Local foursome ready, set for CIF finals

When the CIF Southern Section Track and Field Divisional Championships get underway Saturday at Cerritos College, the area will be more than well-represented.

Crescenta Valley High, Flintridge Prep, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and St. Francis have 20 entrants competing in a total of 14 events during a competition slated to last around nine hours.

While each school enters under varying circumstances and will compete in different divisions, the goals of winning a championship, advancing to the following week’s Masters Meet and turning in a personal-best time are somewhat universal.

The Falcons are the only local squad competing in ultra-competitive Division I and are entered in four events.

“Realistically, not everyone is going to make it through,” Falcons Coach Mark Evans said. “We certainly want to get as many kids as we can through and I think we have people capable of making it.”

To advance to the following week’s Masters Meet, held on May 30 back at Cerritos College, a competitor must finish in the top nine in all field and most track events with the exception of the middle- and long-distance runs.

The top-12 performers in the 800-meter, 1,600 and 3,200 runs will advance to the finals.

Perhaps Crescenta Valley’s best hope of qualifying rests in the leaping ability of junior Emmie Walker, who will compete in the Division I finals at 5:30 p.m.

The high jumper hit a personal-best mark of 5 feet, 6 inches and tied for first at the Division I prelims last Saturday at Trabuco Hills High.

“She’s had a good week of workouts and she has a great shot to make it,” Evans said. “She’s jumping well.”

Senior Gabe Collison is also a favorite in the boys’ 3,200 due to his personal-record mark of 9 minutes, 13.87 set at the prelims and the fact that his main competitor, Arcadia’s Estevan De La Rosa, was disqualified last weekend. The Division I boys’ 3,200 event will be combined with the Division III competition and run at 5:35.

Falcons junior Megan Melnyk is hoping to advance to the Masters Meet for a second consecutive year in the 800 (3:50 p.m.), while the girls’ 1,600-meter relay team is pining for a championship in their competition at 6:05.

Hopping down two divisions, St. Francis has three athletes set to go in four events in Division III.

Senior Eric Knowles is trying to advance in two competitions, first in the long jump at 11 a.m. and then later in the triple jump at approximately 2 p.m.

“I’m not quite sure if I can make it in the long jump, but I know I can make it in the triple jump,” Knowles said. “I’m just going to go there, concentrate and attack.”

Knowles commences with personal-best marks of 22-4 in the long jump and 46-5 3/4 in the triple and has listed his realistic goals this weekend for 22 feet in the long jump and 47 feet in the triple.

Teammate Ross Niederhaus, No. 1 in Division III, is set to go in the 400-meter dash at 3:10 p.m. and isn’t specifically focused on times.

“Basically, all I want to do is win,” said Niederhaus, who enters with a personal-best time of 48.38. “Getting a PR or breaking 48 would be great too, but my eyes are set on becoming a CIF champion.”

St. Francis’ Jashar Foster is also tabbed to compete in the 110-meter hurdles at 2:40 p.m.

In Division IV, both Flintridge Prep and Flintridge Sacred Heart will battle for supremacy.

The Rebels boys’ team took third in last year’s divisional team competition and are eyeing the bronze once again.

“I think first or second place might be a little out there only because we’re not bringing the numbers like other teams in our division,” Flintridge Prep Coach Nick Ponticello said. “But we certainly have a chance to take third again because of the group we’re bringing.”

By night’s end, the Rebels may boast as many champions as the rest of the area combined with strong entrants on the boys’ side in Alan Yoho in the 1,600 (2 p.m.) and 800 (4 p.m.), Jack Van Scoter in the 1,600 and 3,200 (5:50 p.m.) and the brother duo of Barrett and Gareth Weiss in the pole vault at 11:30 a.m.

Yoho is coming off setting a new school record in the 800 at the Division IV prelims in Carpinteria of 1:56.86, while Van Scoter also set a new school record of 9:31.57 in the 3,200.

As for the Weiss brothers, both have reached 14 feet this season and stand a solid chance of winning a title and advancing.

On the girls’ side, senior Sarah Yoho is the Rebels’ lone female qualifier and enters after having also set a school record in Carpinteria in the 1,600 with a mark of 5:05.67. She competes at 1:35 p.m.

Perhaps Flintridge Sacred Heart will prove a dark horse in the girls’ competition.

The Tologs have five participants and start off the track competition at 1 p.m. with the 400-meter relay. The squad is coming off an eighth-place effort of 50.02 last weekend.

Two members of that team, Kayla Montgomery and Nia Harris, will individually compete in the 400-meter race at 2:55 p.m., while middle-distance runner Sophia Saldivar is also entered into the 800 at 3:50 p.m.

Flintridge Sacred Heart will also help close out track competition at 6:05 p.m. in the 1,600-meter relay.


Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.

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