RECAP Nordenholz, Salcido Double Highlights Fiesta At Dublin

Without debate, the stars of Saturday's Dublin Social Distance Fiesta Meet #2 were Sophia Nordenholz and Ajani Salcido

Nordenholz, a junior at Albany (NC), and Salcido, a senior at Jesuit (SJ), each took on strong fields in the 1600- and 3200-meter races and won them both. 

Salcido, who has been untouchable this season, led three others across the line in the 1600, shattering a meet record that had stood since 2009! 

Nordenholz threatened both of the records held by Gillian Wagner of Redwood (NC), missing the mark in the 1600 by .51 and the mark in the 3200 by .37. 

And while Salcido's eight-lap showcase to close the 83-race event, was well off the epic 8:47.97 benchmark established by Matt Strangio of Jesuit (SJ) in 2019, it still was one of two sub-9s in a highly competitive race. 

For the day, Nordenholz went 4:55.86 and 10:29.83 while Salcido doubled in 4:09.95 and 8:56.57. 



The yeoman efforts to make a meet like this happen -- and happen safely -- by Dublin coach and meet director Chris Williams, and the indefatigable spirit brought all-day-and-into-the-night by Scott Abbott on the PA, was reflected race after race after race in the pure joy displayed by athletes throughout the idyllic day. 

"It was fun," said Bellarmine College Prep senior Nolan Topper. "This has been the best meet of the year so far, at least. And it's extremely good to be back."

With the DJ cranking tunes from 11 am until well after 8 pm, and hand-made sombreros awaiting the fastest of each of the events, girls 1600s took the track first with the "Sombrero Heat" where Nordenholz and Audrey Allen battled at the front throughout before Nordenholz closed strong for the first of what would be a double-sombrero day for her. Allen, a UCLA-bound senior from Miramonte (NC) was second in 4:58.48.

A duo from Oak Ridge (SJ), Ava Maier, a junior, and Quinn Walker, a sophomore were next in 5:02.42 and 5:02.78, respectively. Emma Dunmire, a junior from Tamalpais (NC), was next in 5:03.47, with senior Maya Lacamp from Lick Wilmerding (NC) sixth in 5:05.35. Those times rank between Nos. 8 and 32 on the CA statewide list. 

Also from the 13 sections of the girls 1600m, Ashley Busienei, a junior from Maria Carrillo (NC), won Race 12 and was 10th overall in the merge in 5:16.06, and Oak Ridge sophomore Brooke Butler was right behind her in the penultimate section, in 5:16.49. 

The 1600 was a showcase for a handful of freshmen as Kayla Towne of St. Francis (SJ) was ninth overall in 5:13.63, Annie Pflaum of Menlo-Atherton was 16th in the merge in 5:19.63, Ava Kopec of Whitney (SJ) won her section in 5:21.40 and ranked 19th in the merge, followed in the overall by Katelyn Espino of Foothill in 5:21.83 and Tauren Mitchell of Westmont (CC) in 5:22.43. All those 2024s currently rank among the top 26 in the class in CA. 


In winning the 1600m, Salcido showed his strength in powering away from a strong field in record fashing. Taylor Iden, a senior at Archbishop Mitty (CC), won the sprint to the line to earn second in 4:14.26, just nosing out a trio of seniors from Bellarmine College Prep (SJ): Colin Peattie, who was third in 4:14.66, Nolan Topper, who was fourth in 4:16.71, and Galen Topper, who was fifth in 4:19.80. 

Salcido's winning time of 4:09.95 ranks third in CA and first among those competing on Golden State soil. The marks were also PRs for Iden and both Toppers. 

Ashraf Abdelmagid, a senior at Dougherty Valley (NC), won section 19 (of 20) in 4:21.26 to rank ninth in the merge, the highest finish among those not in the final "Sombrero Heat."

While the 800s did not produce, or really threaten, meet standards, they were a showcase of top two-lap stars from the Bay Area. 

USC-bound Isabelle Cairns of St. Francis (CC), a two-time CIF-State Meet qualifier in the two-lap race, was less than a second off her 2018 PR with a CA No. 6 time of 2:13.72. In chase was Evelyn Ruckmann-Barnes, a freshman from Granada (NC), whose 2:16.32 ranks CA No. 3 in the class. Tatiana Cornejo, a junior at St. Francis (SJ), looked strong in winning an earlier section in 2:18.75 to rank fifth in the merge behind Lauren Yee, a junior at Acalanes (NC), who was third overall in 2:17.67, and Samira Kennedy, a sophomore at Castilleja (CC), who was fourth in 2:18.66.

Another Granada freshman, Jana Barron, was sixth in the Sombrero Heat and seventh in the merge in 2:21.46, and the aforementioned Towne won her section in 2:21.48 and was eighth in the merge.


In the boys 800, John Lester, a senior at Amador Valley (NC), was efficient in his 1:54.51 victory, which now slots CA No. 5. Jonathan Simmons, a senior at Skyline (OK) was next in 1:56.43, getting the lean on Jack Vanden Heuvel, a senior at Healdsburg (NC), who crossed in 1:56.52, and Caden Carney, a junior at Tamalpais (NC), who timed in at 1:56.68. 

Lester, who has Olympic-qualifying aspirations, said he was sidelined from December into March with a stress reaction in his fibula that restricted his training. 

"I'm just continuing to get back into it, get better every day," he said after his 800. "The top-end speed is definitely something that week by week I'm working to get back into. It takes time. I'm just trying to be patient with it and continue to work on that." 

Lester's time is a season best but a bit off his PR from last summer of 1:48.26.


The challenge in the girls 3200 was how much Nordenholz had left following her impressive win in the 1600 earlier in the day, against a field that included a fresh Harper McClain, a senior from St. Helena (NC), a fresh Shae Hill, a senior from Granada (NC), and another battle with Allen. 

At four minutes into the race, Nordenholz surged to the front, created separation from McClain, and held that position to the end as the field spread out behind her. Nordenholz closed roughly in 80 and 75 for her 10:29.83, which ranks CA No. 5 (No. 3 on Golden State soil). McClain was next in 10:43.57, holding off Allen, who crossed in 10:43.92, completing a double-PR day. Hill was fourth in 10:50.88. 

Hill's teammate, the aforementioned Barron, was the top ninth-grader, crossing in 11:19.30 to rank 11th in the merge of the six eight-lap races. That time ranks CA No. 6 in the 2024 class. 


The boys 3200 was a familiar group at the top. The week before, Jesuit and Bellarmine went mano-a-mano in an epic distance medley relay in the DAL Distance meet held at Campolindo HS. Salcido anchored and held off Galen Topper in a race that produced the two fastest DMR times in CA and Nos. 2 and 3 nationally. 

A week later, those guys are back on the track for two more epic races. And, as with the 1600m, it was Salcido emerging with the win, holding off a charging Galen Topper (8:59.29), and a parade of Nolan Topper (9:03.57), Colin Peattie (9:07.15), and Jesuit junior Braden King (9:07.67). 

Salcido's 8:56.57 is a massive PR and ranks CA No. 2. Galen Topper is CA No. 4. Those are the top two times run on California soil this season. And it was a double-PR day for both runners, and a double-sombrero day for Salcido. 

"I just wanted to stick with the top group and when I felt comfortable, just go," Salcido said of his 3200 strategy. "It was my first 3200 in a long time, so just how I feel."


"I came out here and knew I wanted to do both events because we haven't had many opportunities to get good competition," Salcido said at the end of his night. "I knew I had to give it all in both events. I'd never doubled before. It was my first time and I felt good about both events.

"I'm excited for future meets. This was definitely exciting today."

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