PREVIEW San Diego Section - Girls TF Athletes To Watch

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Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman was the best in California a year ago, winning the 300-meter hurdles in 42.23 and placing third in the 100 hurdles at 14.14. Headed to the University of Washington for college in the fall, Coleman has even bigger goals this time around.

Her 300-meter hurdle best time of 42.19 is within range of the San Diego Section best of 41.30 set by a former Cathedral Catholic Don, Dani Johnson, in 2015. Tall, thin and powerful, Coleman can't help but remind spectators of Sydney McLaughlin.

Then there's the 100-meter hurdles. A year ago, she ran 14.05 but found herself battling Scripps Ranch's Aaliyah McCormick (a SDS record 13.61) and San Diego High state champion Charlize James (13.67 pr). Both are in college now, so Coleman is the fastest section returnee in both events.

Athletic? She was a member of the unbeaten Cathedral Catholic state champion and national No. 1 volleyball team.

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San Diego Section Track and Field Girls to Watch

 (In alphabetical order)



Helix, Jr.


The injury bug struck a lot of area sprinters. At least Madison's Amirah Shaheed got to the section championships, unlike Allen who was an early-season sensation, clocking times of 12.02 and 24.73. About the time everyone was aware of how fast she was, she too was sidelined before she had a chance to show herself against the best. Tall and thin, Allen has great closing speed and, hopefully, with a full year to show it, should push to be among the best.



Poway, Jr.


 Anyone who was at the state cross country championships got to see Buswell display her 2:09.54 half-mile speed when she rallied to capture the Division 1 championship at a distance that really isn't her forte. In the 800, Buswell won the section championship at 2:11.09 after clocking her PR at Arcadia.  In the state meet, she placed eighth overall in 2:12.59. She might decide to run the 1600 where she clocked a 4:55.52 at Escondido. Tremendous range, she could even step up to the 3200 where she'd improve on her PR 11:20.10 quickly.



Cathedral Catholic, Sr.


Coleman figures to be the favorite in the 300 hurdles based on her championship run a year ago and certainly one of the ones to watch in the 100-meter event as well. A big meet competitor, Coleman just glides over the hurdles. She would like nothing better than to set the San Diego Section in both events with gold medals at state before heading off to the University of Washington.



La Jolla, Fr.


What good would a list be without a little mystery? Dailey is coming off a ridiculously good freshman cross country season, especially for someone who never ran cross country before. Since she has never run track before, either, no one has any idea what her best event might be. Finishing 14th in the CHAMPS National Championships would seem to indicate the farther she goes, the better, but her finishing speed could make her an ideal 1600-meter runner or even produce some scary-fast 800s. The fun part: Wait and see.



La Costa Canyon, Jr.

Pole Vault

One of eight returning girls in CA with clearances of 13 feet or higher. She did it again this winter, equalling her PR of 13-0 at the Great Oak Winter Qualifier. She followed that with a victory at the CA Winter Championships at 12-4. As a sophomore last spring, Downing won seven meets, placed second at the SDS Championships (12-9), cleared 12-7 at State Prelims and placed eighth in the State Finals at 12-5. In the Class of 2024, Downing ranks No. 3 in CA and tied for No. 9 in the U.S. 


Torrey Pines, Sr.


 While everyone was watching Coleman up front, the Falcons runner was right behind at the state meet as she finished third overall in 42.67 seconds, just off the 42.38 she ran while finishing first in the section championships. Janik has no trouble finding a workout partner as her twin sister, Dominika, finished seventh in state at 43.70 after a PR of 43.38 in the section championships. Both of them figure to be the ones pushing Coleman all season.



La Costa Canyon, Jr.


The Mavericks standout figures to improve based on a quality cross country season that saw her finish second in Division 3 only to two-time champ Hanne Thomsen of Santa Rosa Montgomery. She then gained valuable experience qualifying for the national championships. On the track her best event last season was the 1600 where at the North County Coastal finals she ripped off a 4:57.90. The 1600 is one of the tougher events in the section but look for her to be a contender.



Del Norte, Sr.


 Fifth in the state 1600 last year at 4:46.97, Riggins had a bit of a spotty cross country season. But no one questions her ability and especially her speed as a 2:11.60 metric half-miler or a 10:53.18 3200-meter runner. Riggins has great range and seems to be able to save her best for the end of the season when it counts most. Princeton is certainly getting a good one.



Madison, Jr.


 The fastest returning sprinter in the section with bests of 11.66 in the CIFSDS 100-meter dash finals and 24.45 in the 200 at Mt. SAC, Shaheed may very well have challenged for the state championship but in the section 200, she pulled up with a hamstring injury and her season was over. That 11.66 finished No. 4 in the state and the 24.45 No. 15. She is the sister of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed and former section champ Aysha Shaheed (11.61 and 24.07 in 2021).  Super-fast out of the blocks, look for Shaheed to make up for lost time this season.



La Jolla, Jr.


The Most Versatile Award would go to the Vikings' Smith who was among the section best in the 100 (12.06 at the Sundevil Invitational), 200 (24.84 at the Jaguar Invitational) and the 400 (56.33 to win the section championship) before gaining valuable experience at the state meet. She then competed in the National Junior Olympics where she clocked a lifetime best of 55.78 in the 400.  She's the No. 6 returnee in the state in the quarter.



Scripps Ranch, Sr.

High Jump

Tarczy got better and better after opening the season at 5-4 in the Mt. Carmel Field-Distance meet, then improved four more times leading up to her PR 5-7 at the San Diego Section Division 2 prelims. Qualifying for state by winning Division 2, matching her personal record of 5-7, Tarczy cleared 5-4 in Clovis to make the victory stand as the fourth place finisher.  She'll need to be at her best as the section also returns 5-5 jumper Kelly De Jong of Maranatha Christian.



Poway, Sr.

Pole Vault

 The San Diego Section continues to produce some of the state's best vaulters and Thomson appears ready to assume the role of favorite after clearing a best of 13-3 at the Triton Invitational before soaring over 12-9 at the state meet, earning a spot on the victory stand for her fifth place finish. The Titan vaulter will need to be at her best as La Costa Canyon junior Iliana Downing, who was eighth at state at 12-5 and has cleared 12-9, is also returning.



Who Is the Top Girls Track Athlete in San Diego?

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Steve Brand is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by DeAnna Turner, Daniel Hernandez, James Huenink, Jeffrey Parenti, Raymond Tran and Dan Tyree