Onward To State! Dezeurn, Engelhardt Secure Masters Wins

* Bishop Alemany's Demare Dezeurn secured his first CIF SS Masters title in the 100m on Saturday

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit

by Ryan Blystone - MileSplit California

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MOORPARK -- The CIF-Southern Section Masters Track and Field Championships meet always carries a catch-22 feel to it.

Paring down the number of entrants from California's largest high school sections for next weekend's CIF State Outdoor Championships in Clovis, California, proved to be a difficult task.

Sixteen events -- 10 for girls, six for boys -- at Moorpark High School's facility wound up qualifying more than the sought-after six places as multiple relay teams and individuals met the state at-large standards, thus numerous athletes received automatic berths beyond the threshold.

The girls and boys 800 meter races, for instance, qualified 11 and 12, respectively. The girls 4x100 relay qualified all nine teams. It was the same story, too, with all nine entrants in the girls 100m and 200m dashes. On the boys side, 10 runners advanced in the 1,600m and nine triple jumpers will compete at state.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Call it a good problem to have when the talent among 500-plus schools across Southern California is plentiful.

How about this scenario? The boys 100m actually got the required six runners.



For more information, visit our CIF Outdoor State Championship meet page.

But the top four? Two freshmen -- Bishop Alemany's Demare Dezeurn and Long Beach Poly's Benjamin Harris -- were first and second, clocking wind-aided times of 10.36 and 10.43.

A junior, Devin Bragg of Los Alamitos, ran in 10.47, and Valencia sophomore Brian Bonner followed in 10.48. The lone senior, Jeremiah Harris of Roosevelt, was fifth in 10.55. Notre Dame Sherman Oaks junior Steele Pizzella was the final qualifier in 10.64.

Benjamin Harris qualified for the state championships in three events: the 100m, 200m and as a member of Poly's 4x100 relay which finished second.

But several athletes qualified in more than one event across the day.

The girls and boys discus and shot put titles were swept, respectively by Notre Dame Sherman Oaks junior Aja Johnson and Pacifica Garden Grove senior Zach Lewis. Both are returning to the state meet for the third straight year.

Johnson, whose Masters meet marks Saturday were 46-10 in the shot and 145-6 in the discus, is the defending California girl's shot put champion. This season marks her third straight appearance at state in the shot put and second in the discus. She was fourth in discus last year with what remains her personal best, 154-3.

Lewis' late-season peak appears to be on target for the state meet, and he said so on Saturday after winning Masters meet titles in the shot put with a personal record of 62-0.50 and 180-0 in the discus. He reached state in each of the last two seasons in shot put, finishing sixth in the final last year and 15th in the prelims over his sophomore season. He's preparing for a second straight state discus appearance, looking to improve on his 13th-place showing in the prelims.

"Qualifying for state has kind of just been a duty, it's what I've needed to do," Lewis said. "I've always been consistent. It's not really the qualification that excites me, but the fact I'll be going back to state to have a chance to win."

Other two-event qualifiers who came close to a double title accomplishment include Alyssa Alumbres of Vista Murrieta, who won the triple jump in a personal-best mark of 40-4. Her 19-1.25 effort in the long jump was a runner-up finish to Long Beach Poly's Loren Webster (19-3.25).

Chaparral's Keelan Wright won the 200m in 23.48, but was fourth in the 100m (11.56). Jeremiah Harris of Roosevelt was fifth in the 100m, but he also won the 200m (21.22, +3.2). Long Beach Poly's Kaylin Edwards won the 300mH (42.03) and was the 100mH runner-up (14.11) -- she did, however, run on Poly's winning 4x400 relay team.

Calabasas qualified athletes, including senior twin sisters Zoe and Lahela Ray, in three events. They were on the winning 4x100 relay, on the second-place 4x400 relay and they finished sixth and seventh in the 400.

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit

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Ventura junior Sadie Engelhardt won the 1,600m in 4:45.05, but she was pleased to acknowledge the competition as well as having a teammate, junior Tiffany Sax, qualified with an at-large state standard.

"The competition definitely has to be talked about," Engelhardt said. "Just the fact that everyone was there with a lap to go is kind of crazy. I don't remember what kind of pace we were on but it was moving. I think the only thing I would have wanted was to see both of my teammates go through (in state qualifying) but Tiffany made it so that was good."

Later in the day, Engelhardt, Sax, Aelo Curtis and Melanie True worked extremely well together in the 4x800 relay, which is in its second year as a state meet title-contested event.

The foursome ran solidly in 9:02.57 to not only lower their previous best by nearly nine seconds, but also take over the California lead in the 4x800 relay previously held by Santiago Corona (9:04.87).

A few other big performances came from athletes who dominated in their one event.

Martin Luther King senior Jaden McKee closed the Masters meet by attempting to go 17-1 in the pole vault. He had cleared 16-6 to win the title, but his aim was higher. He's gone 17-0 this season, but he said he really wanted to get to 17-1 -- perhaps he'll save that for state.

His female counterpart, Vista Murrieta senior Aspen Fears, had another stellar performance. Fears won Saturday with a 13-3 mark. Last year she recorded her PR here at 13-4. Sophomore year, she won with another 13-3. 

"I definitely want to go out with a bang," she said. "It means winning all of the meets that I can, especially these CIF meets because I work hard and want to see it pay off."

Boys high jumper Joshua Harel, a sophomore for Notre Dame, qualified atop a competitive field with a successful 6-10 jump. He's come on the last few weeks, including a 7-0.25 at last week's CIF-SS Division finals, which is the current top mark in California.

The 3,200m was a boost to Santiago Corona's Rylee Blade, who repeated as the event's winner in 10:15.0, and to Dana Hills' Evan Noonan, who enjoyed the mental aspects of winning the battle against Millikan's Jason Parra that saw them finish sub-8:50.

Noonan registered a time of 8:48.56 and Parra went 8:49.92.

Witnessing some of the section's best distance runners put together performances that fulfilled their training and preparation goals while also knowing how it can connect to what's ahead of them was impressive. 

Related Links: 

CIF Southern Section Masters Championship meet page

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