FILE VIDEO - Watch Audrey Suarez win the 1600m at the CIF-SS Division 4 Championships
ARCADIA -- It didn't take Audrey Suarez long to decide winning a state championship in track, even if it isn't an 'official' California Interscholastic Federation event, is bigger than almost everything else.
Even better than capturing the CIF-State Division V individual cross country crown as a sophomore two years ago, or winning CIF-Southern Section Division IV titles in track?
"Track is a bigger deal because it's all divisions," said the Mayfield High senior who won the girls' 1600-meter run in 4:47.07 at the California State Championship, an invitational meet held at Arcadia High School.
"Winning a Division IV title doesn't mean as much as being the only 1600-meter champion."
This meet filled a gap when the state CIF decided not to have a championship competition for the second straight year because of the Coronavirus pandemic. It was held over two days, with prelims on Friday and finals on Saturday night.
Among the other headliners:
- Mater Dei (SS) junior Domani Jackson equaled the long-held CA record in the 100m of Hawthorne's Henry Thomas in 1985, crossing in 10.25 (1.7).
- Bakersfield Liberty (CS) senior Faith Bender extended her PR in the discus throw with a 173-9 effort during prelims on Friday. That's the best mark in the U.S. this spring.
- Gardena Serra (SS) sophomore Rodrick Pleasant set two CA class records in winning the 200m in 20.59 (-0.3) and placing second in the 100m in 10.32 (1.7).
- Madison (SD) senior Aysha Shaheed was the meet's only double-winner taking the 100m (11.68/1.4) and 200m (24.07/-0.1)
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Just don't try to tell Suarez -- who is moving on to Stanford with her 4.2 GPA in the fall -- that it wasn't a major victory. In her first two high school track seasons, Suarez medaled in the 1600 at the State Meet, placing fifth as a freshman and third as a sophomore while running her PR of 4:45.00.
Audrey Suarez made a huge impact on the CA distance map during her four years at Mayfield. Here's a look at her superlatives at the CIF-SS and CIF-State levels
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2017 XC - 2nd CIF-SS Division 5; 3rd at CIF-State Division V
2018 TF - 2nd CIF-SS Division 4 (800); 2nd CIF-SS D4 (1600); 4th CIF-SS Masters (1600); 5th CIF-State (1600)
2018 XC - 2nd CIF-SS D5; 1st CIF-State DV; Foot Locker Nationals qualifier
2019 TF - 1st CIF-SS D4 (800); 2nd CIF-SS D4 (1600); 1st CIF-SS Masters (1600); 3rd CIF-State (1600)
2019 XC - 1st CIF-SS D5; 3rd CIF-State DV
2021 TF - 1st CIF-SS D4 (1600); 1st CIF-SS D4 (800, 2:11.16 PR); 1st CA Champs (1600)
Saturday night, there was certainly no shortage of competition as Suarez found herself in the unfamiliar position of second place heading into the final 400 meters.
"As a freshman, I ran something like 58-seconds for 400 meters on a relay, and even though I've never run an open 400, I have finishing speed," said Suarez after she overtook La Canada (SS) freshman Arielle McKenzie with 300-meters remaining.
Suarez then used her other senses down the final 100 meters, pulling away in the final 50 meters to win easily.
"I listened to the announcer say they were coming and I knew there were some fast runners," said Suarez. "Then I heard him say I was pulling away. I felt like I had it won but, of course, I didn't ease up.
"I'll bet I had a smile on my face at the finish line."
Yes, indeed she did, having accomplished her season-long goal. While she didn't improve her best time of 4:45.59 clocked in the Southern Section Division 4 championships, that would have been difficult considering the air temperature was north of 90 degrees when the race started.
She noticed as she and the other five medalists asked for just one thing afterward: water.
Suarez, who was the shortest girl in the race at 5-foot-1, said she wanted to win to prove that being diminutive isn't the disadvantage many claim.
"I was watching the U.S Olympic Trials in Oregon and I noticed there were a lot of women athletes between 4-11 and 5-1," she said.
"My main goal here was to win, so I'm not upset with my time. I know some of the athletes chose not to come for whatever reason. I just wanted to race smart."
That 1600 win took a toll, however, as later in the meet Suarez could do no better than fifth in the 800 at 2:10.85 in a race won by Chino's Mia Chavez in 2:08.12. That was still better than her previous best of 2:12.31
This was a victory not just for Suarez, but for all the small-enrollment schools.
Consider that Suarez is the most decorated athlete to ever come out of the all-girls school in Pasadena which this year is celebrating its 90th year of existence.
"Winning at Arcadia is special," said Suarez. "The school is 15 minutes away (from Mayfield) so I was able to have more people come to watch (than if it were in Clovis where the CIF-State Meet is held).
"That makes this state championship the best ever."
Steve Brand is a regular contributor to MileSplitCA.
Cover photo by Josh Barber. Inserted photo by Raymond Tran.