RECAP JSerra Dominates at the CIF-SS Division 3 Prelims

JSerra girls were dominant at the Southern Section Division 3 Preliminaries at Yorba Linda HS.

For the first time, the CIF-SS Division 3 prelims were held at Yorba Linda High and the section transitioned away from Estancia High. With that, the top-ranked JSerra girls squad checked all of the boxes as expected in advancing more than any other team, regardless of division.

Meanwhile, the JSerra boys are now embattled in a nail-biter as we now project, on paper, to have them in a virtual dead heat going into this weekend.

Checking back to the record books on this one, but we do not recall a team ever qualifying six athletes into one event which is exactly what JSerra did in the girl's 800 meters. After advancing three in the 1600 meters along with two more in the 3200, they could very well score over 60 points in just the three distance events! Anne Elise Packard goes into this weekend as the favorite in the 1600 meters, with Georgia Jeanneret favored in the 800 meters. Both will also play key roles on that heavily favored 4x400 relay squad.

JSerra freshman Maya Woolforde also advanced in the 200 along with being the favorite in the 400 meters. Adding to the scoring machine, senior Hanna Barmettler qualified in the 100 and 300 hurdles, which should be very well enough to earn their first CIF-SS divisional title.

But, JSerra also projects to score heavily in the field events which is why they are projected to score 128 points and establish a new team title scoring record for Division 3 (eclipsing Santa Margarita's 112 points from 2017).

Senior Siena Lambert expects to add an additional 10-12 points as she advanced in both throws, Barmettler also qualified in the long jump. Meanwhile, four more scoring opportunities present themselves in the pole vault while two additional entrants are in the high jump.

The Notre Dame dynamic throwing duo of senior April Fontenette and sophomore Aja Johnson checked in to easily advance as both are, respectively, ranked first and second in California for the shot put and discus. And, to give a preview into our crystal ball for the state meet in several weeks, these two could single-handedly yield their program a state title. More on that in the upcoming weeks...

The Division 3 prelims also offered everybody a glance at the postseason plan for Castaic junior Meagan Humphries. She not only advanced in her four events, but the phenom also posted the top efforts in each - triple jump (40-3), long jump (19-9.5), high jump (5-0), and the 200 meters (wind-legal 24.38). Another reason why we have Castaic ranked fourth as a team, junior Regan Thompson qualified in the high jump while also jumping onto the track to advance in the 200 (24.99w) and the 400 (58.26). 

Another top talent that impressed was South Pasadena junior Mia Holden. She won her heat in the 100 meters (12.19) after helping her 4x100 relay advance. While also qualifying for the triple jump (37-6), she rolled to the win in the 300 hurdles (44.89).

La Canada's Maya DeBrouwer turned heads with her 10:35.70 qualifying effort for the 3200 meters, but for further context - this was only her second time doing the event with her previous effort being 11:14.39! Laguna Hills sophomore Holly Barker kept pace by crossing at 10:39.30.

Mission Viejo senior Jada Gatlin easily qualified in both horizontal jumps while teammate a fellow state meet qualifier from 2022, senior Emily Psarras will join her in the long jump. While both played huge roles in their 4x100 relay (48.08) squad earning lane five for next week, Psarras also advanced in the 100 (12.24w) and 200 (25.07w).

Onto the boys, Cathedral two junior 'Mannys' cruised forward in both the 1600 and 3200 meters. Emmanuel Perez  ran the top time for the 1600 (4:16.77) while teammate, Emmanuel Hernandez claimed the top spot for the 3200 (9:26.15). The Phantoms are seeking between 32-36 points just between the two of them. Junior Ambodai Ligons Cathedral looks to lock up the 800 meters as he cruised to the top time (1:56.02) and is also the favorite.

With a more balanced approach, JSerra will lean on the throws to answer for Cathedral's distance dominance. Favored to capture the state titles in both throws in several weeks, senior Brendon See did not need much to advance with his 178-1 effort in the discus and 59-8 measurement for the shot put. Senior Jake Stafford JSerra also looks to at least 12-14 additional points in the discus and high jump.  

In the horizontal jumps, senior Josh Jornadal qualified in both jumps and is projected to score 16-18 points. Meanwhile, Trevor Garrison moved forward in the 200 and 400 and will look to complement JSerra's power hitters.

Santa Margarita senior Roman Mendoza, ranked atop the statewide leaderboard in the 300 hurdles, advanced in both hurdles.  But, also shining in the hurdles with one of the breakthrough performances across all divisions, Damien senior Nick Nocero erupted with a 38.02 in the 300 hurdles after also advancing in the 110 hurdles.  His previous best was 39.67!

Back from a mid-season injury, Servite senior Alex Skalmowski motored to the top seeds with wind-legal 100 (10.78) and 200 (21.64) efforts.  Fellow Trinity League foe, Orange Lutheran senior Matthew Kaloustian will join him as he also impressed with wind-legal 10.80 and 21.87 performances.

Other top performers include Harvard Westlake senior Benson Fleischer who also advanced in the 100 (11.03) and 200 (21.88) while advancing as one of the top long jumpers (22-0.5) and leading his 4x100 relay squad forward as well.

Only a sophomore, Chaminade's Seth Shigg rolled to lifetime bests of 48.43 (400) and 21.87 (200) to qualify. In the 400 meters, Northview junior Dylan Ochoa upset the pecking order as his 48.38 top time was a surprise, being that his previous best was 49.94.

Moorpark senior Victor Ezike was one of the few to qualify for three events as he will have a busy afternoon this weekend. One of the favorites to capture the high jump, he also advanced in the long jump (20-8.75) and triple jump (42-11.5).

Recap by Mark Gardner | Photos by Raymond Tran