Helix senior Adren Parker qualified in three events at the Division 1 Prelims.
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SAN DIEGO - There are times when you can't help but wonder if there is a wizard somewhere jinxing the San Diego Section girls' hurdlers.
Even those with short memories would find it difficult to forget how section record-holder and state leader Aaliyah McCormick of Scripps Ranch was disqualified in a highly controversial 100-meter hurdle race in last year's State Meet Prelims at Clovis.
It was a 2-1 decision that was loudly booed and although there have been re-runs in such an instance previously, McCormick never had a chance.
That was last year.
This year, 2022 State Meet 300-meter hurdle champion Kapiolani Coleman of Cathedral Catholic will not even have a chance to make it two in a row after an accident in her home the Thursday before the section preliminaries Saturday proved disastrous.
"She fractured a bone in her ankle," said Dons coach Dan Geiger of Coleman, who will attend the University of Washington in the fall. "The family sought out the opinion of the doctors who said she would not be able to run."
In Coleman's stead, Cathedral Catholic freshman teammate Anna Wilson won the event, clocking a time of 46.33.
Coleman had clocked a then-state leading 42.58-second time in the long hurdles at the Mt. Carmel Invitational and she was also among the section leaders in the 100-hurdles at 14.33.
Her personal best time of 42.19 set a year ago is No. 4 all-time in San Diego Section history. Coleman also finished third in the 100-meter hurdles behind San Diego High's Charlize James, having clocked a 14.05 which ranks No. 5 all-time in section history.
Here's a quick look at the top performances in the section prelims.
DIVISION I (at Del Norte High)
A couple months ago it looked like La Mesa's Helix High High might have enough speed to make a run at the state boys team title.
But while the Scotties are still hopeful for a Division I title heading into next Saturday's Masters meet/State qualifier at Mt. Carmel High, the dreams of a state crown have been dashed with freshman sensation Brandon Arrington unable to run in the prelims.
Arrington had run a leg on the 4x100 relay and won the Grossmont League 100-meter dash before he re-injured himself and was forced to withdraw from the Division I prelims.
That doesn't mean Helix didn't fare well. Not with Adren Parker ready to post some impressive times in the championships.
Parker easily qualified in the 400 at 47.61, less than a second off his section record 46.63 run at the Mt. SAC Relays. He came back to post a 21.63 in the 200 after also helping that 4x100 relay team, that ran 41.14 with Arrington, qualify at 42.66.
Another Helix standout, hurdler Shon Martin, swept the two events, using a 2.6 meter-per-second wind to stop the timer in 14.38 in the short hurdles before surprising with a 38.64 in the 300-meter hurdles, the fastest time in the division.
This division was impressive elsewhere as eight of the top nine times in the section 3200 prelims were recorded with Otay Ranch's Jacob Juden (9:23.80) leading the way. The 1600, too, sizzled as freshman Cameron Yarbrough (4:13.04) and Juden (4:13.25) were up front.
Torrey Pines' Joey Weisman cleared 16-feet to take the section lead in the pole vault while Rancho Buena Vista's Tyler Knowles, who moved up the state leaderboard in the discus at 185-5 last week, easily qualified in both weight events at 58-4 and 167-1.
On the girls' side, Eastlake freshman Jaelyn Williams made her presence known by posting the best times in both distance races. Her personal best 4:48.82 in the 1600 was impressive on a day that the likes of Poway's Tessa Buswell (4:50.81) and Del Norte's Hannah Riggins (4:55.67) saved their best for next week.
Riggins, who set a section record of 2:06.69 in the 800 at Arcadia, dropped that event and will focus on the 1600, where she was fifth a year ago, and the 4x800 relay where the Nighthawks struck gold at Arcadia.
Carlsbad's Morgan Herbst, a sophomore who took up the long hurdles just this season, was the No. 1 qualifier in the 300s at 43.56 while San Diego's Anisa Bowen-Fontenot (photo above) looked strong winning the short hurdles in 14.61 on the same track she went a windy 14.01 three weeks earlier.
DIVISION II (at University City High)
Although the big story of the day was Coleman being unable to compete, there were some quality performances elsewhere.
La Costa Canyon junior Gioana Lopizzo warmed up for what is expected to be a torrid 1600 and 3200 double by sweeping those events in 4:52.77 and 10:40.09. With bests of 4:45.94 (Mt. SAC) and a section record 9:59.08 (Arcadia), she'll be looking to post even faster times next week.
Point Loma's Manuel Correia swept the boys' 800 (1:54.71) and 1600 (4:15.76), easily cruising to victory in his heats.
Scripps Ranch's Lizzie Tarczy, one of the state's best in the high jump at 5-9, topped 5-8, again showing she's one of the more consistent jumpers in an event that often produces upsets at state.
LCC's Iliana Downing and Poway's Avery Hilliard from Division I figure to keep the officials late in the pole vault finals after both qualified with marks of 13-3.
DIVISION III (at Canyon Hills)
While this division often lacks depth, there was certainly nothing wrong with the front-running performances.
La Jolla had two of the standouts as junior speedster Payton Smith and freshman distance ace Chiara Dailey lived up to the pre-meet hype.
Smith posted times of 24.30 and 55.91 to win the 200 and 400 in the day's best times on any track while Dailey made the rest of the distance runners wonder if she really plans to run all three events like she did Saturday, logging a PR in the 800 at 2:13.82, and cruising in the 1600 at 5:04.28 and the 3200 at 11:08.20.
She wasn't the only triple performer as Francis Parker's Yvonne Tremoulet swept the hurdles (16.29 and 47.48) before high jumping 5-1 and Mission Bay's Justin Reichenberg had the top marks in the pole vault (14-0), long jump (22-2.25) and the triple jump (45-3.25).
State cross country champ Micah Sanchez of Liberty Charter won both distance races (4:18.70 in the 1600 and 9:37.19 in the 3200).
Madison's Amirah Shaheed moved along by clocking an 11.87 in the 100 and 24.47 in the 200 and figures to give Smith plenty of competition the next round.
Steve Brand is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit
Photos by James Huenink