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Two years ago in a COVID-delayed Track and Field season, the Central Coast Section held its championship meet in late June to give many athletes the experience of a section final. Fast forward two years later and many of those young athletes are now juniors and seniors which will have a huge impact on this year's section final and potentially at the state level. Only three boys in four events return as CCS champions from a senior-heavy 2022 season.
Below is a look at nine top returning boys to watch during the 2023 outdoor season.
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Central Coast Section Track and Field Boys to Watch
(In alphabetical order)
Los Gatos, Sr.
Last season, Los Gatos junior Wil Brennan hovered around the 50-second mark throughout the season until he dipped under the time on his home track at the CCS Top 8 meet with a time of 49.51. At the CCS final, Brennan lowered his personal best to 49.48 to finish in 2nd place behind section champion Jeremiah Earby of Menlo Atherton. Later in the meet, Brennan anchored the winning 1600 relay team as they ran a season-best of 3:20.74. It was a significant win for Los Gatos, which won its second CCS title in the last decade to go along with the Cats' 2019 win. All the other CCS titles in the 1600 relay since 2014 have been won by Serra.
Crystal Springs Uplands School, Sr.
One of the athletes that really benefitted from the 2021 CCS meet was Crystal Springs' Furious Clay. As a sophomore, he was able to qualify for the CCS Finals in the 800 and finished in 5th place with a new personal record of 1:56.13. That performance springboarded him to his junior season where he continued to lower his time in his specialty, the 800. As a junior, Clay finished in 3rd place at the CCS Finals with a new best of 1:52.69 and advanced to the CIF-State final. This past fall, Clay helped lead the Gryphons to their first CIF-State title in cross country as they claimed the top spot in Division V.
Menlo School, Sr.
Menlo junior William Floyd had the second highest mark in the pole vault last season at 14-3. He finished in 6th place at the CCS Finals and just missed making the State Meet. Floyd also ran the 400 for his team with a best of 52.38 although his main contribution in that event was his relay legs on the 1600 relay and distance medley relay. Menlo won both the St. Francis and Stanford Invitationals in the DMR and finished in 3rd place at Arcadia and the Penn Relays. Floyd also dabbled in the 300 hurdles finishing in 3rd place at the WBAL final to help Menlo claim the team title. This spring, Floyd will be one of the favorites to win the section title in the pole vault after clearing 14-7.5 this past December.
At the 2022 CCS Championship meet, Harker School finished in 3rd place as a team behind champion Los Altos and runner-up Bellarmine. They were led by junior Andrew Fu who finished in 3rd place in the 100 meters (10.82), 6th in the 200 meters (22.10), and repeated as section champion in the long jump (23-2.5). He also ran the second leg on the winning 400 relay team. Fu will be back this season along with the entire relay team looking to lead the Eagles to an even better finish at the section final.
Silver Creek, Jr.
Silver Creek has been one of the stronger track and field programs in the section that has included three team championships (1972, 1977, and 1998), an all-time spring great (Millard Hampton), and an Olympic gold medalist (Andre Phillips). They have also had multiple-time section champions including Charlie Dang in the discus who won his specialty in 2019 and 2021. The section championship was not held in 2020. Last year, the latest Silver Creek section champion was sophomore Kyler Headley. His win in the discus made it three in a row for Silver Creek in the event as he will return to repeat in his specialty. He recorded a personal best of 154-7 at the CCS Finals and an even more impressive 163-7 at the State Prelims.
Palo Alto, Jr.
Morgenfeld has been one of the top distance runners in the section since his freshman year. As a 10th grader last spring, Morgenfeld lowered his personal bests in all distance events with 1:58.88, 4:14.91 and 9:08.39. He also finished in 3rd place at the CCS Finals to qualify for the State Meet. This past fall, Morgenfeld was named the section's best runner over a super-talented group of young runners. Morgenfeld also had the fastest time at the section meet with a time of 14:54.1 on the rugged Crystal Springs course. A few weeks later, Morganfeld qualified for the Champs Sports Nationals where he finished in 18th place. This past weekend, Morgenfeld finished in 2nd place in the 1500 with a new best of 3:55.56 and won the 3000 in 8:32.30, a meet record.
Menlo School, Sr.
During the fall cross country season, Justin Pretre led the Menlo boys team to a 2nd place finish at the California State Championship Division V race with a 2nd place individual finish. He was also one of five runners to break 15 minutes on the Crystal Springs course. This past weekend, Pretre defended his title in the 1500 meters at the Winter Championship meet at Arcadia HS with a meet record and new CCS record time of 3:54.37. That time surpassed the 1996 time of Leland's Daniel Sikiric (3:54.78) who also attended Cal Berkeley, Pretre's college in the fall. Justin also anchored the winning 4 x 800 team that ran 7:56.14, also a meet record. On that team was also his talented younger brother Landon who finished in 2nd place last year in the 3200 at CCS outdoors to qualify for the CIF-State Meet. Last season, Justin Pretre set personal bests of 1:54.26, 4:12.75, and 9:08.38 and led the Knights to the WBAL team championship. The times for the 1600 and 3200 are the fastest returning times in the section.
The Central Coast Section will have a strong returning group of high hurdlers. The defending champion Ben Kin Ho of Independence will be definitely one to watch (see below) but don't overlook the 2nd place finisher Miles Roberts of Leland. Roberts was a very close 2nd (14.17 to 14.19) at the CCS Finals but also qualified for the State Final and finished in 4th place with a new best of 14.17 (wind-aided), two places ahead of Tsang. Roberts also competed in the high jump and had the best jump in the section with his 6-6 jump at the K-Bell Classic. He will definitely be a contender in both events.
110 Hurdles/300 Hurdles
The dominant boys track and field team in CCS in the 1980s was Independence HS. During that decade, the team won seven section titles in 1981-1986 and 1988. They were especially impressive in the hurdles as three different hurdlers swept the events during their respective seasons. Erick Montgomery swept the hurdles in 1982 and 1983, Cary Nobles did his part in 1984 and John Montgomery swept the hurdles in 1987 as a junior. It should be noted that Montgomery had the opportunity to repeat as section champion in both hurdles in 1988 but false started in the high hurdles. Last year, another Independence hurdler, Ben Kin Ho Tsang, swept the hurdles as he raced to 14.17 win in the 110 hurdles and 37.32 time in the 300 hurdles. He will have plenty of competition in the high hurdles as both the runner-up (Miles Roberts of Leland) and 3rd place finisher (Kathir Balakrishnan of Fremont) both return.
Albert Caruana is the coach at Crystal Springs Uplands School and a regular contributor to MileSplit
Photos by Raul Ebio, Dan McSweeney, and Pat Rhames