RECAP NV's Ortega-Gammil, CA's Marshall Among Stanford Stars

Reno (NV) HS senior Kyle Ortega-Gammil ran a PR and meet record in winning the 1600-meter race at the Stanford Invitational on Saturday. (Dan McSweeney photo)

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PALO ALTO -- Reno High School's Kyle Ortega-Gammil started running when he was eight years old.

"I was pretty competitive out on the elementary school playground," he said. "I was running around on our concrete mini-track. I wasn't that coordinated at soccer, so I ran."

He joined the Silver State Striders. Ortega-Gammil said he was decent at the start, hit a lull, but then as COVID-19 hit, he dedicated himself to running.

Now, as a senior, he's starting to put up very big numbers. On April 2, Ortega-Gammil won the boys 1600 meters at the Stanford Invitational in four minutes, 8.67 seconds, a huge personal best as well as a meet record. That came on top of a 10-second PR of 4:15.16 at the Dublin Distance Fiesta two weeks prior. At Dublin, he also ran a lifetime best 1:55.87 in the 800.

Ortega-Gammil said his start with the Silver State Striders, coached by JoAnne Banducci, led to all the success he is enjoying.

"She deserves all the credit in the world," Ortega-Gammil said. "She takes kids and gives them free running practice. We've had some crazy good runners come out and run some crazy fast times. And that's what happened to me."

Ortega-Gammil will be at the Arcadia Invitational on April 8-9. Time submissions ended March 27 but a 4:08 certainly deserves to be in the "big boy" race there, along with the opportunity to drop that time even more.

"It kind of depends where I get seeded," he said. "If I could get into the big boy race at Arcadia, that would be a dream come true to be able to race against those Southern California guys like Newbury Park. That is a big deal for me."

Ortega-Gammil felt strong at Stanford. He did not come in with a time goal.

"I knew I was going to try to win," he said. "I was just going to try to wait and see what I had. I know I have a kick, I know I have 800 speed. I did not think I was going to run 4:08, but I'm very glad I did."

He won handily, with Stockton St. Mary's (SJ) senior Daniel Winter next in 4:11.06.

So, is it true that training at elevation helps you compete?

"I ran a league meet in Douglas (NV), which is 4,700 feet, and when you get to that last lap, you have no kick," Ortega-Gammil said. "Down here, you get to that last lap and you have something. I don't know how to explain it. It could be the adrenaline, it could be having great fields, it could be sea level. Something's different down here for sure!"

It was a warm, but not hot day at Stanford. The meet hosts high school and college competition. There were several outstanding marks on the weekend. High school competitors mostly came from Northern California, but there were top athletes from out of state as well.

One of those was Ella Borsheim from Tacoma (WA) Bellarmine Preparatory School. She won the girls 1600 in 4:54.58, then came back and took 10th in the 800 (2:16.89). In the 1,600, she went to the lead early, was briefly threatened, then outran Los Altos (CC) junior Lauren Soobrian to the finish line. Soobrian ran a 4:55.19.

"It's a great atmosphere out here," Borsheim said. "I knew there was going to be some good competition so I was excited going into the race.

"I fell off the pace in the middle which I think allowed that girl to get back into it so that's something that I want to do better. I'm happy with how I competed."

JSerra (SS) junior Anastasia Snodgrass was third in 4:57.78 with Montgomery (NC) frosh Hanne Thomsen fourth in 4:58.51. 

St. Mary's (SJ) senior standout Jadyn Marshall (pictured) won the 110 hurdles into a 1.2 meters-per-second wind. His time was 13.97. Marshall came in as the all-conditions national leader from his performances at last week's Texas Relays where he went 13.35 (2.2) in the final and 13.49 (0.9) in the prelims.

During Friday's first day at Stanford, Marshall won the 400 hurdles in 54.12 (U.S. No. 3), edging Los Altos senior Shawn Toney (54.14).

"My main goal is to stay in the 13s, just stay consistent, so when I get to these big races my time going into a 13.3, 13.4 won't be unusual for me," said Marshall, headed to UCLA for football and track. "It's just running fast and being consistent."

The meet was unusual in that it not only ran on time, but ahead of schedule. This led to a few athletes having to rush from the warmup area to the track at Cobb Track and Angell Field. One group of those was the boys 400 relay team for McClymonds (OK), who hurried over and then beat a tough Acalanes (NC) team (41.60-41.66).

"We ran all the way here from the football stadium," Roland Hammork said. "We were stretching each other out and we didn't know."

Said Michael Dansby, "It was a little bit close."

When asked if it's easier to warm up when you have to run to the track, Javian Thomas said, "It's the fastest time we ever ran!"

Jay'Vion Cole completed the foursome.

Another one who wasn't fazed was El Camino (CC) senior Yutaka Roberts, who won the boys 800 in 1:52.51.

"I didn't get much time to warm up, so that kind of threw me off," said Roberts, who ranks fifth in the state in the two-lap race from his 1:52.34 from Dublin.

Roberts said he'd like to break 1:50 by the end of the season.

JSerra (SS) senior Ashlee Gallegos held off Palo Alto (CC) junior Hillary Studdert to win the girls 800 in 2:10.18 to Studdert's 2:10.41. That is a PR for both ladies, who now rank CA Nos. 5 and 6. 

Two other JSerra gils placed among the top six. Sophomore Georgia Jeanneret was third in 2:12.66, and junior Sydney Paulson was sixth in 2:16.39.

Monte Vista (NC) junior Cate Peters (pictured) looked outstanding in winning the girls 400 in huge PR of 54.74 a couple of weeks after her impressive 800m victory at Dublin. Her one-lap time ranks CA No. 4. 

During Friday's session, Del Oro (SJ) senior Riley Chamberlain won the 3200m in 10:14.56 to beat Montgomery (NC) freshman Hanne Thomsen (10:16.76). Two weeks ago at Dublin, it was Thomsen who won the eight-lapper, with Chamberlain third. 

Chico (NS) senior Mario Giannini won the boys 3200m in 9:07.96 with Mountain View (CC) senior Emmanuel Leblond second in 9:08.73. 

Clovis East (CS) senior Feyi Olukanni took over the state lead in the shot put with a meet-best 43-10.50. She's also the state leader in the discus throw with a best of 153-7 from Gateway To Track and Field on March 18, and won that event here with a winning throw of 146-7.

Stockton Lincoln (SJ) junior Y'Vette Harris won the 400m hurdles in 1:01.73 with Central (CS) junior Riley Costales second in 1:03.756 and Lynbrook (CC) senior Alison Tjoe third in 1:04.04. Costales then competed Saturday at the West Coast Relays. 

Pleasanton Foothill (NC) senior Torre Anderson won the long jump (18-0.25/1.8) with Santa Rosa (NC) junior Cocome McKamey second (17-9.75/1.1). 

The boys long jump competition was fierce with Tennyson (NC) junior Taeshaun Lyons winning with a best of 22-22.25 (1.3) to beat three others who jumped 22-9: Salesian (NC) senior Elias Ajamu Reed (22-9.25/0.3), Acalanes (NC) sophomore Trevor Rogers (22-9.25/1.5) and Harker (CC) junior Andrew Fu (22-9/0.5). 

The Menlo School (CC) won the boys distance medley relay in 10:18.83 to beat Bellarmine College Prep (CC) by less than a second, with Palo Alto (CC) third 10 seconds back and Crystal Springs Uplands (CC) another 0.54 back. 

Damin Esper is a Bay Area-based freelance writer and regular contributor to MileSplit.

Photos by Dan McSweeney

MileSplitCA editor Jeffrey Parenti contributed to this recap.