RECAP San Diego Frosh-Soph Stars Shine at Dick Wilkins

San Diego High sophomore Anisa Bowen-Fontenot (middle in blue) used Saturday's San Diego frosh-soph showcase to run the second-fastest all-conditions 100m hurdles race in California this outdoor season.

Photo credit: Phil Grooms

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SAN DIEGO -- A year ago, between Scripps Ranch's Aaliyah McCormick (San Diego Section record 13.41), San Diego's Charlize James (CIF-State 100-meter champion) and Cathedral Catholic's Kapiolani Coleman (State 300-meter hurdle winner), the SDS pretty much dominated California girls' hurdles.

Although McCormick (Oregon) and James (San Diego State) have graduated, Coleman is still running well. But now, unsung sophomore Anisa Bowen-Fontenot of San Diego High is suddenly someone to watch.

To watch carefully.

Bowen-Fontenot captured the 100-meter hurdles at the 37th Dick Wilkins Frosh-Soph Championships in 14.01 seconds, a rare wind-aided race with a friendly 3.2 mps breeze.

That's a big drop under any conditions from her previous best of 14.29. That time ranks CA No. 2 overall for all-conditions and U.S. No. 6 in the class.

It was the top performance on Saturday in the meet at Del Norte High which also featured a 4:16.28 in the 1600-meter by Del Norte freshman Cameron Yarbrough and a personal best 2:14.80 in the 800 by La Jolla High ninth-grader Chiara Dailey.

"Now I know I can get into the 13s," said Bowen-Fontenot, a 15-year-old who came back to win the 100-meter dash in 12.38 -- sans wind.

"I didn't think sub-14, I just was focusing on my start. The end of the race is always my strength and I've been working on my start, so I'm very happy. I didn't feel the wind-in fact, when I run my mind goes blank. I'm just thinking 'go, go, go.'

"I just wondered how I'd do once I got to the finish line, and I'm very happy."

She admitted that breaking in last year while competing against the big three -- especially teammate James -- allowed her to improve without a lot of fanfare. That figures to end now.

"The wind actually pushed me a little on the side," said Bowen-Fontenot, who was denied a triple when Carlsbad soph Morgan Herbst proved the stronger of the two runners to capture the 300-meter hurdles in 44.04, off her best of 43.58.

"We had a false start but I didn't let that psyche me out, I was focused."

Yarbrough was expected to get a push from Sage Creek freshman Josiah Bowman in the 1600 but that race was settled quickly when Yarbrough surged 150 meters into the race, clocked a 66 second first lap and then really went to work.

"I could have pushed it more the last 100 meters and gotten to 4:13," said Yarbrough.

He took it out in 66 seconds and then left everyone in his wake with splits of 64, 63 and finished with a 61. While that might seem acceptable, it was about the only thing that Yarbrough regretted, hoping to break 60 in the final lap.

"The key to running faster for me is to break 60 seconds on that last lap. I think with someone close to me I would have been able to do that. Taking it out, I wanted to turn and burn. Whatever it takes, I'm going to work 10 times harder to make it to state this year."

The question remains what he'll run after competing in the section 800, where he has a best of 1:56.18 and won that race in 2:00.31 Saturday after scorching a 57-second first lap and then felt the effects of the earlier race, and the 1600.

After the section meet, he'll make up his mind what he'll do if he qualifies for both at state.

His long-term goals, though, are very specific.

"I want 4:13 this year, 4:08 next year as a sophomore and then under 4:00 as a junior," said the youngster with torrid kick. "My senior year we'll just see how much faster I can go.

As for Dailey, she was a late entrant in the 800, which is her slowest of the distance races comparably to the 1600 and 3200.  Not that it mattered.

Francis Parker's Navah Lipsky, who came in with a best of 2:16.11, stayed with Dailey for most of the race but the La Jolla red-head edged ahead with 300 meters remaining and was too powerful down the stretch to beat. Her 2:14.80 clipped more than a second off her previous PR of 2:16.48.

Remember, Dailey is running track for the first time after finishing second in the state in cross country in her first season.

Del Norte's Emily Russo won the won the sophomore girls 1600 in 5:04.78 and doubled back to place second in the 3200. She is also member of the Nighthawks' 4x800 relay team that set the San Diego Section record of 9:00.77 at Arcadia.

"I wanted under 5 minutes but really, I like the 4x800 better," said Russo, who got little competition.

"It's a team thing-it's more exciting, it's fun.  Today there was no one around to push me in the 1600."

One of the more interesting aces of the day came in the girls' 200 where Carlsbad twins Morgan Herbst and Makenna Herbst squared off in a rare sister showdown.

Morgan proved the faster of the two by winning the metric furlong in 24.81 seconds over Makenna's 25.33 in second.

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

Photos by Phil Grooms