PREVIEW North Coast Section - Girls TF Athletes To Watch

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Five girls who won six North Coast Section individual track and field titles last May are scheduled to return, including Montgomery sophomore Hanne Thomsen (pictured), who won both the NCS and the State titles in the 3200 meter run. Campolindo senior Mari Testa is the section's returning champion in both the 100-meter dash and the 100m hurdles.

NCS and CIF-State Meet pole vault champion Jathiyah Muhammad, a junior at Dublin, is not expected to compete for the high school this spring, according to her father, Gary Muhammad, following an issue regarding pole use. She will instead compete in open meets for the San Jose Track Club, he said. Dublin HS head coach Chris Williams confirmed that Jathiyah and her younger brother Khaliq have not come out for the team.

Jathiyah, who cleared 14-0 feet at the NCS Meet of Champions last May and won the State title with a 13-9 clearance, is among only six returning girls nationally with 14-0 or higher clearances. That mark is tied for No. 5 all-time in California. Her brother is the top pole vaulter in the U.S. in the class of 2025.

Additionally, Cocome McKamey from Santa Rosa, who would have been among the elite returning hurdlers/jumpers in the NCS, graduated in December and is expected to compete collegiately this spring at Cal Poly Humboldt. 

- Jeffrey Parenti

Below are bios spotlighting some of the top returning girls in the NCS, listed by position groups.

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Campolindo, Sr.

Events: 100m, 100m Hurdles, 300m Hurdles, 4x100m relay

Testa qualified for State in all three of her events last year. She won both the NCS Meet of Champions 100m and 100m hurdles titles, while also running a leg on Campolindo's winning 4x100m relay team. Testa also finished third in the 300m hurdles at MOC. Prior to her appearance at MOC, she won the Diablo Athletic Valley League championship in both the 100m and 100m hurdles and was the NCS Tri-Valley regional champion in the 100m hurdles. While Testa dropped the 300m hurdles for State to focus on the shorter distances, she ran a personal record in the 100m hurdle prelims in a 14.50 before finishing eighth (14.82) at the State Final. Testa's already posted some fast times at the California Winter Championships early this month so she'll be one to watch early on.


Clayton Valley, Jr.

Events: 200m, 400m, 4x100m relay

Zoe is the defending NCS MOC champion for 400m. Lahanas won the Diablo Athletic League 400m title in a PR of 57.09 as well as the NCS Tri-Valley Championship 400m title on her way to MOC last year, following an earlier season 400m title win in the Northern California Frosh/Soph Championships. While Lahanas didn't make it out of the prelims at State, she'll be firmly in the mix on the sprints side in the North Coast Section. 


Dublin, Sr.

Events: 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay

While Champion didn't bring home any league or NCS titles last year, she was the top NCS sprint contender at State, finishing 12th in the 100m and 15th in the 200m prelim at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis. Her time of 12.04 at State for the 100m was just shy of her season PR of 12.01 which she achieved at the Arcadia Invitational, and her 200m PR of 24.74 garnered her a runner-up title at the NCS Tri-Valley Championships. 


Dougherty Valley, Jr.

Events: 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay

Harris won the NCS Tri-Valley Championship 100m title in a personal record of 12.20 and became runner up at Meet of Champions to qualify for her first State Championships. She matched her PR in the prelims at State and will look to improve on her times this spring.


Monte Vista, Sr.

Events: 200m, 400m, 800m

One of the top middle-distance sprinters in CA, Peters suffered a foot injury that kept her out of CIF post-season competition last year. Prior to her injury, she ran a blockbuster 2:06.89 to win the 800m at the Mt. SAC Relays and a 54.72 to win the 400m at the Sacramento Meet of Champions. She bounced back post-CIF to run a 2:10.19 at Nike Outdoors, catching the attention of Stanford University where she is now committed. Her fourth place finish in the 300m at the California Winter Championships earlier this month shows she's ready to make up for lost time.

Others to watch: Victoria Chatter (MIramonte), Nairobi Smith (International FAIS), Taryn Fettig (St. Mary's College)



Montgomery, So.

Events: 1600m, 3200m

Thomsen will return to the Meet of Champions with three CIF-State titles under her belt before the end of her sophomore year, winning her first State title in track in the 3200m and she now has back-to-back Division III CIF-State titles in cross country. Along her way to State last year, she won league titles in both her events and anchored her 4x400m team, as well as picking up the NCS Redwood Empire titles in both her events before dropping the 1600m to dial in on the 3200m at Meet of Champions. The distance specialist looks to improve on her impressive times from her debut track season, and eyes an elusive battle with Southern Section distance star and fellow state cross country champion Sadie Engelhardt (Ventura HS) as the two sophomores take turns splashing California headlines. Thomsen will open her season with her first East Coast appearance at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in Boston in March and is set up well for a smooth return to Clovis to defend her 3200m title.


Branson, Sr.

Events: 800m, 1600m

Johnson won the MCAL Championship, NCS Class A and NCS MOC title in the 800m last year, and earned a personal record at the State Championships in a time of 2:14.95. She also earned a podium spot at the CIF State XC Championships in November, taking third in Division V at Woodward Park. She'll become a Golden Bear in the fall running for UC Berkeley.


Tamalpais, So.

Events: 800m, 1600m

Gardner snagged her first State qualifying spot in the 800m in an impressive performance as a freshman last year. She achieved a personal record of 2:16.23 and a runner-up title at the NCS Redwood Area Championship, but had won no 800m titles all season before qualifying in Dublin. Gardner also qualified as an individual for the state XC championships in Division III this past November as a sophomore, which was her second appearance after qualifying with her team as a freshman.

Other distance girls to watch: Athena Ryan (Sonoma Academy), Seelah Kittelstrom (Montgomery), Ellie Buckley (Campolindo), Shea Volkmer (Campolindo), Olivia Williams (Acalanes).



Acalenes, Sr.

Events: High Jump, Long Jump

Young Harriman is the top returner for NCS this year in high jump, having hit a personal record at NCS MOC of 5-3 for a second place podium finish. Young Harriman matched that performance at the State Championships.


Maria Carrillo, Sr.

Pole Vault

Lily cleared 13-2.50 last spring at the NCS Redwood Empire regional meet. That is the No. 5 returning height in CA. Mulligan had previously gone 13-1. She cleared 12-11 at the NCS Meet of Champions to earn a trip to the State Meet. She is one of only seven girls in CA who will be competing this spring with clearances of 13 feet or higher.  


Castro Valley, Sr.

Events: Long Jump, 100m

Sims won the WACC League Championships and the NCS Bayshore Area Championships before jumping a nearly six-inch personal record at Dublin last May in 18-10.25.

Others to watch: Haley Chelemedos (Acalanes), Millie Weitz (Marin Catholic), Kennedy Brown (American Canyon), Elise Doyle (San Ramon Valley), Alexa Chan (Moreau Catholic).



Heritage (Brentwood), Sr.

Events: Shot Put

McLemore won the NCS Tri-Valley Championship title in a personal record of 38-1 last year and took third at the Meet of Champions to qualify for State. She finished fourth at the Stanford Invitational last April and won the BVAL Championship title before advancing. While she did not make it out of the prelims at the State Meet last year, she looks to be a top contender for the NCS MOC shot put title this year.


Benicia, Sr.

Events: Discus, Shot Put

Ikenaga will be a favorite for the NCS MOC discus title this year after finishing fourth and just missing a State bid last season. She achieved a personal record of 114-5 at her league championships, and got third at the Sacramento Meet of Champions earlier in the season. All three discus throwers who qualified for State last year graduated, leaving spots open for Ikanaga and others to pursue their Clovis hopes.

Others to watch: Kalyssa Claros (McKinleyville), Erin Brown (Amador Valley), Anna Stubbington (Campolindo) Lauren Lemire (Pittsburgh).


4x100m relay

Campolindo's 4x100m team, including Mari Testa, will return to defend their MOC championship this year where they hope to return to the State Final after an unfortunate disqualification last year. The team ran well in the State Prelims, posting their fastest time of the season in 48.04 to snag the seventh qualifying spot to the final. Their relay team won the league championship, NCS Tri-Valley Championship and the MOC title on their way to the State Meet. They'll have lost two of their main players, Sara Tabibian, who now runs for Colgate University and Kyrstin Wilson who now runs for the University of Puget Sound, but will likely still have typical Campolindo depth to bounce back from the loss. 

4x400m relay

Deer Valley ran a 3:57.74 to secure the NCS MOC title last year and a bid to State, but scratched their team. Clayton Valley, Foothill (Pleasanton) and St. Mary's College were the remaining advancing teams to Clovis, but no NCS teams made it out of the prelims.

Melody Karpinski is the head TF/XC coach at Montgomery HS and a regular contributor to MileSplit

Photos by Jennifer Koziel, DeAnna Turner, and Dan Tyree

California MileSplit state editor Jeffrey Parenti contributed to this article