REVIEW Record-Breaking Season For San Diego Section Girls

The oddity of the 2021 outdoor season did not stop the likes of (l-r) Elise Miller, Ashley Callahan, and Aaliyah McCormick from putting up historic results. (Photos by Angel Pena, DeAnna Turner, Clark Kranz)

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SAN DIEGO -- Three San Diego Section records and five gold medalists in the season-ending California State Championships at Arcadia High -- not a bad haul for a season in which there were no invitationals or official CIF-State Meet for SDS girls track and field athletes.

That certainly didn't bother San Pasqual's Elise Miller, Rancho Bernardo's Ashley Callahan or Scripps Ranch's Aaliyah McCormick who quite simply posted marks that caught the attention of track fans across the state and nation.

Miller, who will continue her career at Stanford, eclipsed one of the oldest section records in the books when she triple-jumped 42-feet, 3.50-inches at the Division I championships. The previous record of 41-8.25 was set in 1987 by Mount Miguel's Jackie Anderson.

Down to her final jump on the warm afternoon at Del Norte High, Miller waited for the wind to calm before speeding down the runway, hitting the takeoff board perfectly, and then hop-step and jumping where no San Diego girl had gone before.

She could celebrate not only achieving her two-year-long quest interrupted by the coronavirus but finally relax after already winning gold medals in the 100-meter hurdles at 14.15, the long jump at 19-9.25, and the high jump at 5-4.

The hurdles time and the long jump were also personal bests. Although it was not a section championship per se -- there were three separate division meets, for one year only -- it still brought to mind the last San Diego-area athlete to capture four events, three-time Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers of Sweetwater High in 1984.


Callahan and junior Allison Leigh of Del Norte battled in the pole vault all year, each claiming the section record for a period of time.

At the CIF-SDS Division I Championships, Callahan had her first miss at 14-feet and when Leigh cleared on her first try, she took the record Callahan had set at 13-9 in the league championships.

When the bar went to 14-3, though, Leigh barely missed but Callahan cleared, setting off a wild celebration in the pit. But wait, when the bar was moved to 14-6, Callahan again soared over --celebration No. 2.

The San Diego State signee had a near-miss at the national record of 14-9.25, brushing the bar off with her hands after getting her body over.

Callahan went to a pole vault meet in Menifee the following weekend, hoping to face national record-holder Paige Sommers (14-9) of Westlake, but Sommers opted to compete in the Olympic Trials. The RB senior called it a season even though, as it turned out, Sommers returned to California for the Arcadia meet which she won at a very vulnerable 13-8.


The final record-setter, McCormick, took advantage of ideal conditions in the Division II championship at Mt. Carmel to clock what would end up being the CA best for the season, 13.85 seconds, in the 100-meter hurdles.

A junior, McCormick took down the section record of 13.86 clocked by Cathedral Catholic's Dani Johnson in 2015.

The uncertainty of the season displayed itself in a big way when McCormick revealed the family had made plans to visit Texas when it appeared the divisional meets would end the season, so she did not run in the SD Open or at the finale at Arcadia.


--San Diego High junior Charlize James taking advantage of McCormick's absence to keep the championship in the section when she rolled to a time of 14.15 at the Arcadia season-finale. Think of the great showdowns between McCormick and James next season.

--Madison's Aysha Shaheed was the lone double champion at Arcadia as the Cal-bound senior won the 100 in a PR 11.61 before surprising the field in the 200, not her favorite event, winning in 24.07, another personal best.

--Sage Creek junior Stormy Wallace had an up and down season but on the warm evening at Arcadia, no one was close in the 3200-meter final after she made a bold move early and continued to pull away, posting her best time ever of 10:31.65. Wallace not only celebrated the win but a school record as she topped the best by her sister, Skyler, who ran 10:33.10 two years ago. In this event, like the boys 3200, state and national leader Mia Barnett of Crescenta Valley chose not to compete.

--Although she was among the top five in the state in the shot put all season, Del Norte's Noelle Elkinton was not the favorite -- that honor went to Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's Hope Gordon. But on this day at Arcadia, no one was better than Elkinton, the Cornell-bound senior who hit 42-11.25 to have a gold medal draped around her neck.

--It was also a strange year for 2019 state 400-meter champion Katriina Wright of University City. She won at Arcadia in 54.24 but she had severe reactions to both of her COVID-19 shots. Then, days before the Western League championships at UC, tragedy struck when one of her teachers had a heart attack and passed away in the classroom. Understandably, Wright decided to call it a season. She'll continue her career at the University of Oregon.  

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