PREVIEW San Diego Section Division Championships


SAN DIEGO -- What could be the final weekend of high school track and field in the San Diego Section figures to produce some quality performances-maybe even a record or two.

There is still hope of having a Master's meet on June 19 but that is probably contingent upon the governor opening up the state on June 15, which would allow for the large crowd.

Since that's up-in-the-air, the focus will be on the division championships which for the first-and maybe only-time will be contested in three divisions based on school enrollment.

Here is a look at each of the division championships (all meets begin with field events at 3:30 pm and track events at 5 pm and all three will be streamed lived at beginning at 5 pm).


at Del Norte HS

Although many of the section's top runners are in this large-school division, the focus is on the field events where Rancho Bernardo's Ashley Callahan and Del Norte's Allison Leigh could push one another to a pole vault record. San Pasqual's Elise Miller, the state front-runner in the girls triple jump, also has her sights on the record.

Callahan and Leigh have been going back and forth with Callahan starting with her 13-6, then Leigh, a junior, clearing 13-7 at the Torrey Pines Invitational. She also topped 13-8 in a dual meet.

Although Callahan went 14-feet in a dual meet at San Marcos, it can't count for record purposes because five schools are needed for records, so her 13-9 in the Palomar League finals is her best "official" mark.

"I want 14-feet again," said Callahan who is headed to San Diego State in the fall and is the last CIF-State champion after winning in 2019. "My main focus is 14. I want to stay consistent."

Obviously, if there was a State Meet this year, Westlake's Paige Sommers, the national record-setter at 14-9, would be the huge favorite but Callahan is No. 2 and Leigh's 13-8 is third.

Miller, who will head north to Stanford in the fall, is one of only two triple jumpers in the state over 40-feet, leading the way with her 41-1 at Arcadia.  She's a big-meet competitor and this is a big meet.  Miller is also the No. 1 qualifier in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles.

She will be looking to surpass the section best of 41-8.25 set in 1987 by Mount Miguel's Jackie Anderson.

On the track for boys, look for quality performances from the likes of 1600-meter front-runner Levi Gordon of San Marcos (4:16.47), double hurdle leader Maxwell Jefferson (14.54 and 38.27) of Poway, and 400-meter speedster Adren Parker of Helix (48.05).

The girls will see Poway frosh sensation Tessa Buswell top the 1600 (4:57.89) and Torrey Pines' Annika Salz the front-runner in the 3200 (10:35.93). Poway's Alyssa Bean is in both relays plus the 200 (24.47) and the 400 (56.56).


at Mt. Carmel HS

Like Division I, the field events, specifically the pole vault, will be in the spotlight. 

La Costa Canyon's Garrett Brown will be trying to improve his own section standard which officially is 17-0.75, which he cleared at the Chandler Rotary Invitational in Arizona.

His personal best of 17-1 was in a dual meet.

"To get meets, I had to travel a lot -- to Arizona, Fresno and so forth -- which made this a difficult year," said Brown, who will move on to Stanford next year. There were no invitationals in San Diego. 

"I think it affected the pole vault more than any other event. I'll be looking for 17-2 and if things go right, I think I can clear 17-4."

In support of Brown's contention that the Coronavirus affected the pole vault more than any other event, only two other vaulters -- Clovis North's Cyprus Rice (16-1) and Jesuit's Eltan Goore (16-0) -have even cleared 16 feet.

"I took one jump at the prelims and was done," said Brown, "so I went to a meet at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista the next day and cleared 17-0.75.  I'm ready."

Elsewhere, this division lost two of its brightest stars when Cathedral Catholic's Bryce Brock pulled a hamstring in the 100 and 2019 state champion Katriina Wright of University City withdrew from the 400 for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was battling a reaction to her COVID-19 shots.

Two of the most anticipated events will be the 100 and 300-meter hurdles where state leader Aaliyah McCormick (14.10 and 43.12) of Scripps Ranch goes head-to-head with Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman (14.80 and 43.51) for the third time this season.

West Hills shot putter-discus thrower Brandy Atuatasi, another future Stanford athlete, will attack the section discus record of 167-3 by Mt. Miguel's Laulauga Tausaga in 2016. She hit 162-3 earlier this year, No. 2 on the all-time list.


at Valley Center

This division may not have the depth of the other two, but the front-runners are among the best.

Sage Creek's Bryce Gilmore (8:58.82) and Francis Parker's Kenan Pala (9:02.92) figure to have a 
sizzling battle as both juniors simply have not had the opportunity to run against each other this season. They both qualified in the 1600 as well.

Lincoln's Jahlil Florence (10.77 and windy 22.20) and Madison's Chris Jackson (10.91 and windy 21.95) should settle once and for all who the sprint king is.

There is no doubt coming in who the top girls' sprinter is as Madison Aysha Shaheed is the defending champion in both events, having run 11.76 and 24.73 this year.

With UC's Wright out, Bishop's junior Madeline Cramer leads the section in the 400 at 56.56 and could get a solid push from Crawford's Saniyah Starks who has run 57.26.

Christian's Alaina Zamorano (2:14.96) and Sage Creek's Malia Leupold (2:16.68) are in this division, so look for a quality 800 time.

Field events see section 1-2 high jumpers Julianna Holm (5-7) and Kelly De Jong (5-6) the huge favorites with Sage Creek's Maya Grudman (13-3) just as dominant in the pole vault. Similarly, expect a battle between Christian's Miranda Nichols (40-3 and 126-8) and Valley Center's Jordan Roche (37-10 and 117-9) in the weight events.


Steve Brand is a regular contributor to MileSplitCA and serves as the San Diego Section editor.

Inserted photos by Clark Kranz, Jeffrey Parenti, John Hays.