RECAP Dailey, Parker Among Highlights at San Diego Finals

La Jolla freshman Chiara Dailey separates from Hannah Riggins and an elite girls 1600-meter field at the San Diego Section Track and Field Championships on Saturday at Mt. Carmel High School.

SAN DIEGO -- Put the top distance runners in the San Diego Section together with perfect weather conditions for them -- overcast and cool -- and the odds are there are going to be some pretty special marks.

That was definitely the case when in Saturday's CIF-San Diego Section Track and Field Championships at Mt. Carmel High.

Consider that the section automatically qualifies six runners (three per gender) in the 1600-meter run for Friday's CIF-State Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis. There is a chance 11 could be ready to answer the gun after an additional five at-large berths were earned.

Not that the metric mile was the only highlight in the meet where Helix High's Adren Parker set his third section record in the 400 over two years, clocking a 46.48, eclipsing the 46.63 clocked while winning the Mt. SAC Relays.

Or how about quality double wins by San Diego High sophomore Anise Bowen-Fontenot in the hurdles at 13.92-seconds and 42.12 to go with sprint sweeps of Madison High junior Amirah Shaheed in 11.58 and 24.08?

There were quality performances in numerous events, including state high jump leader Lizzie Tarczy of Scripps Ranch barely missing at 5-10 after soaring over 5-9, but clearly the 1600s were special.

It took those kinds of performances to take the spotlight off La Jolla freshman Chiara Dailey, who captured the 1600-meters, clocking a 4:42.69 in a race where the top five finishers dipped under 4:50.

She came back to qualify for State in the 800 by finishing third in a personal best 2:12.93.

That 4:42.69 is No. 2 all-time for the section, behind only the 4:41.71 by Torrey Pines' Alli Billmeyer in 2011.

Dailey rallied after standing fifth heading into the final lap but reeled in the likes of Eastlake freshman Jaelyn Williams (4:46.26-No. 6 All-time), Del Norte's Hannah Riggins (4:46.35-No 7), La Costa Canyon's Gioana Lopizzo (4:47.71-No. 9) and Poway's Tessa Buswell (4:48.76-No. 11).

"I really didn't think I could catch the leaders but then I saw (Riggins) slow down and I thought maybe I had enough left," said Dailey. "With 200 meters to go, I caught them and then with 100 meters left I got the lead. Then I worried someone would catch me."

That wasn't going the happen as Dailey trimmed six seconds off her lifetime best.

Consider that she had never stepped on a track before this season, after placing second in the state in cross country.

Her 2:12.93 in the 800 earned her another State berth and was an almost full second improvement.

That said, the race was won by Buswell, Poway's State Meet Division I cross country champion who powered to a 2:08.30, a two-second improvement, the third-fastest 800 time in section history.

"It didn't feel that fast, especially after the 1600," said Buswell. "Once I got the lead I was afraid someone would come up behind me because inside I was dying."

Buswell said she's thinking of dropping the 1600 for State to focus on the shorter race.

The boys 1600 may not have been as punishing to the record book but it was a major supplier of talent to the State Meet and a big crowd-pleaser.

Torrey Pines' Ryan Thomas led six runners under the CIF-State at-large qualifying time at 4:10.35, holding off a late charge by Point Loma's Manuel Correia, who ran 4:10.65. 

State Division V cross country champion Micah Sanchez, who improved six seconds to 4:11.64, was followed by at-large State Meet qualifiers Tom Bell of Mt. Carmel at 4:12.37, Otay Ranch's Jacob Juden at 4:12.43 and Rancho Bernardo's Brandon Day, who recorded a 4:12.87.

As for Thomas, he made up for a close loss to Correia in the Escondido Invitational where Correia ran him down the final 200 meters for the win.

This time Thomas took the lead and expanded it going into the final 200 when Correia again made his move but came up short.

"I was going for time that meet," said Thomas of the setback at Escondido. "This time I was going for the win, so the time doesn't mean much."

Thomas ran 4:07.90 at the APU Distance Meet of Champions earlier this year and will use that time, plus getting disqualified in the 800 at State last year, to motivate him.

"I want to qualify for the finals at State as easily as I can," said Thomas, who is headed to BYU in the fall. "I'm looking for a 4:04 to a 4:06 at State."

Although Correia came up a stride short in that race, he came back to capture the 800 in 1:53.11, again using a late kick to win.

"I was looking for a faster time, something in the 1:50s," said Correia who ran 1:51.44 at Mt. SAC.

For the boys, though, Parker was just dominant in the 400-again.

"I wanted to end it off with a bang," said the Scotties senior who now has the three fastest times in section history after clocking a 46.82 in the State prelims a year ago. 

"This is my last meet in San Diego. What I've learned from last year is when to push and when to hold back and then when to pick it up again. I could improve more by running harder the final 100 meters."

A year ago he blazed in the State prelims for the record but a day later he said wasn't prepared for the speedy tactics of the others. Now he's definitely looking forward to running against the best in CA next weekend in Clovis.

Cathedral Catholic's Vincent Atilano broke the 38-second barrier for the first time to win the 300 hurdles in 37.94 after a shocking turnabout in the 110-meter highs.

The junior appeared to win the shorter hurdle race, handing Helix's Shon Martin a rare loss, but while he was celebrating the result board suddenly erased his name.

Coach Dan Geiger put his arm around Atilano and gave him the bad news-he had been disqualified.

Atilano was running in Lane 1 and was flagged for dragging his trail leg around the hurdle.

Since he was the top qualifier in the 300s, he was in lane five and there was less chance he'd drag his trail leg.

"That makes up for the DQ," said Atilano, a junior. "I was really upset until I returned to the warmup area where I decided I didn't need any negative energy heading in the 300s. I refocused and used the disqualification to motivate me." 

Other top boys' marks included La Costa Canyon senior Jason Wells sweeping the sprints, winning the 100 in a yearly section-best 10.49, which is equal to No. 7 all-time in section history. He came back to win the 200, edging Parker 21.51 to 21.56.

Sanchez returned after qualifying for the State Meet in the 1600 to outkick the field in the 3200-meter run, winning in 9:10.66.

Both section 16-foot pole vaulters, Joey Weisman of Torrey Pines and Jacob Emerson of Sage Creek qualified at 15-6 and 15-feet while sophomore Kai Anderson of University City also got a PR at 15-6 to advance.  

On the girls' front, Bowen-Fontenot ran the fourth-fastest 100-meter hurdle time in section history with the 13.92 with a legal 1.5-meter-per second aiding wind.

"I started the season looking to break 14 and now that I have, it's amazing," said Bowen-Fontenot who stands second in the state. "Yvette Harris (the leader at 13.83) is great. The thing is, as soon as the gun went off, everything went black. I don't remember much except I told myself to stay low and I usually separate from the group in the middle."

She came back in the 300-hurdles which has been hexed this season.

After defending State champion Kapiolani Coleman of Cathedral Catholic injured her ankle before the section prelims, Torrey Pines' Karina Janik, the State Meet bronze medalist a year ago, slammed into the fifth hurdle yesterday and finished sixth.

This year was a much better meet for Madison's Shaheed who was injured in the 200-meter dash a year ago and had to withdraw from the State Meet.

Although it appeared she may have tweaked that same hamstring after winning the 100 in a personal best 11.58 seconds, No. 5 all-time in section history, she still held off her best friend, La Jolla's Payton Smith (24.11) to win the 200 in 24.06, equal to the eighth all-time.

"It (the injury) resurfaced but it's not as bad as last year-just a little bit of tightness," said Shaheed.

In the high jump, Tarczy of Steele Canyon was oh, so close at 5-10.

"I feel good knowing I was over 5-10 and just brought it down," said Tarczy. "What's really great is the State Meet is at Buchanan High which is where Fresno State holds its meets and I'm going to Fresno State next year."

Smith came back from the narrow loss to Shaheed to easily win the 400 in 54.87-good but she was hoping for a sub-54 after running a 54.12 earlier.

State pole vault leader Iliana Downing (14-feet) of La Costa Canyon went 13-3 for the top mark of the day but was clearly upset.

"I felt off the whole day, but I like the pit at State," said the junior, looking forward.

One of the qualifiers in the event was Del Norte's Paige Echsner, who soared a PR 12-9 before running over for a leg on the Nighthawks' 4x800 relay team that breezed to a 9:12.91 after going 9:00.77 at Arcadia.

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

Photos by Raymond Tran