PREVIEW Central Coast Section Final Meet

By Gunn HS assistant coach, Jordan Cheng

After a CCS trials that saw both high heat and strong winds that resulted in phenomenal and unexpected marks from all that competed, the upcoming CCS finals this Saturday at Gilroy high school is expected to be just as eventful. Coming back from multiple years disrupted by a pandemic, the Central Coast Section has showcased a wide variety of strong performances over the course of the season, and this Saturday as storylines converge at Gilroy, multiple records could fall at the CCS Finals!


Going into CCS finals, the favorites in the 100 and 200 are clear for both boys and girls. Evan Johnson of Stevenson became the first athlete since 2001 to break 10.60 at CCS trials and would later run 21.57 for the #1 qualifying spot in both sprints. Equally impressive was Juliette Kosmont of Santa Catalina - Kosmont ran 11.91 to become the first girl in CCS since 2017 to break 12, alongside becoming the first girl in CCS since 2014 to run a wind-legal sub 12, and would run 24.67 (w+4.3) for the #1 qualifying spots in the 100 and 200. 

Additional finalists in the boys' sprints included Nyziah Hunter of Salinas, who ran 10.73 in the 100 and 21.73 in the 200 alongside stellar legs on Salinas's 4x100 and 4x400, Andrew Fu of Harker, who broke 10.8 with a massive wind-legal PR of 10.76 100 and 21.97 in the 200, sophomore Jonah Paragas of Piedmont Hills with a 10.86 that followed a 10.96 run into a -1.2 headwind at leagues, Zach Fagin of Los Altos who will play an important role in Los Altos's bid for the boys' team title with his qualification in the 100, long jump, and high jump finals, Julian Shearin-Sewell of Archbishop Mitty who broke 22 with a 21.85, and Sione Laulea of Junipero Serra, who ran 21.92 in trials alongside a 49.7 anchor leg for Serra's 4x400. Other qualifiers in the girls' sprints included Vanessa Su of Lynbrook, who showcased Lynbrook's stellar depth in the girls' sprints with her and teammate Claire Wang both going sub 12.2 with runs of 12.15 and 12.19 (w+3.5) in trials. Su would later run 24.89 (w+4.3) in the 200 for the #2 qualifying marks in both sprints. Chika Nwachukwu of Silver Creek won her heat by a sizable margin with a 12.29, and Anjali Yella of Harker put down a wind-legal 12.23 as part of her sprint triple, also entering the finals with 25.37 and 58.44 efforts in the 200 and 400. Yella, who has PR's of 12.23, 56.79, and 25.12, is favored to place well in all 3 events. As a whole, these finals are one of the deepest in CCS in some time. Every single member of the boy 200 final has already run under the 2021 winning time, and with a favorable wind, the girls 100 could see more than 1 sub 12 in the finals, something that hasn't happened since 2014! 

In the boys 400, Jeremiah Earby of Menlo-Atherton is favored to win the event. Earby, whose PR of 48.75 run at leagues puts him nearly a second ahead of any other competitor in the final, won his heat with a solid run of 50.04. Other finalists include Wil Brennan of Los Gatos who matched his PR with a 49.81 in trials, top qualifier Sam Freeman of Scotts Valley, and Caleb Womack of Santa Cruz.

In the girls 400, Hannah Rutherford of Mountain View was by far the fastest qualifier, running 56.67 to win her heat. Rutherford, who also owns the #1 400 time in CCS with a 55.88 effort run at Top 8, is favored to win the 400, and is also a heavy favorite in the 200 with her PR of 25.00. Other finalists include Anjali Yella, who will attempt a sprint triple, Lillian Kaelber of St. Francis, who has run 57.97 and is attempting a difficult and impressive 400-800 double, Cora Haggerty of Burlingame who won her heat with a 58.68, and Avery Adelman of Gunn, who is the top non-heat winning time qualifier with a 59.19. 

Pay attention to these storylines at CCS finals: 

Juliette Kosmont is already the heavy favorite in the 100. How much faster will she run? Can Evan Johnson break the CCS 100m record of 10.37 by Rubin Williams (Valley Christian '02)? 

Can Vanessa Su and Claire Wang lead their team to Lynbrook's first team title in 20 years? 

Will Anjali Yella accomplish her sprint triple? 

Julian Shearin-Sewell has come back from an ACL and meniscus tear to run 21.85. How much faster will he run in the finals? 


Heavy favorite Yutaka Roberts of El Camino, who has run 1:51.04, ran 1:56.93 to qualify for finals. Additional finalists include Furious Clay of Crystal Springs Uplands who won his heat with a 1:55.11, running wire-to-wire to win by nearly 3 seconds, Jeremy Kain of Scotts Valley, who won his heat with a 1:55.84 as part of his distance double, Carter Oates and Varun Saraf, both of Homestead, and freshman Carson Hedlund of Pioneer. Bellarmine's Ben Pinkel has the fourth-fastest time in the section in this event and will be another threat to make the state meet.

Samira Kennedy of Castilleja, who will be attempting to win both the 1600 and 800, and was the top qualifier in the 800, running 2:14.63 to win her heat. Sabrina Zanetto and Lillian Kaelber, both of St. Francis comfortably won their heats. Hinako Yamamoto, also of St. Francis, qualified for the final. Other finalists include Tatum Olsen of Menlo-Atherton, who ran 2:14.97 in her heat for the second-fastest time of the day, and Hillary Studdert of Palo Alto, who is ranked second in the section with her time of 2:10.41 run at the Stanford invitational. 

In the boys 1600, Justin Pretre of Menlo won his heat with a 4:14.33, while Jeremy Kain of Scotts Valley cruised to a 4:18.50 in his heat for the win. Kain, who has run 4:07.77 for #3 CCS all-time, is the heavy favorite for victory in the 1600, and will certainly be targeting both the meet record of 4:07.97 by Nolan Topper (Bellarmine '21), and the CCS record of 4:05.61c by Mark Stillman (Willow Glen '77). Other finalists include Harrison Dance of Saratoga, who is 3rd in the section with his mark of 4:12.12, CCS freshman 1600 record holder Carson Hedlund of Pioneer, Mateo Fesselmeier and Grant Morgenfeld of Palo Alto (scratched), both of whom will be vying for the Palo Alto school record of 4:12.45, and Tanish Chettiar of Bellarmine, who is a 2021 CCS finalist and has run 4:12.88. 

In the girls 1600, Lauren Soobrian of Los Altos won her heat by a sizable margin with a 4:51.13, placing her 2nd in CCS rankings and also breaking the Los Altos school record of 4:51.24 by Vikki Bray (Los Altos '77). She has since scratched from this event to focus on the 3200. Kylie Hoornaert of Prospect, also a finalist in the 800 and school record holder in the 1600 with a 4:57.60 at Top 8, won her heat of the 1600 with a 5:01.53. Samira Kennedy of Castillleja, who is the CCS leader with her 4:49.37, cruised to an easy 5:02.24. Kennedy of Castilleja continues to be the favorite in the 1600, with 400 best of 57.69 backing up her 1600 and 800. Other finalists include Julia Soderbery of Sacred Heart Prep, who ran the second fastest time of the day with a 5:00.50, and Ashlyn Boothby of Scotts Valley, who is 4th in CCS with her PR of 4:52.82. Qualifiers from cross-country powers Los Gatos and Los Altos include Sophie Tau and Fiona Herron of Los Gatos, and Emily Soobrian, and Riley Capuano of Los Altos. 

Grant Morgenfeld of Palo Alto and CCS freshman 3200 record holder Landon Pretre of Menlo school both won their heats. The boys 3200 is expected to be a fast race from the onset, with Morgenfeld, Landon Pretre, and other finalists Michael Julian of York, who ran 9:03.85 in a solo effort at Top 8, Emmanuel Leblond of Mountain View, Aidan Dimick of Carlmont who ran 9:02.83 at Arcadia to break a long-standing Carlmont school record, Harrison Dance of Saratoga, who ran 9:15.20 in 2021 and has run 9:18.95 to win his league meet, and Justin Pretre of Menlo School. Section leader Tanish Chettiar of Bellarmine did not make the final for the 3200, where he has run 9:01.36. The long-standing 3200 meet record, 8:58.3 by Gordon MacMitchell (Gunn '73), may go down, with multiple runners in the final having expressed the goal of a sub-9 3200. 

The 3200 at trials was impacted by the high heat of the late afternoon, but Kaiya Brooks of Crystal Springs Uplands won her heat with an 11:10.50, winning by 14 seconds. Brooks is #2 in the section with a mark of 10:32.59, and after having dropped the 1600 to focus on the 3200, she will certainly be in contention for a CCS title. Lauren Soobrian, who is CCS leader and heavy favorite in the 3200 with a 10:22.79 run wire-to-wire and won by 30 seconds at Top 8, won her heat with an 11:04.85. Other finalists include Ella Fadil and Fiona Bodkin of Los Altos, Bella Peretti of Pioneer, who is ranked #3 in the section with her PR of 10:36.27, and Isabella Riggs and Lola Herning, both freshmen from Willow Glen

Pay attention to these storylines at CCS finals: 

Can Samira Kennedy pull off the 1600/800 double?

How many points can the Los Altos girls distance team score? Will they be in contention for a team title over sprint powers Lynbrook, Silver Creek, and Valley Christian? How fast can CCS freshman distance event record holders Landon Pretre and Carson Hedlund run? Hedlund already owns the CCS freshman 1600 record, but will he break the long-standing CCS freshman 800 record of 1:54.94 by Joe Amendt (James Lick '88) in the finals? 

Will Kylie Hoornaert break the CCS freshman 1600 record of 4:55.36 by Marea Zlatunich (Aptos '18)? 

Will Jeremy Kain break the long-standing CCS 1600 record? 

Can Yutaka Roberts break the even longer-standing CCS 800 record? 


Shawn Toney of Los Altos took over the CCS lead at last week's trials, running a wind-legal 14.32 to win his heat by more than a second. Only Ben Kin Ho Tsang of Independence has gotten close, having run 14.33 alongside a 14.56 at CCS trials to win his heat. Miles Roberts of Leland, who has run 14.48 in addition to being a 6'6 high jumper, won his heat with a 14.50, and Kathir Balakrishnan of Fremont won his heat with a 14.60 to take the auto-qualifying spot to the finals. Other finalists include Daniel Chen of Gunn, who came back from a mid-season injury to run 15.07 for the fastest time qualifier in the 110, Evan Taylor of Lynbrook, James Carone of Branham, and William Rainey of Bellarmine. The finals should be a close competition from the top 4 qualifiers, with all having run close times. With only the top 3 going to the state meet and none involved having run close to the CIF at-large of 14.25, the finals are expected to be fast. 

In the 300 hurdles, heavy favorite Shawn Toney obliterated the competition, running 37.73 to win his heat by almost 3 seconds. Other finalists include Sotirios Kougiouris of Monta Vista, who PR'd by a second to win his heat with a 40.06, William Rainey of Bellarmine, and Ben Kin Ho Tsang of Independence, who is ranked 3rd in the section with his PR of 38.65, Zachary Leighton of Hillsdale, Richard Salazar of Santa Teresa, and Daniel Chen and Filippi Montes, both of Gunn. 

Chika Nwachukwu of Silver Creek remains the heavy favorite in the 100 hurdles, running 14.40 to win her heat by more than a second. Other finalists include Shayana Tomasetti, also of Silver Creek, Trisha Sharma, who is the only other person in the section to have broken 15 with her PR of 14.96 run at SCVAL ECL division trials, Alison Tjoe of Lynbrook, who will be attempting to score her team valuable points for the team title, freshman Laniah Simpson of Evergreen ValleyTaylor Witiana of Westmont, Elizabeth Churchill of Aptos, and Sharona Schwab of Gunn, both of whom tied their PR's running into a -0.3 headwind. Churchill, who is ranked 3rd in the section in the 100 hurdles, is also a finalist and section leader in the long jump and high jump.

While Chika Nwachukwu leads the competition by a significant amount in the 100 hurdles, the 300 hurdles are closer between all involved. Nwachukwu took up the longer event at the end of the season, and ran 45.15 at CCS trials for the fastest time of the day. Alison Tjoe of Lynbrook is the defending CCS champion in the 300, and has already run 44.92 at Top 8 to become the only girl this year to have broken 45 in the 300. With a team title on the line, Tjoe will need a stellar performance to score points for her team and take the win. Other finalists include Melia Middleton of Christopher, Trisha Sharma of Fremont, Jalyn Harrigan of Saratoga, Shayana Tomasetti, also of Silver Creek, freshman Angelica Chou of Menlo School, and Sharona Schwab of Gunn, who will be back for revenge after falling during the 2021 finals. Tjoe, Nwachukwu, Middleton, Sharma, and Schwab all have PR's within a second of each other, and with 3 spots to states and 5 runners in contention, who will secure their spot on Saturday? 

Pay attention to these storylines at CCS finals: 

Can Shawn Toney lead his team to their first CCS championship since 1996? 5 runners in the girls 300 with only 3 spots to states. Who will continue on to Fresno? Independence has a strong legacy of CCS hurdle titles, having won more than 10. Can Ben Kin Ho Tsang win more? 

Can Alison Tjoe lead her team to a team title? 

Kathir Balakrishnan was unfortunately DQ'd in the 300 at leagues. Can he make states in the 110 instead? 


While Los Altos ran the fastest qualifying spot of the day in the 4x100 with a 42.45, the question of who goes to states remains wide open, with every team in the finals having run within half a second of each other. 

In the 4x400, Los Altos also ran the fastest qualifying time of the day with a 3:25.89, thanks to a 49-second leg by hurdler Shawn Toney, but with multiple other teams having run similar times this season, the 4x400 should remain close. Fremont qualified with a 49.9 leg by hurdler Kathir Balakrishnan, and Evergreen Valley took the final time qualifying spot after a close heat against Junipero Serra, who also qualified with their heat win. 

In the girls 4x100, Lynbrook is the heavy favorite, having run 47.82 at the Stanford invitational to break a 44-year old school record, and 47.81 at Arcadia. Silver Creek has the 2nd fastest time in the section with a 48.58, and with Silver Creek being in contention for a team title, the competition between the 2 will be fierce. Valley Christian, who was ranked #3 in the section, did not run at trials. Other finalists include St. Ignatius and Archbishop Mitty, who are the only other teams in the section to have broken 50.

In the 4x400, San Benito Hollister ran the top qualifying time at trials with a 4:08.78. St. Francis, who is the CCS leader with a time of 4:03.97, won their heat comfortably by 6 seconds, and Los Altos took first in their heat against a Mountain View team anchored by CCS 400 leader Hannah Rutherford, who nearly made up a 40-meter deficit with a 56-second leg. Castilleja, who has run  4:07.04 and Lynbrook, who was the CCS leader for the majority of the season with a 4:05.24 at the Stanford invitational, did not make finals. 

Pay attention to these storylines at CCS finals: 

Can Los Altos score valuable points in the boys 4x100 and 4x400 to bring home a team title? 

Lynbrook and Silver Creek's 4x100 relay PR's aren't very close, being separated by a second, but the competition between the two schools for the team title will be. Expect a fast race between the two. 

No boys 4x100 team this season has broken 42. Will it happen in the finals? San Benito Hollister has rapidly emerged with a fast girls 4x400 at the end of the season, and after having taken first on a hot day that affected times for all teams involved, how will they run at finals next week? 

Junipero Serra has won 6 of the past 7 CCS boys 4x400 titles. With a close race in the final guaranteed, can they bring home another? 


Jacob Kiesman of Valley Christian was the only boys' shot-put contestant to break 50 feet in trials, and remains section leader with a throw of 57'5, but Joseph Harbert of Archbishop Riordan, who has thrown 54'6.5, could threaten Kiesman for the CCS title. Other finalists include Ty Jeter of Wilcox, who threw 47'3 for the 3rd qualifying spot, Christian Farias of Oak Grove, who threw 47'1.5 in trials for a 3-foot PR, Matthew Tan of Mills, who threw 44'02 for a 4-foot PR, and Mateo Garcia of Santa Clara, who is ranked 3rd in the section with his throw of 48'4.5. 

In the discus, CCS leader Liam Brennan took the first qualifying spot with a 154'1 PR. Tobey Lau of Palo Alto took 2nd with a 151'5, toss, and Clayton King of Monte Vista Christian, who is ranked 4th in CCS in shot-put but missed the finals, took the 3rd qualifying spot in discus with a throw of 151'1. Other finalists include Jacob Kiesman of Valley Christian, Ty Jeter of Wilcox, and Alexander Sit of Piedmont Hills, all of whom also made the shot-put final. The top 3 discus throws in CCS of 154'1, 151'5, and 151'1 were all made at CCS trials, but Silver Creek sophomore Kyler Headly, who has thrown 150'0, could toss his way into the top 3 to secure his spot to states.

Los Gatos freshman Nicole Steiner was the top qualifier in the underclassmen dominated girls shot-put with a toss of 39'5 to put her a foot above competition. Other finalists include Golda Demby of Del Mar and Maya Ifo desai of Archbishop Mitty, both of whom are also freshmen, Jocelyn Alexander of San Benito Hollister who is ranked 2nd in the section with her PR of 38'6, and section discus leader Ningning O'Brien of Homestead. 

In addition to making the finals for shot-put, O'Brien's PR of 136'10 puts her more than 10 feet ahead of the nearest competition. O'Brien, who won her league meet by 31 feet, is the heavy favorite for the CCS discus title, and is ranked 6th in the state. Other finalists include Carolyn Li of Lynbrook, who could score her team points for the team title, Peri Durbin of Notre Dame, Jocelyn Alexander of San Benito Hollister, and Golda Demby of Del Mar, all of whom are also shot-put finalists. 

Pay attention to these storylines at CCS finals: 

No girl has thrown 40 feet in the shot-put this season. Will that change at finals? The 3 spots for states in the boys discus will be heavily contested, with all 4 candidates PR's being relatively close. Who will make it? 


Section leader Miles Roberts of Leland is heavily favored to win the high jump title, having jumped 6'6 this season, in addition to being a finalist in the 110 hurdles. Other finalists include Luke Buddie of Woodside, who has jumped 6'5, Adrian DiLena of St Ignatius, who has jumped 6'4, and Adam Berg of Willow Glen who has jumped 6'3. 7 other athletes have jumped 6'2 to qualify, like Zach Fagin of Los Altos, who will offer Los Altos valuable points in the high jump, long jump and the 100, where he is a finalist. 

In the girls' high jump, section leaders Hannah Slover of Los Gatos and Elizabeth Churchill of Aptos will compete for the section title. Their PR of 5'8 puts them far above the competition and ties them for 3rd in the state, with other finalists including Melanie Castelli of Notre Dame, who has jumped 5'5.25, Lillian Thrasher of San Benito and Clara Fan of Monta Vista, both of whom have jumped 5'4, and Haley Johnson of Fremont, Taylor Oden of Archbishop Mitty, and Gabriella Baxter of Christopher, all three of whom have jumped 5'2. 

At the Top 8 invitational this year, Jurrion Dickey of Valley Christian jumped 23'09.25 to PR by an extraordinary 2 feet. With his jump being ranked 1st in the section by 9 inches, Dickey is the heavy favorite to win the section title. Paul Rivera of Palma and Andrew Fu of Harker have both jumped 23'05, with Fu having remained consistent over the course of the season, jumping 22 feet when it has counted. Joshua Kung and Zach Fagin of Los Altos will offer their team important points for the team title, and with their rankings of 4th and 8th in the section, they will certainly score points, if not secure a spot to the state meet. Other finalists include Rishi Tella of Palo Alto and Logan Saldate of Palma, both 100m finalists. 

Jessi Barry of Valley Christian took 2nd in the long jump at CCS finals in 2021, but is back this year to take first, although that could be difficult, with Elizabeth Churchill of Aptos having already jumped 9 inches further than any other girl in the section with her PR of 18'10.75 set at Top 8. Other finalists include freshman Sophie Schwartz of Westmont and Ashna Krishnamurthy of Saratoga, who are the only other two girls in the section to jump 18 feet, Katie Tong and Kate Walsh of St. Ignatius, Vanessa Su and Claire Wang, who will offer Lynbrook valuable points for the team battle, Anjali Yella of Harker, who will seek to cap off her sprint triple with a placing in the long jump, and Ava Churchill of Aptos. 

Kingsley Okoronkwo of Christopher was the #1 qualifier in the triple jump at trials, jumping 44'4.5 to land a little less than 2 feet ahead of the nearest qualifier, but CCS leader Ethan Lavina of Salinas has jumped 45'5, and long jump finalists Monroe Barnum of St. Ignatius, Zach Fagin, and Rishi Tella all make their appearances in the final for the triple. 

Defending CCS champion Jessi Barry is favored to defend her title, with her jump of 37'6 into a -0.2 headwind at WCAL league finals ranking her more than a foot ahead of the nearest competitor. Megan Mackenzie of Los Altos, who has a lifetime best of 38'0, was the second qualifier at trials with a jump of 35'10.5, and 2021 3rd-place finisher Jackie Acosta of St. Ignatius qualified for the finals. Elizabeth Churchill of Aptos, who is ranked 4th in the section did not make the triple jump finals, but Kate De Los Santos of Monterey PR'd by more than a foot to snag one of the final qualifying spots. 

In the pole vault, Logan Lehnert of jumps power St Ignatius leads the crowd with his mark of 14'6. Lehnert, who has jumped his best mark on 4 different occasions this season, remains consistent and is favored to take the section title. The battle of who goes to states could be a close one, with William Floyd of Menlo, Erik Dodge of Aragon, and Ryan Sampson of Aptos all having jumped 14'3, 14'2.5, and 14'0, respectively. 

CCS leader Jonelle Scott of Soquel remains the favorite, with her leap of 11'6 placing her high above the crowd. 2021 4th-place finisher Abigail Goetz of Sequoia is ranked 2nd in the section with an 11'1, and Emily Zamora of Willow Glen rounds out the top 3 with a 10'6. Other finalists include Kathrina Guth of Pacific Collegiate, Jordan Reicher and Katherine Floering, both of St. Francis, all of whom have jumped 10'0. 

Pay attention to these storylines at CCS finals:

Points scored in the jumps could have an adverse effect on the team battle, with jumpers like Jurrion Dickey, Vanessa Su, Zach Fagin, Claire Wang, and Joshua Kung competing not only for an individual title, but also a team title. 

Can Anjali Yella of Harker get on the podium in 4 different events? 

Who will win the jump-off between Hannah Slover and Elizabeth Churchill, both of whom have jumped 5'8 this season? 

Team Title: 

Winning a CCS team title is both incredibly difficult, and an immense achievement. 2021 runner-ups Los Altos are heavily favored for the boys team title, but Valley Christian has a number of strong competitors, and shouldn't be counted out. 

The Lynbrook girls are favored in the race for the team title, but Silver Creek, led by Chika Nwachukwu in the 4x100, 100 hurdles, 100, and 300 hurdles, will keep it close. Also in contention could be Los Altos, who have a number of girls who qualified in distance events alongside a 4x400. 

Pay attention to these storylines at CCS finals: 

Los Altos and Lynbrook are both favored for the team title, but could they be upset?

Jordan Cheng is an assistant coach for Gunn HS.

Photos by Malcolm Slaney from the CCS Semifinals last Saturday.