Posted: Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Wolverine Track & Field program established six new school records and enjoyed a number of strong performances this past weekend at the historic and world famous Mt. SAC Relays. The relays are held at Hilmer Lodge Stadium on the campus of Mt. San Antonio Junior College in Walnut, CA. This year marked the 51st running of the classic relay carnival.
We perservered through two long days and some definite unseasonable California heat. We ran in the very first event of the meet on Friday (Atira Richards in the girls open long jump) and the very last event of the meet (the final heat of the boys open 4X400 relay). Those two events were seperated by almost 32 hours. We also competed in the first event Saturday morning (our "B" 4X1600 relay in the open 4X1600). The Saturday event split alone was almost 16 hours. Congratulations to our athletes who overcame these challenges to enjoy another successful two days of track & field.
The meet was made even more special by the opportunity for the Wolverines to share the stage with some of track & field's great athletes. Super star athletes such as Lionel Larry, Carmelita Jeter, Duane Soloman, Jason Tunks, Chaunte Howard, Chelsea Johnson and even Olympic champions Allyson Felix and Stacy Dragila shared the Mt. SAC oval with the Wolverines. Dragila was even seen by coaches watching current Wolverine Kelsey Geiser during the open pole vault on Friday.
Another highlight of the weekend was Harvard-Westlake's Head cross-country coach and distance coach Johnny Gray being inducted into the Mt. SAC Relays Hall of Fame. A great and well deserved honor for our terrific coach. He was honored both on Wednesday night and during the meet on Saturday. Congratulations from all the Wolverines to Coach Gray on this great honor.
The meet also presented a great atmosphere off the track as Puma sponsored the meet. The massive Puma tent was in full effect during the whole meet with shoe offers, video games, an anti-gravity treadmill and even a DJ bumpin' tracks throughout the weekend. The In-n-Out truck is always part of SAC and always a favorite.
Atira Richards got us started with a seasonal best 16'3 1/2" to take 6th in the girls open long jump. This was even more impressive considering the fact that the runway was questionable at best with two levels of roleout that didn't even lay flat on an asphalt surface (yikes!!). Kelsey Geiser was up next and delivered with a 9'6" clearance and a 3rd place finish in the girls open pole vault. Close misses at 10'0" made it obvious that this milestone is simply a matter of time for the senior team captain.
Friday's most anticipated event for the Wolverines was the boys Invitational 4X800. We lined up the same squad in a slightly different order that broke the school record the previous week at Arcadia. Another school record was expected, but the real goal was the very difficult sub 8 clocking that the athlete's had wanted to achieve since the beginning of the season. Almost two full miles covered in only 8 minutes is no small feat and everyone involved knew it wouldn't be easy. Anthony Farias-Eisner led off with a smart first 400 which set him up to split a lifetime best 1:58.9 for the opening leg. This got the Wolverines off to a strong start and definitely made all the goals a possibility. David Abergel took the stick next and split a strong 2:02.6 to keep it going. Chris Vanderschans was next and set up the final assault on eight minutes with a 2:01.2 all time best split. As Chris Cheng took over for the anchor it appeared certain that the goals would be met, but we all know that nothing is truly certain until it is achieved. Chris got going with a strong first lap and brought it home equally strong to split a fantastic 1:54.5. The squad finished 5th in the Invitational race and completed the relay with an amazing time of 7:57.66. Simply an inspiring and thrilling performance.
Andrew Tobias went to work next in the triple jump. He faced some step problems early and an ankle problem late, but still bounded it out to 42'1 1/4" to take 4th in the seeded triple jump. His longest foul was certainly a high 42 or low 43 foot effort.
Saturday started early with three 4X1600 meter relays opening the precedings. The boys F/S opened it up as our "B" team in the open race. Hank Adelmann, Ben Saunders, Aaron de Toledo and Adel Kamal ran the nearly four miles in 19:24.1 for a F/S school record. The foursome broke the previous record by a little more than 21 seconds. Hank Adelmann and Ben Saunders led the way with excellent splits of 4:39.0 and 4:43.9. The Varsity Boys were next as they competed in the seeded race as our "A" team. Anthony Farias-Eisner, Kevin On, David Abergel and Michael Richardson battled throughout the race and ended with an all-time best for this specific distance with a time of 18:28.3. It was not superior to the converted mark from last weekend's Arcadia meet, but it was the fastest ever run for this exact event. Anthony split 4:44.3, Kevin 4:40.7, David 4:34.7 and Michael 4:28.5. The Girls took to the stage next and battled some inexperience at this level. We actually ran three freshman (Weissenbach/Goren/Chapus) and one sophomore (Einstein). This group ran a very strong time of 22:08.6 and missed the school's best ever for this distance by a mere 1.62 seconds. The record group they were chasing included all-time Wolverine stars Lindsay Flacks and Katie DeWitt. To be that close to a relay team that included those two great champions says a lot about the bright future this group of young Wolverines promises to enjoy with our program.
As moved into the later morning the meet suddenly moved way ahead of schedule. This created warm-up problems for our next set of races: the Girls 4X200 and Sprint Medleys for both genders. Lauren Hansson, Hilary King, Zaakirah Daniels and Nicole Sands overcame three less than ideal handoffs with some really fast running. We finished 6th in our seeded race with a new school record clocking of 1:44.46. The record going into the season was the 1:46.25 from last year's Aracdia meet. To drop a sprinting relay event record by nearly two full seconds in one season is truly something special. Coach had highlighted the Boys sprint medley as one of the key events of the meet as a high finish in the Invitational section and an eclipsing of the seventeen year old school record was most certainly in reach. Initial hand-off problems between Adam Bloch and Jamias Jones set the whole thing in doubt, but fast splits by Jamias Jones-22.9, Matthew Bedford-50.4 and Chris Cheng-1:56.9 righted the ship. We finished 2nd in the Invitational with a school record clocking of 3:34.43. We dropped more than one second off of the previous standard. Excellent work even though we all knew more was possible. The girls went next and used a squad of Sydney Haydel, Kelsey Geiser, Atira Richards and Lily Einstein to place a nice 6th in the Invitational race.
As the meet moved into the afternoon, the heat set in and made everything a challenge. Athletes, coaches and parents were definitely feeling the effects as we moved through the afternoon. The next big highlight was the Girls 4X100 as Hansson, King, Daniels and Sands returned to win the first open heat and record the 3rd best time overall for all eight open heats. The 49.02 clocking is the second fastest in school history and the ten year old school record of 48.85 appears to be most certainly in jeopardy.
Sydney Haydel got her turn next in the Girls Invitational Shot Put. She jumped out early to a strong mark of 39'7 3/4" and a 3rd place position halfway through the event. Late foul problems prevented her from moving up, but a 3rd place finish in the Invitational section at Mt. SAC is big time indeed. Her result was the finest individual finish by any Wolverine over the two days of competition.
The final act was some truly amazing 4X400s run around 10:30 Saturday night. The girls took to the track first with the express goal to set a seasonal best and begin to set the stage in the long relay for league and ultimately CIF success. Zaakirah Daniels, Jennie Porter, Sydney Haydel and Lauren Hansson combined to do just that as they took 2nd in our heat and completed the four laps in a seasonal best 4:07.25. Jennie ran the leg two back stretch tangent to perfection and Sydney competed well in only her third running event this whole season. Lauren anchored home in an impressive 59.5 to finish the job. The Boys then took aim on their race with a school record goal definitely in mind. The coaches felt seasonal best was likely and expected, but no talk of the school record came up at all. Fortunately in this instance, the athletes knew more about what was about to happen than the coaches . The event was even more complicated by the fact that meet management had decided to overload races into alleys and not use individual lanes or starting blocks in order to save time. This style is always used at the Penn Relays and is really a track & field spectacle in Philadelphia each April. Ironically it is known on the east coast as the California start. Odd since with our staff's extensive, extensive years in the sport, it was the first time any of us had ever seen this special race format utilized in California. Although the 2003 squad ran it in both boys and girls during a visit to the Penn Relays that year. The first and fourth heats both featured spectacular "crashes" and we all felt more concerned about getting through unscathed more than running especially fast. Coach Watts prepared the guys for what to expect and how to deal with it and the combination of coaching and execution was flawless. Jamias Jones flew out of the blocks and won the race to the break and the end of the backstretch in front of all the traffic. We all knew that this was the biggest key to running anything truly special in this format. Jamias held off all in the first leg and passed to Anthony Farias-Eisner after a tremendous 51.5 leg. Anthony split a strong 52.8 and held off all but one team. Chris Cheng took the stick next and immediately got busy putting space on the field. He split an awesome 50.4 and set us up for the final assualt on the fifteen year old school record. Matthew Bedford took up the charge and immediately put the hammer down as he flew around the track. Matthew split an awe inspiring 49.1 and stopped the clock at an eye-popping 3:24.34 for the new school record. The celebration was in full effect despite the hour as the Wolverines won the final race of the meet and were the champions of the open 4X400 having posted the best time of the four heats by a wide margin.
Other Wolverine events from around the meet:
Malcolm Caldwell-Meeks - 124'11" for 16th in the seeded Discus. (Always difficult to adjust to the sunken ring and crowned landing field on the Discus facility at SAC)
Boys 4X100 (Bloch, Jones, Okano, Bedford) ran a 45.10 in the sprint relay.
Freshman Cami Chapus was unfortunately moved by meet management into the Invitational 800 meters at the last moment and found the competition to naturally be a bit daunting. She still battled hard enough to run a seasonal best 2:25.42 and move up one slot on the school's all-time list.
Boys Distance Medley (Abergel, Markes, Vanderschans and Richardson) battled shoe problems for anchor Michael Richardson and overall fatigue and still became the 4th fastest grouping in school history with a 10:53.88 time. Abergel split a very nice 3:16.9 for 1200 in this relay.
Special recognition and thank yous goes to Stanford bound senior team captain Atira Richards who attended every moment of both days at the meet. In that time she only competed in two events, but contributed in countless ways to make our experience better, smoother and easier.