RECAP Leigh, Evans Go Big at Don Jones Bronco Invite

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego has become the pole vault Mecca in the state.

The Border City appears just as strong this year as last when La Costa Canyon's Garrett Brown dominated, soaring a San Diego Section record at 17-feet, 2-inches.

For the girls, Rancho Bernardo's Ashley Callahan (14-6) and Del Norte's Allison Leigh (14-0) were behind only Westlake's Paige Sommers (14-9) in the Golden State.

Leigh got off to a solid started at the Don Jones Bronco Invitational at Rancho Bernardo HS on Saturday, and needed every vault to hold off Scripps Ranch's Lexi Evans, as both seniors cleared 13-7 with near-misses at 14-1.

The meet record was 12-7 by RB's Emily Mattoon in 2008 but Poway junior Evangeline Thomson joined Leigh and Evans erasing that mark by clearing 13-1. The marks were PRs for both Evans and Thomson.

Leigh's 14-0 clearance at the San Diego Section Division 1 Final last spring ranks No. 5 in state history. At 13-7, Evans is now tied for CA No. 12 all-time. Thomson is the 15th girl from San Diego to enter the 13-foot club.

Girls pole vault wasn't the only strong event as the Bronco showed as the SDS now has three 100-meter hurdlers under 15 seconds as Scripps Ranch's Aaliyah McCormick joined San Diego's Charlize James (14.64) and Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman (14.97) by setting another meet-best by winning in 14.69.

The previous best in the meet's 38-year history was 15.06 by Granite Hills' Laiah Blue in 2004.

Two other meet records tumbled in the girls 4x400 relay where Poway sped to a 3:58.25, three seconds faster than Morse ran in 1996, and the high jump where Chula Vista Eastlake's Macaria Moore-Bastide cleared 5-7, an inch higher than Santa Fe Christian's Abby Phillips cleared in 2019.

But the pole vault was front and center as the bar inched higher and higher.

For Leigh, whose 14-0 clearance last season was the top returning mark in the state and among the elites in the nation, it was an especially major performance.

"I used four different poles on my last four clearances," said the UCLA-bound senior, noting that a group called Ultimate loaned her several heavier poles that she immediately christened with impressive attempts, clearing 12-7 on her second try, then 13-1 and 13-7 on her first effort.

"I felt like I was over at 14-1 but I was a little under on my plant. I am so stoked with these poles because they're longer. For three meets I just blew through lower heights on the old poles but now I'm really looking for 15-feet this year."

She'll compete in the Falcon Invitational at Torrey Pines before moving on to Arcadia and then Mt. SAC.

"I still have never been to the State Meet after missing as a freshman, so that's a big one, too," she added.

As for McCormick, she's really looking forward to the showdown in less than two weeks with James and Coleman at Mt. Carmel.

"That (the 14.69) is a good start to the season -- I was hoping for something in the low 14s -- but I could tell my lead leg was high over the hurdles," said the Scripps Ranch senior. "My start was OK, but I can make a lot of improvement.

"I like the competition but in the end it's myself and my time that matters because those are the only things I have control over. It's just the start and it felt great."

As for Poway's 4x400 relay team, sophomore Alyssa Bean anchored the Titans in 56.9 seconds and it looks like they might be able to go considerably faster.

Claire Blanco led off at 1:01.5, followed by Indiana Langford at 59.9and Tessa Buswell at 59.8. Bean simply ran away from all the other anchor runners. 

On the boys' side, six runners broke 1:59 in the 800 with Grossmont's Ian Rosen leading the way at 1:56.62 -- just in front of San Marcos' Quinn Harder, who clocked a 1:56.95.

In 1600, Point Loma's Manuel Correia led for much of the race, faded back to fourth, and then with 250 meters remaining, he took off and set a school-record 4:16.64.

Other top performances included:

--Bean won the 400 in a photo-finish at 56.15. She and Bishop's School senior Madeline Cramer (56.21) leaned into the tape together.

-- Lauren Medley, a UC Davis-bound senior at Del Norte, placed second to McCormick in the 100m hurdles (16.33) but beat the Scripps Ranch senior in the 300m hurdles, 45.13 to 46.28.  

-- In addition to event wins by Leigh and Medley, Del Norte's girls also won the two relays -- 4x800 (Brianna Busse, Emma Hong, Hannah Riggins, Emma Sandrew) in 10:09.55, and DMR (Emily Russo, Paige Echsner, Ella Echsner, Riggins) in 12:43.27. 

--Vista's Luis Martinez posted a weight double at 52-3.50 in the shot and 130-10 in the discus.

--Helix sophomore Laraigh Allen -- pronounced La-Rye -- clocked a 12.18 in the 100 to top McCormick (12.46) as the runners pushed into a 1.9 meter per second wind. Allen also anchored the winning 4x100 relay team (49.69), beating Bean and Poway (49.98) and Daniella Smith and Patrick Henry (50.47) to the line.

--The wind got even worse for the boys where Lincoln's Jalil  Tucker won at 10.99 despite a 3.3 headwind.

--Poway's Mackenzie Rogers ran away for the win in the 3200, clocking a fine 10:42.21. She shifted into another gear with about 800m to go and left behind a strong group that included Torrey Pines' Annika Salz (11:07.46), Santa Fe Christian's Revere Schmidt (11:10.78), TP's Scarlett Taylor (11:10.88), and Point Loma's Sophie Compton (11:15.45). 

Steve Brand is a freelance writer and regular contributor to MileSplit with a focus on the San Diego Section.
Photos by Jeffrey Parenti