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Conejo Valley athletes take flight at county track championships | Thousand Oaks Acorn

Published by
Scott Joerger   on May 5 2011, 04:50 PM

Conejo Valley athletes take flight at county track championships

2011-05-05 / Sports
Oaks Christian girls dominate while Panthers, Lancers secure wins
By Eliav Appelbaum

The Ventura County Track and Field Championships had it all.

 

There were moments of joy, pain and disappointment at Moorpark High last weekend.

 

Superstars Johnathan Cabral, Sarah Baxter and Connor Stark impressed with absurdly decisive victories. Oaks Christian’s girls dazzled and the Rio Mesa boys’ sprinters dominated.

 

Cabral, a senior at Agoura High School, set meet records in the 110 hurdles (13.46 seconds) and 300 hurdles (37.23).

 

Cabral is the fastest hurdler in the nation, according to DyeStat.com.

 

 The Charger, who signed a scholarship with the University of Oregon, said he’s been working on his starts and form, including snapping his leg down quickly.

 

Baxter, a precocious Simi Valley freshman, obliterated her competition in the girls’ 3,200. The Pioneer completed eight laps in a cool 10:30.47, almost 30 seconds faster than anyone else. Teammate Amanda Hamilton, a junior, won the girls’ 300 hurdles in 45.9 seconds.

 

Stark cemented his name in Ventura County lore with a pole vault of 16 feet, a meet record.

 

“I’m really looking forward to CIF and vaulting against top people who give me good competition,” the Oak Park junior said.

 

Stark said he must stay mentally strong if he wants to earn a top-three state finish.

 

Oaks Christian’s girls ran wild at the meet.

 

The Lions 4x800 relay quartet of Amy Anderson, Alex Beck, Niki MacWhirter and Jessica Pantuso kicked off the day with a Ventura County record, completing the relay in 9:55.36.

 

Danielle Alakija also starred for Oaks Christian.

 

The sophomore won the 400 (55.32 seconds) and 200 (25.22) and ran legs in victorious 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

 

She was giddy after edging Newbury Park’s Morgan Thompson in the 400.

 

“I’m so excited,” said Alakija, who turned 15 on Tuesday. “I went into the (400) race thinking, ‘I will be happy to take second.’ At the 300 mark, I said, ‘I’m going big. I’m going home.’”

 

Alakija has been training hard with sprints coach and Olympic medal winner Maurice Greene.

 

“I asked my coach to (let me) run with the guys just to push myself,” she said. “I don’t like running behind people. They push me to get in front of them.”

 

Oaks Christian teammate Ally Courtnall won the 100 dash in 12.27, edging La Reina’s Hanna Winter (12.36). Courtnall nabbed second behind Alakija in the 200 (25.25).

 

Asha Culhane and Gillian Lloyd joined Alakija and Courtnall in the 4x400 relay. Abby King, Culhane, Alakija and Courtnall clinched the 4x100 in a school record time of 48.71.

 

“We’ve transformed a lot as a team,” said Courtnall, bound for the UCLA soccer team. “We’ve accomplished so much and we’re dropping our times.”

 

Rio Mesa’s Marcus Alford, LaDarrin Roach, Blake Selig and Cameron Roach won the boys’ 4x100 relay in 41.18 seconds, a county invitational record.

 

Selig, Darion Zimmerman and the Roach brothers joined forces to win the 4x400 in 3:20.16. Selig also won the 200 (21.89).

 

LaDarrin Roach, a senior who has verbally committed to Arizona State, zoomed to victory in the 400 in 48.97. Roach missed the 2010 Ventura County Championships with a pulled a hamstring.

 

Megan Thompson of Newbury Park earned a remarkable win in the girls’ 800 in 2:17.8. A relative novice in the event, Thompson improved from her previous best time of 2:22.

 

“That’s a huge jump,” said Thompson, a sprinter who contributes in multiple events for the Panthers. “The 800 is about speed and endurance. It’s a whole different state of mind.”

 

Newbury Park’s Sean Grumney overcame illness and injury to win the boys’ 800 in 1:56.18.

 

Although he wasn’t his sharpest, Grumney dug deep to capture the race.

 

“It wasn’t my fastest time, but I’m pleased with the win,” said Grumney, who signed with UCLA. “Even if I feel bad, I need to put myself in a better mental position. Today I was off, but I told myself, ‘Let’s go for the win.’”

 

The Panther has big goals in the 800.

 

“I want to win state,” he said.

 

Moorpark’s Quinn Harris took home county titles in the triple jump (45-7.5) and long jump (22- 1.75).

 

Thousand Oaks’ Karsen Sper (100 hurdles, 15.33) and Nikoletta Georgalis of Moorpark (long jump, 17-06.75) won girls’ invitational championships. Heyden Wooff of Camarillo (3,200, 9:22.6) and Oaks Christian’s Ishmael Adams (100, 10.99) and Allen Stevens (high jump, 6-4) locked up boys’ crowns.

 

The Ventura County Track and Field Championships wasn’t just for the big dogs.

 

Sullivan Wall, the only athlete from Grace Brethren in Simi Valley, won the seeded discus throw in 144-3. The sophomore’s previous best toss was 133-8.

 

“I cleared my mind, took a deep breath, forgot about anything and just threw,” said Sullivan, a strong safety in football.

 

“It’s a really big undertaking to represent a whole school. Grace Brethren stands for a Christian place of education. I have to watch how I talk and act and represent all 230 kids who go there. I’m happy to be here.”

Read the full article at: www.toacorn.com
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