PREVIEW San Diego Section Open Championship

Madison's Aysha Shaheed (left) goes after CIF-San Diego Section Open Championships sprint titles on Saturday at University City HS. (Raymond Tran photo)





SAN DIEGO -- What if they had a track season where the best athletes in each event never had the opportunity to go head-to-head?

That's exactly what the San Diego Section was facing this spring until the coaches got together and added the San Diego Section Open Championships, which will be held Saturday at University City High.

Because of the coronavirus and state restrictions, every invitational was either canceled or was restricted to just four teams. Then the traditional section championships were split into three divisions instead of two, again denying some of the best competitors from being pushed.

All this came after the State CIF canceled the state track and field championships in Clovis.

Once the numbers of new COVID-19 cases dropped dramatically, it seemed that some type of championship could be salvaged and when the governor announced that most restrictions would be eliminated June 15, the move to have the Open Championships became reality.

As a result, here are some of the much-anticipated showdowns:

--There really wasn't much doubt who the fastest boys' sprinter was until Cathedral Catholic junior Bryce Brock (10.56) pulled a hamstring in the Division 2 prelims.  What remains is a predicted close race among Valhalla's Ian Lipsey (10.74), Lincoln Jahlil Florence (10.77), Mission Hills' Kyle Smith (10.80) and Madison's Chris Jackson (10.80).

--Two of the section's young standouts, Poway freshman Tessa Buswell (4:56.90) and Mira Mesa sophomore Mallory Asis (4:59.33) go against Torrey Pines junior Annika Salz (4:57.48) in what promises to be a hot 1600 finale.   

--Similar to the boys 100, the girls 100 hurdles will be missing section record-setter Aaliyah McCormick of Scripps Ranch (13.85), who made plans to go to Texas before this meet became a reality, but still features a showdown between San Diego's Charlize James (14.25) and Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman (14.47).

--Poway junior Alyssa Bean will get an opportunity to lower her times in both the 200, where her 24.14 will match up well against the 24.30 run by Madison's Aysha Shaheed, and the 400, where her 55.68 and Bishops' Madeline Cramer's 55.86 should produce a very close finish.  

--Relays always benefit from competition, so don't leave early as the boys 4x400 features five schools under 3:27 led by Poway's 3:23.80. Carlsbad (3:24.01) suffered its first loss of the season to the Titans. Mt. Carmel (3:24.70) and Cathedral Catholic (3:26.49) had a torrid race in the DII finals and return.

--Just as leaving early isn't recommended, arriving late would be a mistake as five girls 4x100 relay teams have dipped under 49 seconds with Cathedral Catholic having run 48.03 early but posting the same time as rapidly improving Madison-48.12-in the divisionals. Add in Helix (48.51), Poway (48.61) and Mission Hills (48.72) and the potential for a sub-48 is real.

Not that the other events aren't worth the price of admission.

Pole vaulters rave about the UC facility which means La Costa Canyon's Garrett Brown could easily push his state-leading and section record 17-2 into the No. 1 spot in the nation, which is currently 17-3. His best is almost three feet ahead of the next-best competitor.

San Pasqual's Elise Miller will focus on three field events, dropping the 100-hurdles. With the weight of breaking the section record and 42-feet in one jump at 42-3.50 at the Division 1 championships, she just might add lots to that mark. She's looking to approach 20-feet in the long jump, where she's gone 19-4.25.

Miller barely missed 5-6 in the high jump and wants to give that another shot.

Then there's the always unpredictable wind possibly being a factor as West Hills' Brandy Atuatasi takes aim at the section record of 167-3 in the discus where she has a best of 162-3.  Five foot improvements in this event are not unusual.

With warmer weather predicted and a late start (3:30 field, 5 p.m. track), this one figures to be very special in a competition-starved section.


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

Photos by Angel Pena and Raymond Tran.