St. Francis girls won both relays including the 400 relay above. (Malcolm Slaney photo)
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Wrapping up the 2021 track and field season with a closer look at each of the CIF sections, highlighting 10 things that impacted the season.
Here we focus on 10 things to note from the Central Coast Section:
1. Bellarmine Distance
As a result of Covid, the Bellarmine boys were denied a chance for a state Division I championship as well as a shot at an NXN title in the fall. They more than made up for those losses during the just-completed Track and Field season. The trio of Colin Peattie and Nolan Topper and Galen Topper all dipped under the 9 minute mark during the season to join a very exclusive club of school's with 3 or more sub 9 minute 3200 meter runners. At the CCS final, Bellarmine rallied late to score 24 points in the 3200 meters which led to another Track and Field team title. Lastly, Nolan Topper finished his season with a spectacular performance at the Brooks PR meet to establish a new section record in the 2 mile at 8:51.83.
The most dominant athlete in any event was Silver Creek senior Charlie Dang. He won his second section title in the discus by nearly 25 feet as he recorded a best of 193-8.5 during the season. That mark put him as the second best discus thrower in California trailing only Ugonna Ikejoifora of Downey who threw 193-10.
From looking at past results, running faster than 4:20 in the 1600m typically put you in contention for a state meet berth with a top 3 finish. This season, 8 boys ended up running faster than 4:20 at the section final making this the fastest 4 lap competition in history. Following a fast early pace set by Scotts Valley junior Jeremy Kain, Bellarmine senior Nolan Topper took over pacing duties and held the lead until being overtaking by Mitty senior Taylor Iden. Iden raced down the stretch only to be overtaking at the finish line by Topper as they recorded 4:07.97 and 4:08.05 bests respectively. Both times surpassed the previous finals championship record of Willow Glen's Mark Stillman who ran 4:08.7 in 1977.
A few sections in California were not able to contest their section final due to complications with Covid. The Central Coast Section admins were determined to contest a section final. Over the past few seasons, Gilroy HS was the host school but Santa Clara County did not approve the site for this season. Thankfully, Santa Cruz County approved Soquel HS as the host and the section final was saved. It should be noted that on the date of the final, the weather at Soquel was fairly mild compared to the mid 90s that were recorded in Gilroy. Whew!
One of the hardest doubles in Track and Field in California is the 400/800 combo. El Camino junior Yutaka Roberts was able to not only navigate the tough double but win both events to record his first two section individual titles. He recorded a best of 49.56 to win the 400 and then with a very short break returned to win the 800 in a PR matching 1:53.32.