CIF finals produce noteworthy performances
So many notable events occurred at last Saturday's CIF-Southern Section track and field finals at Mount San Antonio College, the numbers are still being sifted through at midweek.
Most notable were the team championships won in Division 2 by Simi Valley High's girls and in Division 3 by Rio Mesa's boys. Both teams needed every ounce of their depth to claim the victories and both of them needed to come from behind in the last couple of events to pull off the wins.
Simi Valley was trailing San Bernardino-Cajon by 13 points as the evening drew to its conclusion, but sophomore Sarah Baxter rebounded from the first high school loss of her career earlier in the day in the 1,600 meters to win the 3,200 in 10 minutes, 27.90 seconds.
That was followed by a second-place finish from the 4x400 relay team of Kelly Weldon, Sunita Shelly, Jasmine Haffar and Amanda Hamilton to lift the Pioneers to a 56-51 victory over Cajon.
"Our girls were tired," Simi Valley coach Roger Evans said, "and Amanda Hamilton, I knew, was absolutely exhausted. She was spent. She had run the 300 hurdles, went right over to the triple jump with no rest in between, finished that up, came over for the 4x4.
"... Our girls ran spectacularly. Amanda had to hold off all those other anchor girls and she did it."
Rio Mesa was behind by five points to Sherman Oaks-Notre Dame, but a win in the 4x400 relay by Darion Zimmerman, Drew Weisenberger, Blake Selig and Cameron Roach gave the Spartans a 63-59 edge.
"I thought it was a great event because of the drama, coming down to the last race," Rio Mesa coach Brian FitzGerald said. "We didn't know if we could do it or not."
Rio Mesa is perennially known for its sprinters, but at the CIF-SS finals, it took all hands on deck to win.
"We couldn't have done it without any of those kids that were there," FitzGerald said. "They all scored points that we had to have."
It's the first track championship for Rio Mesa, which was runner-up in 1989 and 2010. It's also the first track title for Simi Valley's girls. Simi is the 13th CIF-SS school to win track and cross country titles in the same school year. Agoura did it twice in a row (1988-89). Corona del Mar has done it four times and did it three times in a row between 2005 and 2007.
ALL THE BEST
It may have been eye-popping that Simi Valley's Baxter lost Saturday in the 1,600, but her time of 4:49.33 was not only a personal record, but also was the sixth best in Ventura County history.
Baxter was put in the 1,600, Evans said, only to help the Pioneers score team points. Even though she finished second, the eight points she scored were vital to the five-point victory.
Baxter will concentrate on only the 3,200 at Friday's CIF-SS Masters Meet at Cerritos College and at the state meet June 1-2 in Clovis.
There were 15 other performances Saturday that made the county all-time top 10 list, led by Thousand Oaks' Caitlin Turner in the 800.
Turner's time of 2:10.81 moved her to No. 2 in county history. It's the best performance since Desiree Joubert of Westlake ran 2:09.62 in 1986.
Others to move into the all-time county girls top 10 are:
• Simi Valley's Hamilton, 44.21 in the 300 hurdles, No. 10.
• Sydney Lewis, Oak Park, 24.32 in the 200, tie for No. 7.
• Danni Alakija, Oaks Christian, 24.32 in the 200, tie for No. 7, and 55.00 in the 400, No. 4.Karsen Sper, Thousand Oaks, 14.45 in the 100 hurdles, No. 6.Oaks Christian 4x100 relay, 47.07, No. 2.
• Marissa Rossi, Calabasas, 38 feet, 2¾ inches in the triple jump, No. 6.
• Rio Mesa's 4x100 relay team of Rod White, Selig, Zimmerman and Roach turned in a time of 41.05 scorched the CIF-SS Division 3 record of 41.08 by Serra set in 1998, and is also the second best time in county history.
Others to move into the all-time county boys top 10 are:
• Rio Mesa's Roach, 21.59 in the 200, No. 10.
• Rio Mesa's Zimmerman, 48.18 in the 400, No. 8.
• Rio Mesa's 4x400 relay, 3:16.02, No. 3.
• Luigi Colella, Westlake, 15-9 in the pole vault, No. 4.
• Vinnie Saucer, Oaks Christian, 10.54 in the 100, No. 4, and 21.42 in the 200, No. 8.
• Oaks Christian 4x100 relay, 41.35, No. 5.