A total of 10 athletes from the Glendale-La Cañada area will compete in 12 events with titles and more at stake at Saturday's CIF Southern Section Track and Field Championships at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
Perhaps no three competitors enter with better odds of winning a championship than do La Cañada High's Claire Murray, St. Francis' Matthew Molina and Flintridge Prep's Evan Pattinelli.
Murray will take part in Saturday's Division III 100-meter hurdles at 2:20 p.m. as the division's top seed. The junior broke her school record at the Division III preliminaries on May 13 with a winning mark of 14.60 seconds.
"I really believe she has the possibility to do well on Saturday," La Cañada Coach Casey Mollett said. "She competed at Estancia last week and she turned in an exceptional time even with a tailwind, which I believe served her well as she's getting ready for Cerritos."
According to Mollett, Murray is her school's first hurdler to advance to the Southern Section championships since 110- and 300-meter Rio Hondo League titlist Mark Moore qualified in 2002.
Murray's mark on Saturday was the seventh-best across all four division prelims taking place and she'll likely need to at least match that time to advance to the Masters Meet at Arcadia High on Friday, May 26.
The top 12 marks guarantee advancement in all field events along with the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. For the sprints and hurdles, a qualifier needs to place in the top nine.
As for Molina, the St. Francis sophomore tied with seven other competitors for the lead at the Division III high jump prelims with a height of 6 feet, 3 inches.
Though the mark isn't all that impressive, Golden Knights Coach Mike Russell is convinced Molina is destined for more rarefied air in the competition slated at noon.
"[The 6-3 jump] was just for qualifying," Russell said. "He's a very exceptional jumper and his personal record in competition is 6-7. I expect him to go 6-8 on Saturday because he's done that a couple of times in practice."
Molina is also entered in the Division III triple jump at 2 p.m.
Patinelli is the top seed in the Division IV 3,200 race, which will be run jointly with Division I at 5:35 p.m.
Last Saturday, Pattinelli (9:39.98) held off Prep League rival Xian Shively (9:43.13) of Pasadena Poly for the second time after winning the league championship at Burroughs High on April 28.
One of the more historic runs is taking place in the Division III shot put as Hoover senior Chris White is seeded No. 2 in his division with his competition taking place between noon and 1 p.m.
White became his school's first Pacific League champion in nine years when he won the shot put at Arcadia on May 5 with a toss of 50 feet. Since then, White added to his personal record with a throw of 52-4 1/2 at Saturday's prelims.
"We haven't had a thrower in the CIF finals for a very long time, so what he's doing is very special," Hoover Coach Jack Sallakian said. "I'm glad he was able to have a very good day at prelims and all we're trying to do is get as close to a CIF title as possible."
White has a Herculean task ahead of him as he's significantly behind division-leading Kylan Wilborn. The Sherman Oaks Notre Dame thrower turned in an impressive distance of 58-1 3/4 at prelims.
Counting Pattinelli, Flintridge Prep boasts the area's largest contingent as the Rebels will send six competitors into seven events in the Division IV championships.
Senior Hannah Barakat will look to extend a storied career as she's scheduled for the 400-meter dash at 2:55 p.m. and the 200 at 4:40 p.m. Barakat is seeded third in the 400 (58.95) and fourth in the 200 (25.47).
Sophie Gitlin and Natalie O'Brien have at least one more race together in the 3,200 run at 5:05 p.m., which will be conducted concurrently with Division I. La Cañada Flintridge resident McKenna Smith, of Mayfield Senior School, is also entered in the race.
At 3:50 p.m., sophomore Sasha Codiga will compete in the Division IV 800 for Flintridge Prep, while senior Warren Hosseinion kicks off the Rebels' action sometime between noon and 1 p.m. in the shot put.