barnett said she came in looking to better her previous PR -- which she did in 2:09.49 -- and also use the race to determine if the two-lapper is an event the heretofore longer distance specialist will continue to run.
"I think 800 is up there now because that felt really smooth," she said.
Barnett won three consecutive CIF-Southern Section Division V cross country titles while at Sun Valley Village Christian but transferred to neighboring Crescenta Valley, a much larger school, during winter break a year ago with designs of competing in track for the Falcons as a junior last spring. Because of the CIF's sit-out rule, she wasn't able to compete for CV before the COVID-19 shutdown, and she didn't compete this winter in cross country. So, Saturday, some 15 months later, Barnett finally got to represent Crescenta Valley.
"It feels good to wear the jersey and be out here with some teammates," she said.
The event was divided into freshman/sophomore divisions and junior/senior divisions. Among the older group, there were four who doubled in individual events and two boys who won an individual event and ran as part of a winning relay team.
Asjah Atkinson, a senior at Long Beach St. Anthony headed to Cal, won the long jump (18-6.50/NWI) and the 100-meter hurdles (14.40/1.7). (Amira Hawkins, a senior at North Torrance, was second in the hurdles race in 14.56). Atkinson was the Southern Section Masters champion in the 100 hurdles in 2019 and placed third at State that year in the hurdles and sixth in the long jump.
Sara Pettinger, a senior at Mission Viejo (SS) also headed to Cal, won both of the throws in a double-PR day, hitting 43-01 in the shot put and 144-01 in the discus throw.
Cade Moran, a junior at Murrieta Mesa (SS), also won both throws, also a double-PR day, going 55-00 in the shot and 155-03 in the discus.
Jahzara Richardson, a senior at Oaks Christian (SS), won the 100-meter dash (12.24/1.3) and the 200 (24.91/2.6). Shelby Richmond, a junior at Thousand Oaks (SS), was second in the deuce (25.01).
William Mullins, a junior at LA Cathedral (SS) won the 400 in 50.05 and anchored the winning 4x400 relay team (3:38.55). Host Moorpark was a close second in the relay (3:39.70).
Xayvion Perkins, a senior at Chaminade (SS), won the 300-meter hurdles in 38.94 with Zachary Winger of Calabasas next in 40.14. Cathedral senior Anthony Taylor, among the state's elite returning hurdlers, was limited by a hamstring injury. He still placed third in 41.85 but did not run in the 110 highs. That race was won by La Canada St. Francis junior Dario Rock (PR of 14.85/2.0) with Sacramento State-bound Winger second (15.02) and Perkins third (15.04). (Both marks are PRs for Winger.)
Daniel Sarisky, a senior at Thousand Oaks (SS), won the 100-meter dash in 11.03 (2.0) with teammate Colin Quinn third in 11.16 (1.7). Those two were part of the winning 4x100 relay team (44.00). Sarisky was third in the 200 (22.51) behind Cathedral senior Steven Marks (PR of 22.20), with Quinn fourth (22.58). (Both marks are PRs for Quinn.)
- Jill Walker, a senior at Simi Valley (SS) headed to the University of New Hampshire who is a two-time Southern Section Masters Meet qualifier for 3,200, in the girls 1,600 (5:13.79)
- Garrett Brown, a senior at Carlsbad La Costa Canyon (SD) headed to Stanford who is the current CA and U.S. No. 1 in the boys pole vault, won with a height of 16-5. He had three attempts at 16-8.25.
- Quynh Gedney, a senior at Moorpark who was a Southern Section Masters Meet finalist as a sophomore, won the girls high jump (5-0)
- Gabrielle Pack, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula (SS), in the girls pole vault (12-0)
- Ava Ball, a junior at Moorpark, with a 48.42 PR in the 300-meter hurdles
- Rowan Fitzgerald, a junior at Crescenta Valley, in the boys 1,600 (4:25.24)
- Noah De La Rionda, a sophomore at Royal, won the boys 3,200 (10:09.41) with Heritage Christian senior Dylan Brown second in 10:10.05
- While his state record-setting sister, Paige, did not compete, Westlake freshman Cade Sommers won the freshman/sophomore boys pole vault in a huge PR of 13-3
- INTERVIEWS - JILL WALKER | GARRETT BROWN | CADE SOMMERS